These are some things: forcing this on that, ear potatoes, PJs/weeJs.

Here is a thing that I am really sick of: companies or things or industries or whatever, I don’t know, figure out what I mean here, trying to take their in store or physical or otherwise offline methods and adapt or force them into or onto the online or non-physical or otherwise e or i experience.

I don’t want that. I don’t want that at all. And you don’t want that. I assume you don’t want that. You must not want that. Because there’s a choice. There’s online and there’s offline. There’s in store and… on… store. And books and ebooks, and, you know, the like. And one existed first and the other came along, and since I was having Amazon deliver things to my college dorm room and now I’m a thousand, I assume we’re all relatively comfortable with our choice between the two, taking shopping for example, and we all have our preferences for when we choose one over the other, setting aside the times we’re forced to choose one over another.

There are REASONS a person chooses one over another, right? Sometimes I want to go to a store because I want to SEE something. I want to touch it or see how big it is or see what color it is, or, you know what? Sometimes I like to go to Target and I like to carry things around the store for a while and then put them back because it turns out all I really needed to do was carry them around, not actually own them. Carrying them around was enough of an experience, don’t need to actually buy. It’s a great savings, really. If I picked things up and went straight to the counter with them, we would be very broke.

Other times, I want to sit at home and add 85 items to my online cart. I want $55,000 worth of merchandise in my cart. I want to read reviews. I want to compare minute details. I want to zoom in VERY, VERY CLOSELY. And then I want to come back to the site and do it again tomorrow. And I want to do it all in my underpants and a Cookie Monster t-shirt.

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING LATELY? So, I’m doing one of my favorite things, reading reviews of something I already bought while eating a giant bowl of rice – actually, that’s two of my favorite things – when up pops this little box with a FACE IN IT, with text asking, “HEY CAN I HELP YOU JUST LET ME KNOW OK I’M RIGHT HERE IF I CAN HELP YOU JUST TEXT SOME WORDS I’M RIGHT HERE WITH MY FACE LOOKING AT YOU AND WHAT YOU’RE DOING HOVERING AROUND AND WAITING FOR YOU TO NEED ME TO ASSIST YOU WITH THE VERY BASIC TASK OF LOOKING AT ITEMS AND CHOOSING ONE YOU MIGHT LIKE!”

In the words of that little cleaning robot guy in Wall-E, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, WHOA.”

Look, I’m not even going to finish making my point because you can make my point, right? Why is the hovering sales associate of the IN store shopping experience hovering all over my rice-and-underpants shopping experience? Just because it works IN store doesn’t mean – wait, DOES it work in store? Are there people who like that? Anyway, just because it MAY work in store doesn’t mean it needs to be applied online, where you in THEORY have a contact link or a help link somewhere on every page. I don’t need some dude’s FACE popping up hovery sales girl style. It puts me off my rice.

And what’s weird is that now that we’re all – I assume everyone is basically me – of an age of some sort where we have jobs and we are the people at companies, making choices – you, not me, I’m at home in underpants with rice – it’s hard to imagine that these calls are being made by old men in rooms order things by catalog or have personal shoppers or I don’t know, have never seen an Internet. I assume the people who make these choices are the same people who are either annoyed by hovery sales people when they shop in store, or who choose to UNDERPANTS-RICE at home to avoid such a thing. Yet the in store experience is being all crammed into my underpants and rice moments. Why? WHY?

Or, or WORSE, when an old model is trying to be crammed on to new technology, and it’s somehow my problem to either deal, or come up with something new. Like the whole ebook thing, that’s been hard to figure out. I’m not going to look up research or links or whatever, because I’m lazy and I’m not a responsible blogger and this isn’t news media and I don’t in any way feel obligated to do so, but I read this stuff at one point, so the information is out there. So libraries start lending ebooks, right, and there was this one publisher – and may be still, I’m not fact checking because I can only use the text editor in WordPress right now and it’s really giving me the red ass – who wanted the ebook licenses to expire after a certain number of lendings, because that’s when a regular book would “wear out,” requiring the library to buy a new copy, so it was only fair that they should have to buy a new ebook after the same amount of uses. Which is just… it’s mindblowing, really.

Because a digital book is not a paper book. It’s not. It’s not the same thing. It doesn’t work the same way. You need to work with it in a new way because it’s a new thing. It’s not okay to just apply the old process onto the new thing, because it’s a new thing. New. You come up with a new way, even if the new way means less money. Unless you come up with a new way that means the same amount of money in a sensical way. Or something.

Anyway, I was discussing this with someone, and they said to me, “Well, then, what do you suggest?,” kind of confrontationally, a little, but still conversationally, but who cares how, because I don’t fucking KNOW. It’s not my JOB to know. And I don’t have to just quietly not mention that your “expiring ebook” method is shitty and nonsensical because I don’t have a better idea. I am not a Professional Ebookist. It is not in any way my responsibility to come up with a solution for the whole ebook/paper book shenaniganfoolery. Not liking something or the way something is done doesn’t make coming up with a better way MY burden.


So a couple of years ago, some website I’ve never read before published this big long super heartfelt post about how they had to have ads in order to pay the writers, but they especially had to have really annoying ads. See, don’t you understand – video ads and popups actually pay the most money. The more annoying the ad, the more money the site publisher makes. So when you complain about ads, or when you view through a feed reader, or when you stop visiting the site because of annoying ads, what you don’t understand is that THOSE VERY ADS!!! are the ones making the site owner the most money to pay the writers. And —

And nothing. That was the whole thing. Just this long, supposedly meant to be super revealing “behind the ads” piece on why you kind of actually owe it to the site owner to keep visiting despite these fucking annoying as hell ads, because that’s how they make MONEY.

Uh, no shit? Really? Ads on your site are how you make money?

Anyway, I came across this post because someone, I don’t remember who (I’m lying, I remember exactly who), linked on Twitter with some kind of (and I need Lara’s handjob gif here) bullshit like “slow clap” or something like that, how everyone needed to read it to UNDERSTAND or something. The whole point of the post – and I actually would find this one for you if I even could begin to remember how to, it was such a joke – was to make people UNDERSTAND. To understand that big, annoying, flashy ads are where the most money comes from for site owners, and complaining about it is kind of a douchey thing to do, and you really should visit the site and not use ad block and not read through a feed reader and not stop coming to the site just because you don’t like BIG FLASHY VIDEO ADS and POP UPS. Because site owners NEED TO DO THAT to MAKE MONEY.

And just… no. No. I get that a lot of people make their money online. A LOT of people do. But once your living in ANY WAY becomes MY obligation, you’ve absolutely crossed the line into insanity and entitlement. If you don’t like the ads on a site, you really, really don’t need to go there. Really. If that’s how the site owner makes money, and it stops working because the readers aren’t having it, that site owner needs to find a new way to make some money, not start bitching about how the READERS just DON’T UNDERSTAND how MAKING MONEY WORKS and how they just aren’t keeping up THEIR END OF THE DEAL.

That was years ago, and I’m still mad.

You can’t just… FORCE THINGS onto OTHER THINGS because you think the thing you have on one thing should just go onto the other thing.

Things I applied that to above: in store shopping and online shopping, ebook and paper books, site owners’ responsibility for their own income and readers. IT ALL CAME TOGETHER IN THE END.


A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to get Penelope to let me look at her ears, because she never lets me get close to them in the tub, and they looked grungy. I finally got a hold of her, and I said, “Penelope, your ears are so dirty, you could grow potatoes in here.” I thought something caught her attention on television, she stood still, and she let me clean her ears.

The next day, she was taking a nap, and about halfway through her normal nap length, she stood up in the middle of her bed and started yelling for Phil.


So he had to go in there and check and reassure her that there were no potatoes growing in her ears. So… that was a slight miscalculation on my part.

On the upside, her ears are now pretty consistently clean, though I do have to submit to regular examinations for rogue potatoes myself.


If you look into the sidebar, you can see that the date for next year’s PJs at TJ’s has been set! That’s all the planning that has been done/information that has been released so far, but it’s something!

Here’s what I can tell you!

– Still in Phoenix.
– Ish.
– Still in February.
– Despite what appears to be increased interest, the attendee cap will not be raised. (See this post for info!)
– Registration will be opened probably around the same time as last year, late September/early October, if that changes I will let you know.
– There is a Facebook group that you can join for information as it’s available, by searching PJs at TJ’s 2014.

I said this in a comment last year, re: throwing a small event that is both very small but also open.

It is tough. But I have decided, I will just not go about anything sneakily, and it will be clear and obvious that there is nothing to gain in the sense that maybe some other types of Internet gatherings may have something to offer in the way of… gains. And that I will be very clear that I plan to turn THE VERY INCREDIBLY HUGELY VAST MAJORITY OF THE WORLD away, but I have no plans to turn anyone specific at all away.

And that in the end, I am not owing anything to anyone, and I am not turning myself inside out with the kind of generosity people will talk about for years, about how selfless I was, year after year, becoming ever more gracious and giving to the thankless and faceless crowds that grow greater and greater each year – no, that’s not it at all. In the end, it can only be what it is, what I will allow it to be, and that is my party, and every year for as long as I want to, I will hold my party, and when it becomes unfair, or when it fails to meet someone’s expectations, or when it becomes a subject of some kind of scrutiny, I will just have to shrug my shoulders and say, well, it’s just my party.

And that’s how I look at it, and that’s how I hope people will look at it, with that kind of understanding, both in terms of what I can accommodate and what they can expect from this kind of gathering. Because the answer to both is the same – not much.

And eventually I will probably just take my ball and go home, and that will be okay, because everyone is going to clue in eventually that just like I am struggling to figure out the rules in a landscape where there aren’t rules, this is a whole wide open THING and it’s not just for SPECIAL PEOPLE, because I am the most average of the average, and last year we had the most average of the average times, and it was SO GREAT, and all I did was decide to do it.

This really should have been a whole other thing because I don’t think I’m even remotely related to your comment.

BUT ISN’T IT INTERESTING? How it seems like there are things like… BlogHer and EVO and Bloggy Boot Camp and all kinds of things, and it’s like you have to wait for them to come along at a time that you have A) the time and B) the money and C) the nerve and D) the desire to go to one of them that even remotely begins to match up with something you even WANT to attend, and then suddenly it hits you that these are not MAGIC PEOPLE that came up with these gatherings, they are just PEOPLE.

And you (or me) are ALSO PEOPLE. And so you can pick a time and a place that is affordable and convenient and talk to the people that bolster your nerve and say, HEY, come over, let’s do this specific thing or things or NO THINGS that line up with our specific interests or NON-INTERESTS, in my particular case, and everyone jumps on it, because everyone kind of WANTS to go, but A, B, C, D, never quite line up and it never occurs to us that we just don’t have to WAIT for a magic person to set it up and for ABCD to land on us, we can BE the magic person and we can jigger things around so that ABCD are WORKABLE AND REASONABLE for everyone.



Oh, yeah, we also had to go to the emergency room because I pulled a thumbtack out of Penelope’s mouth and she told me she ate one (liar) and then she did eat some Icy Hot, but we only had to call Poison Control for that, and you’d think I’d dedicate a lot more words to those incidents, but, alas.

19 thoughts on “These are some things: forcing this on that, ear potatoes, PJs/weeJs.

  1. Lawyerish

    I have actually used those online sales-helper chat things, but I agree with you in that I want to be able to CHOOSE to use them by clicking something on my own; I do not wish to have a pop-up APPEAR and HOVER just in case I MIGHT want to use them. That is one thing I hate about in-person shopping and to have it bleed over into online is most upsetting indeed.

    Also, vis-a-vis the blog ads and the “slow clap,” you’re exactly right — I am not OBLIGATED to go to a site with irritating ads in order to generate that site’s income, any more than I am obligated to shop at stores that blast music and waft cologne out the door that you can smell five blocks away. If a business, online or not, creates an unpleasant experience for me, it doesn’t get my patronage or any income out of my wallet! (I feel like storming off in a huff, not away from you but away from the concept itself, which makes my head feel fiery hot.)

    TJ Reply:

    I’ve totally used the helpers, too! And I’ve approached sales people in stores, too, of course.

    But the online helper, I’m just… I’m IN my HOUSE! I’M IN MY HOUSE! You’re popping up! In my space! IN MY HOUSE! It’s inappropriate! No! No!

  2. Jesabes

    OK, when you put weeJs in the title, I thought it meant there would be some accompanying (cutely named) toddler version of PJ’s this year. I’m oddly disappointed, even though I had no idea how that would work. I wanted to READ about it, to SEE if it would work.

    TJ Reply:

    If you want to take on such a project, BE MY SAINTED GUEST.

    Please don’t invite me.

  3. Ginger

    Ah, shit, I think the ebook comment was me. And yes, it was assy of me. (In my defense, I really didn’t mean it to be like “hey you, random reader person, figure out this nonsense that the publishing industry can’t get right.” I am ACTIVELY doing research (and not just on Twitter) on how to make ebooks more user-friendly and less full of bullshit for the reader. I was probably data collecting, although well, yeah, I was still assy though. Sorry about that.)
    But to your point (and with my ass-y ness right there on view, man that’s embarrassing), it sucks to have to be the person who is annoyed as SHIT at the instore sales person bullshit, and yet is forced by the people she works for to replicate said bullshit online. Because no. No. NONONO, I never ever ever want you to pop up and follow me around a website while I shop. I like to know you’re there if *I* want to come find you, but don’t, like, follow me around and crap.

    TJ Reply:

    I totally feel awkward because I genuinely don’t remember the specific conversation – if I remembered who it was with, I wouldn’t have put it up and I’m only taking your word for it that it was you, because I certainly don’t remember it being you or I wouldn’t have PUT it here because I wouldn’t call out someone like that EXCEPT FOR THE PERSON I AM ALSO CALLING OUT, the “slow clap” person? Because that person is legitimately a total knob. But seriously, I didn’t write this like “and here I will say, ‘so this PERSON’ instead of ‘GINGER,'” because I seriously don’t recall the surrounding conversation, though I do recall a conversation with you about ebook PRICING which is a whole different thing I decided not to get into in this post because WHOLE DIFFERENT THING than a license expiring, right?

    But anyway, I, uh, remain stubbornly solutionless, but I have twenty pounds of rice.

    Ginger Reply:

    Maybe it wasn’t me, let’s blame someone else. Or better, ebook biz can be some bullshit, let’s blame it on them. (And oh yes, pricing is a whole other obnoxious thing than licenses.)

    If anything, this can be a perfect example of anyone being allowed to come to PJ’s. *I* came, and that was after being assy about ebooks, so clearly anyone is welcome. :-)

  4. Kara

    Oh Amazon, so easy to spend so much money without thinking about it. I’ve purchased 50+ ebooks in 2013, and not a single paper book. None. Because ebooks are instant gratification. I don’t even have to drag my sweaty butt to the store or library to get my fix. I don’t know how to fix the author royalties issue either. But, I think that self-publishing is probably going to be the next big thing. So authors can retain their rights and make a bigger piece on the first sale to the consumer.

  5. Diane

    I leave websites SO FAST when they start acting like they’re all onto me browsing there. You don’t know me, website! And don’t email me passive aggressively that you know I have things in my cart and AM I AWARE there are things in my cart and just in case I was wondering no they aren’t reserved for me or anything so if I really want them I should pop on over ASAP to purchase them for myself. At least in person I can put on that FACE, you know? The face? That lets the salesperson know I am not to be spoken to because I am staring at the floor. You know what? Okay, they can have their little floating salespeople on the site who want to help, but as soon as I get on the site I want an option where I can click I AM STARING AT THE FLOOR and thus all their great big helpful pleading eyes will not be seen by cranky ancient me.

  6. Christine

    I haaaaate the pop up helper. I also hate the email the next day after I did not buy my 30000.00 worth of merchandise reminding my I “forgot something” in my cart. I did not forget, I like to place things in the cart just in case!

  7. Peregwyn

    TATO EAR! So when I was a wee tyke, my mother sent me to bed with “Night night, don’t let the bed bugs bite!”. I promptly kicked the bed leg, which I thought was bed bugs biting me.

  8. Lara

    It’s funny you mention the hand job gif in a post (partially) about PJs because I think I promised AT PJs to make that. Five months ago. I’ll get on that soon. No, really.

    I remember that article/post whatever about the ads too (not enough to search it out either) and I think I remember who tweeted it out and yes . I wanted to say (and didn’t because that person is an asshole) that if you make money by doing something that ANNOYS your customers, you are going to have to face the fact that you will LOSE some customers. I mean, yes. You may be providing free-to-me content. If it’s good, I’ll put up with some ads and stuff, but if the ads are terrible and the content is so-so? Or spread out over a fracking slideshow? I will no longer visit. Just like I would no longer visit a business who made money by having a scary clown stand out front and punch me in the neck when I tried to go into one of their stores.

    Anyway. I am ready and waiting to send you cold hard … PayPal transactions … whenever the PJs registration or lottery or Hunger Games or whatever is ready. I had to cancel out on the Blathering today (boooooo) and I’m UNHAPPY about it and hope to see you all in February.

  9. Swistle

    I am so in agreement on so many levels, I almost feel QUEASY with it.

    I am still angry, and it’s been MANY YEARS (it was before Rob was born), about the time a travel agency sent me a really friendly survey/letter asking for feedback about why I hadn’t used them in a long time, so I filled out the form and said that it was because I could get my own tickets online now without having to pay the travel agency fee. (I wanted them to know it wasn’t anything they’d done wrong or anything.) And the guy CALLED ME and left a message justifying it exactly like the annoying ads (“But that’s how we MAKE MONEY!!!”)—as if it were my HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY to pay more for the same item so that he could stay in business. He ended the call by saying I should call him back if I “had more questions.” !!! And I DID NOT call him back, of course (I had NO questions, let alone MORE questions), and HE CALLED ME AGAIN, and this time unfortunately I answered the phone, and he tried to argue with me for HALF AN HOUR about it, with me saying, “No, I understand that’s how you make money, but I don’t want to make that kind of donation,” and him CONTINUING TO EXPLAIN, and I was too young/inexperienced to realize that the correct response was “OMFG ARE YOU KIDDING ME??” and hanging up, so I STAYED ON THE PHONE WITH HIM, and anyway, kind of queasy with agreement.

  10. K

    Shopping in my unders while in bed and having parcels arrive on my front stoop in two days make me a happy woman on the regular.

    Everything else is b.s.

  11. Victoria

    “Sometimes I like to go to Target and I like to carry things around the store for a while and then put them back because it turns out all I really needed to do was carry them around, not actually own them.” OH MY GOD. Me too. I thought I was the only one. I have an online version of that too where I add a bunch of stuff to my shopping cart and then never check out. I find it very satisfying, sometimes more so than actual shopping and buying stuff because I don’t have to feel any buyer’s remorse.

  12. Christy M

    OK, so our son just went to the ENT last week for tonsil/adenoid/ear tube issues and when the doctor told him he needed to look in his ear, Scott totally went, “For POTATOES?” disbelievingly. Like, “I thought Mom and Dad were just shitting me with the ear potatoes thing, but now the doctor needs to look for them too!”

  13. Jonathan

    I would love a Phil version of PJs for guys. I imagine that we would all come over and we’d roll our eyes slightly at the stories you would tell us about what Pen did while we were at work. Then we would wander off to play video games for a while. I imagine bacon would also be involved.

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