Elliot Swan is a freelance web and graphic designer as well as a self-proclaimed photographer who loves ranting about design, standards, and the web in general. But that's not what this site is for. No, he's got another site for that. What's this then? Why, let me introduce you to...

Accidental Procrastination | Things I didn't mean to think about when I should've been working.

I was:

My Personal Linear Hell

July 13, 2007

I personally believe that hell has a very long line leading to it. You wait. And wait, and wait some more until you wish you could just get there already. Eventually, you realize that you’ve been there the whole time.

Standing in line is like being in bad traffic while chairless and the radio is forever stuck on some reject pop station where the DJ feels the need to interrupt every song with wannabe raps consisting of “Matt, we need a cleanup on isle five. Matt, cleanup on isle five please.”

After about six of these reminders, you’re tempted to go check out isle five. You’re tempted to go check out the mess, to evaluate it, to see exactly what needs to be done. Then when you see an employee approach you greet this poor soul with a knowledgeable, “Hi Matt, I’d recommend immediate mopping followed by extensive bleach. Don’t forget the wet floor sign. Have a nice day.”

But alas, that would require losing one’s spot in line. Everybody’s worried about getting a “good spot.” You take your rounds across the stretching expansion of checkouts, gauging the estimated length of line, speed of cashier, and magazine selection. When one is about to stand in line for a long length of time, these things are important to know ahead of time.

Now once you have that good spot, the trouble is then keeping it. Eventually you run out of magazines, so you start assessing your surroundings. You first take a look at your fellow prisoners, making some vague assumptions as to their character. Next you take a look at their future purchases, weighing these results against your previous assumptions. The skinny kid with all the dairy products is obviously re-stocking after his king-sized roommate, and the body-builder reading People‘s coverage of Paris Hilton’s jail time is no doubt getting snacks for his late night security gig. The lady reading The Enquirer is simply an idiot.

Once you are through with this, boredom hits. As you look into the neighboring lines, you realize that you picked the wrong good spot–if you had been in the other line you would’ve been long gone by now. You consider switching lines, but you’re worried that you might make the wrong choice again. Besides, you’d have to start this whole process all over again, and you’d lose your current not-quite-as-good spot.

After several hours (while your watch may not backup this fact, it is my personal belief that time stops while you are in line), you arrive at the front. With much glee, you turn a full 180 and look into the eyes of each helpless human being still waiting behind you. An innocent smile appears across your lips as you take a look at your cashier’s computer to see what operating system they are using. It appears to still be running DOS.

“Sorry for the delay, thanks for waiting. Paper or plastic?”

Boy, am I glad you asked.

A Portrait of God

June 14, 2007

God seems to be a big subject for famous works of art, and I can’t help but wonder what He must think of all these.

I imagine there must be an art gallery somewhere in heaven with a special wall reserved for the best ones, and another somewhere in hell for the rest of them. But how is it decided which go where?

There are probably a few main criteria for how these are all evaluated, and the most important is obviously accuracy. For example, did Jesus have a pony tail, or was He more into the curly surfer-hair complete with emo poses?

Other important details would include those such as the color and style of clothes He’s depicted wearing, whether the lighting hits Him right, and whether the artist correctly guessed His body type.

I think these are the kinds of things that have the greatest effect on an artist’s total score.

Hot Dog Confessions

May 10, 2007

For some unbeknownst reason, I eat a lot of hot dogs and polish sausages. When I tell people this, I always get the same predicable response of, “Do you know what’s in those??! If you knew, you’d never eat one again.”

I’m thinking the answer is ground up bits of animals that nobody would buy, correct? With some spices thrown in?

But let’s get serious, because it’s really not like you vegetarians have it any better…You know where those carrots come from, right? Heavily fertilized and most likely bug-repellent sprayed dirt. First of all, you do know what most fertilizer is, no? To put it lightly, it’s the stuff that our bodies were trying to flush down the toilet. So what do you vegetarians do? Why eat it, of course.

You’re right, that does sound extremely healthy and appetizing.

And now let’s think of what else is done with dirt. People walk on it, die on it, are buried and decompose in it. Pollution, of which the air is full of, is constantly in contact with this dirt. Nor is this dirt being watered with bottled Fuji water.

When we wash our clothes, what are we washing from them? Dirt. You know, the stuff we grow our food in.

In fact, I’d venture to say that there is nothing on this earth more dirty than that which is dirt.

So, to all you veggie lovers out there: You know what that’s grown in, right? I’ll bet if you knew, you’d never eat another one again.

The Minute of Yesterday

April 25, 2007

In one minute it will be tomorrow; in one minute it will be the future. In one minute, everything–everything–could quite possibly be very different than that which is the minute I am living now. Or, it could just as possibly–perhaps more so–slip right by, unnoticed like those that proceeded it: Quiet, indifferent, and more than likely wasted.

Four minutes have gone by since I wrote my first sentence. It’s tomorrow now, or rather the tomorrow of four minutes ago and today’s today. Nothing has happened, nothing has changed, and iTunes is still on repeat.

But it’s low-fat!

April 7, 2007

A phenomenon I’ve been noticing lately is the abundance of reduced fat snacks and deserts. Did you know that you can actually buy low-fat ice cream now? And what’s with the Reduced Fat Oreos?

I’ve been trying to figure out what new audience they’re trying to reach. I know it can’t be me, because I only eat Double Stuffed. It also can’t be the hard-core dieters, because they wouldn’t be stupid enough to fall for something like that.

The only explanation I can think of is that they’re hoping to open up a new market filled with spontaneous dieters:

Guy 1: “Man, I’m freaking starved, I haven’t eaten anything today!”
Guy 2: “There’s McDonald’s…Go buy a hamburger.”
Guy 1: “Haven’t you seen the movie? Besides, I’m doing the whole ‘diet’ thing. Hey, wait a second…look at this! Reduced Fat Oreos! I’ll get two.”

I suppose it also works for the quantity-over-quality folks. You know, the people who don’t want to feel guilty after taking seconds so they get the 50% reduced fat stuff, thus allowing them to eat twice as much.

You think?

Simple Facts of Life

March 5, 2007

The American Dream

February 14, 2007

It’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.

– George Carlin, Owners of This Country

The American Dream is a bizarre paradox that holds the weight of American success. It works, sometimes. It allows the forlorn to hope, the dejected to dream, the downhearted to act, and the achievers to stress. The American Dream insists that the status quo is indeed not enough, that there is more, and that if you don’t get that more you’ve failed yourself and your society.

But what is that more? When have you attained it?

The answer to the second question is simple: You can’t. You can’t attain it, because you can’t define it. And you can’t define it, because as soon as you’ve defined the American Dream you’ve lost it.

So we fight a blind battle, searching and lusting for something more, something else, something better… We obtain the better, we get the more, but only to find another better and another more lies just down the road.

We try to make something of ourselves, something great, something big. A name, or recognition. Something, anything. Anything that will leave our own unique mark on the planet; anything that will allow us to feel like we haven’t wasted our life. We don’t know who we are, so we attempt to follow those who, in our minds, have achieved the American Dream. Perhaps becoming the next American Idol? Thousands upon thousands of people were shown last week on national TV attempting to be just that. The catch? Most of them can’t sing. Have they failed in the American Dream? Or a better question…Can you win the American Dream? No. No, you can’t.

I imagine if you walked up to previous American Idols and asked them if they’ve succeeded in life, completed all their goals, and feel completely content with where their life is at they’ll answer “no.” There’s always something on the horizon, something new and better. A carrot dangling on a stick just inches out of reach, and no matter how far you go it’s never far enough, the carrot’s still there, still just out of reach.

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Success has become the postmodern Law. Much like what the Biblical Old Testament Law gave many of the Israelites, success gives us purpose and motivation. Most of us, like the Old Testament spiritual leaders with the Law, define ourselves by our success compared to that of others.

But just like Israel did with the Law, we again miss the point. In a society where self-help books have their own section in Borders and Joel Osteen can get millions to watch him speak, where supermodels starve themselves and still need to be photoshopped, and where our millionaire stars check themselves into rehabs; we’ve obviously never been able to beat the American Dream.

But maybe, just maybe, we’re not supposed to.

Easy, High-Pay Jobs

January 23, 2007

Anybody can be a stunt man…but it takes a special person to be a stunt man more than once.

“What do you do?”
“I’m a stunt man.”
“Oh really, you can do stunts?”
“…One.”

The Global Warming Solution

January 3, 2007

TIME says global warming is destroying us, and Al Gore wants you to believe it. Your icecaps are melting, your ozone’s vaporising, and your winter wonderland’s retiring. I didn’t read the TIME article and I didn’t watch Gore’s movie–but they’ve got the snappy titles, and that’s all anybody reads anyway.

None of that matters though, because I have the solution.

That’s right, I can solve your global warming disputes, your hot-button issues, your sizzling problems. I can cool down your planet, keep your atmosphere free, and save your icecaps. I can restrain your greenhouse gases, halt your CO2, and hold back the rising waters.

All I had to do is think for a second. What is supposed to cause global warming? CO2, carbon dioxide. What’s the biggest apparent supplier of carbon dioxide? Breathing.

After I had that figured out, the solution came as naturally as Al Gore and acting. We take all the stupid people, put ’em in a room, and tell them not to breathe.

Problem solved.

Now, some of you are going to be sending me hate mail because you don’t believe in global warming or perhaps you think Earth could use a little warming up. But that’s cool, because this will solve all your other problems, too.

The only thing left is deciding who gets cast into the room. I say we make it a reality show, and I vote for Al Gore.

Are We Done Yet?

December 9, 2006

Clerks are jerks.

I mean honestly. You take normal, average people, stick ’em behind a counter, and suddenly they’re complete jackasses.

You know what I’m talking about.

You’re trying to buy a cage for your demented hamster, submit a medical/death release form so you can learn to jump out of a plane, or check your cat into Addicted To Catnip Anonymous and you have absolutely no clue what the procedure is in this situation. After approximately 73 minutes and 24 seconds of dealing with this person, it becomes unmistakably clear that the person-behind-the-counter-who-does-this-all-the-time has no absolutely no intention of telling you what it is.

The DMV loves this.

The guy’s standing behind his all-mighty shelf of fabricated jargon (counter) as though it’s some sort of industrial throne. He seems somewhat surprised when you don’t bow down and kiss his feet, but you’re not quite sure how to do that since there’s a freaking counter in between you. He’s got a fancy job title like “Official Crowd Response-iologist” in order to make him feel good about his crappy job. Incase you haven’t realized this yet, anytime somebody introces themselves along with a title ending in “-iologist,” that means that their job is bad enough where they had to be given a special title to make them stay.

But back to the issue at hand. You just want to get outta there ASAP, but they’re not going to let you do that. See, the longer they can keep you there, the more it looks like they’re actually doing something.

They’ve got this whole procedure down in order to get everything to take as long as possible, too. After he finally “understands” your question, he then needs to confirm the answer with somebody in the very back of the building, which will take roughly another 12 minutes and 14.7 seconds.

And they will never, and I mean never, tell you when the procedure is complete. No, that would be far too easy. Instead they just give you “that smile” as if to say, “Why the hell are you still standing here?”

When a clerk smilies at you…get outta there ASAP. There’s really only two things that it can mean: One, this conversation is over and the person behind you is getting impatient, or two, “Would you like to sign up for a ____ Card and waste another 20 minutes at our store save 15%?

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