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:

Forgotten Instincts

August 19, 2008

He had no idea where he was or where he was going, but he kept that information to himself. He parted the neck-high grasses before him and blazed onward. Leading was his job, and he wasn’t about to let some new guy disrupt that.

It had always been his job to lead, and he knew no other role to play. It had always been that way–either he was followed or he went it alone; he would not follow.

“Shouldn’t we go back? I’m sure there should’ve been a trail back there.” The voice came from behind.

Why, oh why, was he stuck with that voice? He had only known it for a few short hours, and he was glad of that. At least this voice, the owner of which was apparently named Tom, didn’t seem to know much. He hated when people knew things, especially when they knew that they knew things. Jack’s reply was short and to the point. “Let me handle it.”

“I thought you said that you’d been here before.”

“I have.”

“When?”

“It’s been a while.”

“You don’t seem to know where you’re going…”

“I said let me handle it.” He struck the foliage before him with more ferocity than necessary and hoped that Tom noticed.

“But Jack–”

“I said let me handle it. I know what I’m doing.” He didn’t, of course, but that was none of Tom’s business. This was his business, and Tom was lucky he was being allowed to follow. It wasn’t that Jack didn’t want him following, in fact the company itself was appreciated as long as he didn’t ask questions. It was the questioning that he hated, because questions can only lead to information he did not intend to divulge.

Jack pressed forward as he glanced toward the sky. The sun was high, and the thickness of the air supplied no relief to his drenched body. He thought back to a few hours before, back to when it was still cool and they were about to shake hands before climbing in that little canoe with a couple others, some hot dogs, and about 10 pounds of instant coffee.

Jack had arrived at the river before dawn and didn’t bother stopping in the parking lot but drove right out to the aging dock. As he stepped out of his battered, once-blue pickup he took a breath of the crisp early-morning air. It smelled slightly of yesterday’s catch, or rather its rejects, but he didn’t care. The air was fresh, and it was invigorating. As he walked out to the edge of the dock, he looked around and saw that he was the first to arrive–of course he was, he always was. The whole thing had been Jack’s idea, and the rest of them were to meet there at sunrise. He had wanted it that way; that was how he had planned it. Jack looked out toward the smooth, cool expanse of water as the sun peaked its crown into the sky and flashed its light through the glistening river. Farther out he could just see a small island emerging from the morning fog, and his heart skipped a beat. It was to be their destination, and he was determined this time. With a deep breath he felt his mind clear, and for a moment, however brief, he knew he was meant to be there.

The moment had passed as had he heard a vehicle approaching from behind him. They had arrived. He turned around and tread back to the dusty parking lot to see his two long-time friends emerge from the car with the new guy, Tom. Tom was the last to step out of the car, and as he did so Jack observed him carefully. He bore tattered jeans and a coal-black windbreaker, but his manner remained consciously reserved. Was it fear? Contempt? Jack wondered exactly what untold secrets were hidden under his stoic expression.

Jack was greeted by his friends enthusiastically, but his thoughts were still with the dock and the island. The last time they had been there was long ago, and he did not desire a repeat.

“Jack!”

The shout brought Jack back to the present, and for the first time in a long while he came to a halt in the surrounding wilderness. He removed his hat and slowly ran his fingers through the sweaty black hair he was once so proud of, breathing deep the aroma of wild blackberries. He responded without turning around. “What.”

“We really should turn around.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I already told you.” Why couldn’t he just stop with the whining?

“Well why don’t we yell to see if the others hear us?”

“No. I’m going this way.” The others didn’t need to know anything.

“But there has to be a path back there somewhere!”

“Then go find it by yourself, dammit!” Jack pushed forward through the grasses with even greater ferocity but then came to a sudden halt. A distorted tree rose before him, twisted and mangled like a piece of modern art just waiting to be interpreted. It was an unforgettable sight, and had Jack been somewhere else he probably would have taken a picture of it. He’d seen it before, however. Gazing at it, images and feelings he hadn’t felt in a long time suddenly rushed through him like a frigid gust of wind leaving him gasping for air. His lungs were gripped with panic as the memories once again returned.

It was here they had found him last time.

Jack just stared. He couldn’t believe it. Panic started giving way to anger, and he suddenly noticed Tom’s shadow looming behind him. He was probably still ten feet behind at least, but Jack felt his presence as though Tom was reading over his shoulder. He hated when people read over his shoulder.

Jack turned on him. He didn’t know why, but this had to be Tom’s fault somehow. And even if it wasn’t, he could make it. He yelled. “What do you WANT?”

Tom didn’t respond at first. He still wore his stupid, consciously reserved expression, but Jack could see through it. He was scared, and he would crack soon.

“What do I want? I want to get to where we’re going.”

“Yeah, well, you aren’t helping.”

“I wasn’t aware that my help was wanted.”

Who did this guy think he was? Jack turned back toward the tree; he had nothing to else to say. He wasn’t completely sure what he had wanted Tom to respond with. He wasn’t sure why he had chosen “what do you want” as his question of choice, either, because it didn’t really mean anything. He just needed to say something. He just needed Tom to say something, to show that he felt some sort of human emotion. Certainly that wasn’t too much to ask for?

He heard noise from behind and saw before him Tom’s shadow shrink as he sat down. Jack was feeling the effects of their trek as well, but he couldn’t sit down now, not after Tom had.

So he stood there, his hands clenched as he absorbed the surroundings once again. The sun was even higher now, and Jack didn’t think it could get any higher. He presumed it must be about midday. His clothing was beyond drenched now, and as he grabbed a section of his torn t-shirt and twisted it sweat dripped to the ground. It provided little relief to his overheated physique and no relief to his aching legs. He lifted his legs and attempted to stretch in hope of soothing some of the pain, but he did it subtly. As far as Tom knew, Jack was still at his peak, and Jack wanted to keep it that way.

He looked back at the tree not sure what to even think. It’d been so long, but he hadn’t forgotten it. He hadn’t forgotten what it represented. It was here he had failed.

Jack glanced back at Tom. He was still sitting there, still blank. But Jack couldn’t deal with that now; he had to press on. His body wanted to stop, to sit down, to rest, but he would not allow it. Not now. He had to get away from this place.

Jack started again, heading in a direction that he had yet to attempt. He only continued on for a short distance, just far enough to be out of sight of Tom. He stopped for a moment and listened for any movement. The sound of brush crunching under feet grew louder, and upon hearing it Jack proceeded onward. Where he was proceeding to he still did not know, especially now. He’d never been here before–that tree marked the edge of his past exploration, if you could even call it that.

His anger had started to cool, and he was once again aware of the fear. What was it that he feared? Perhaps it was that he had no idea where he was; perhaps it was that he had no idea where he was going. Perhaps that he might fail once again, or, perhaps, that Tom and the others might realize it.

Tom was catching up, and he called up to Jack. “Weird tree, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“Wish I had brought a camera.”

“You won’t forget it.”

“You never know. We’ll have to tell the others about it.”

Jack felt his stomach turn. “I’m sure there’s lots of weird trees out here; they wouldn’t want to hear about it.” Of course they would, but not because of its artistic value. They remembered it, too; Jack was sure of that.

“Well it’s the first like it that I’ve seen, and you sure seemed interested in it.”

Jack faltered for a second. “What?”

“What’s it mean to you, Jack?”

“What does what mean to me.”


“The tree, Jack, the tree.”

Jack didn’t answer. What did it mean? It meant failure. It meant complete realization that he had no idea where he was. It meant that no matter what he did next or where he went, it was hopeless.

Earlier today, back at the dock, back when he had felt freedom, purpose, and control, he never would have believed that it would come to this. When they had split off from the others and agreed to meet later, Jack was sure this would be it. He was sure this was his chance, his opportunity for redemption. But now he wasn’t so sure. What was wrong with this place? With him? Jack wasn’t sure of anything anymore, and he needed to finally sit down. He needed to rest, to calm the fear in his stomach. He needed to eat.

Jack found a nearby stump to employ as a chair and slowly sat down so as not to aggravate his already aching body. He breathed deep.

Tom stayed standing. Jack watched as he looked around, absorbing it all. He must’ve noticed the change in Jack’s disposition, because he said nothing. Jack was fine with this, and he simply studied Tom as he stood there. Tom was a mystery to Jack, and he was almost envious. Tom seemed to have control over the one thing Jack couldn’t–himself. This whole thing was supposed to be Jack’s plan. It was his chance to finally make it, to conquer this place. Yet there he was, sitting on a stump where the only thing that looked familiar was their footprints.

Jack thought back to where those footprints originated and to when they were still there. Up until that point, they had all been together. The day was still young and cool, but the others had been getting hungry and were considering heading to the campsite. Jack was hungry as well, but only slightly, and this offered him the chance he needed. It was time to overcome. As the others decided to make their way to the campsite, Jack declared that he would continue on for a while and meet them there. He felt confident.

The others looked at each other, and Jack could tell what they were thinking. They remembered the last time, too. Last time, Jack had been certain he had seen another way to get to their campsite, and he had insisted on going after it. He hadn’t been able to remember exactly where it was, but he knew he could find it. He had to. But no matter what he had said, he couldn’t convince them. Neither of them believed him. But he was confident, and he knew he was meant to find it. So he did it alone. How hard could it be? It was getting dark though, and somewhere along the way he must have lost his way. He never made it, and eventually the others found him and had to bring him back.

But that was a one-time mistake. This was a new day, and this was his trip. This was his time. He’d find it. The others still didn’t believe him, but he’d track it down. He knew what he was doing.

Then Tom had spoken up and said he would be going along with Jack. Jack still didn’t trust him, but he knew the others would force him into allowing Tom’s company. Jack pretended to consider it before agreeing.

Then they parted ways. Jack led the way, and Tom followed silently. Jack knew he was in control, and he knew things would be different this time.

But now, hours later, he wasn’t sure how much control he had anymore. And even if he had it all, he wouldn’t know what to do with it.

“Hey, Jack.” Tom was still standing, but he had a reserved tone in his voice.

“Yeah?”

“Where are you going?”

Jack thought about his question. Why did he need to know? Jack was leading, shouldn’t that be enough? Why can’t Tom just trust him? He replied with the obvious, or at least it should have been. “To the campsite.”

“No, Jack, you’re not. What are you doing out here?”

Jack wished he knew, he really did. Earlier today he had thought he did. He used to always know, that’s just how it was. But now, out here, he wasn’t sure. Things were different now. Jack didn’t know what to say, so he said nothing.

“Jack…”

“What?”

“It’s time to go back.” With a look toward the sky, Tom turned around, and without saying anything more he slowly started to walk back.

Jack watched him. He seemed so calm, so under control. So…reserved. He was starting to walk out of sight now, and Jack slowly rose from his stump. He said nothing.

Jack looked at the sky and the now declining sun, thinking once again to earlier that day. He thought of his determination, of his plan. It had been so perfect. Why couldn’t things have followed it? This was supposed to be his chance.

Jack looked toward where Tom had walked. He couldn’t see him, but he could hear the brush quietly murmuring as Tom made his way through. Jack followed.

My last post before this post which doesn’t really count as my last post was posted a really long time ago.

July 9, 2008

^ Imagine that. I don’t really know why I stopped writing here, other than I just did. I guess I ran out of things to say. Nah, that’s not it. And I definitely didn’t stop being funny. In fact I’m probably funnier now than ever. I didn’t really stop procrastinating, either…I just furthered the procrastination one more step by procrastinating the procrastinating that took place here. Most of my past posts were either funny or serious, which I guess sums up basically everything a post could be anyway. I already said I never stopped being funny, so as to why those posts stopped getting posted is still up for debate. Perhaps I found better ways to share my funniness with the world and anybody else who would take it, “better” meaning “less work.” Work always gets in the way of stuff like that. As for the serious ones, who knows? Perhaps I stopped being serious? That could be it, or maybe I just stopped being angry about things. Or perhaps I no longer care enough. Either one of those can also kill the comedy. No pun intended–or is there even a pun in there? Hmm.

>> This is a new paragraph, by the way. The one up there probably has too much stuff in it, but I’m going to keep it that way because to edit it would take work, and I’ve already discussed my attitude towards that kind of thing. Besides. This is my blog, and I shall do whatever I please here. Okay? Okay. Then again, lately I’ve been doing nothing here, and that’s somewhat of a problem. Well, probably not much of a problem since nobody really cares, but I like to think it’s a problem–people with lots of problems are generally more important than the people without any problems, unless the people with problems are just unlucky alien-types who decided to heal somebody when other people were around and screwed up their whole cover, in which case they’re probably just from Roswell and don’t have any real importance.

Anyway. Back to the blog…perhaps I’ll bring it back. Perhaps.

One Year of Accidental Procrastination

May 4, 2007

I’ve been officially procrastinating accidentally for over a year now, as the first post here came out on May 3rd, 2006.

Here’s what are, in my opinion, the highlights of last year’s procrastinations ordered from oldest to newest:

Here’s to another year of amazing time-wasting activities.

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.

5 Things I Wish I Could Do But Probably Never Will

April 13, 2007
  1. Secretly buy CNN.com, replace overnight all news with satire articles, see what networks are reporting them the next morning.
  2. Gain 200 pounds, lose it in a month, get paid to walk on the beach for a “results not typical” commercial.
  3. Make a sequel to a movie that never existed, just to see who would watch it anyway.
  4. Watch M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs” sometime in the middle of the night while outside in a cornfield.
  5. Write a book that ends, “The night stifled all those present, a black velvet cloaking the sky concealing any hint of natural light that might otherwise have shown itself. A single figure stepped out of the darkness and approached the edge, peering over for but a moment. With a flying leap, he cleared the weathered railing and plummeted toward the dark mass that was the Bering Sea below. For a brief, terrifying, ‘Oh shit’ moment the thought passed through his mind that this was probably not the most resourceful approach, but his author saw the amazing trilogy potential and just couldn’t stay away.”

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.

The Insanities of One’s Mind

January 6, 2007

From looking at the stats for this blog, I can tell a lot about the types of people who come across it, mostly shown through the search engine referrals I find. The kinds of insights these can lead to are quite astounding, so what you’ll now be experiencing is a journey into the minds of those who search Google for stupid things, and find what they’re looking for–me.

The Bible Joel Osteen Doesn’t Talk About.

December 30, 2006

American Christianity has become overrun with sissies. The stuff Paul wrote would never make it into a Sunday morning sermon for fear of offending the same people who spend more time boycotting The Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter than they do helping their neighbor. In fact, some of the stuff Paul wrote didn’t even make it into our common English translations…Excuse me?

So, in order to prove that this politically correct, tame, and emotionless sissiness is not where we started, I’d like to show a few examples of honest, point-blank, and truly offensive (and oh-so-awesome) material found from the very book and people this faith came from.

Let’s start with Paul. First we’ve got the censored Philippians 3:8, which you’ve probably seen like one of these:

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ (NKJV)

Not only those things, but I think that all things are worth nothing compared with the greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him, I have lost all those things, and now I know they are worthless trash. This allows me to have Christ (NCV)

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ (NIV)

Bullshit.

Paul said it. He didn’t count them as “rubbish” or “worthless trash,” he counted them as the Greek “skubala,” or correctly translated–“shit.”

Then we’ve got one of my all-time favorite verses, Galations 5:12. To give a little context, I’ll include verse 11 as well (and I’ll be skipping the NKJV as, in my opinion, it’s fairly weak):

My brothers and sisters, I do not teach that a man must be circumcised. If I teach circumcision, why am I still being attacked? If I still taught circumcision, my preaching about the cross would not be a problem. I wish the people who are bothering you would castrate themselves! (NCV)

Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (NIV)

Now as Real Live Preacher points out, this pretty much means, “I wish those who are troubling you would cut their own balls off.” Try saying that in church and see what happens.

Both John the Baptist and Jesus used the common phrase, “brood of vipers” when addressing a group of people. According to a Wikipedia article, “In Matthew and Luke, the word used for brood implies illegitimacy, and so scholars, such as Malina and Rohrbaugh, consider a more literal translation to be snake bastards.”

Now, regardless of whether that’s the most accurate translation or not, take a look at what Jesus said here:

“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation. (Matthew 23:33-36, NIV)

I’m pretty sure that wasn’t taken positively. And of course, we can’t forget the whole flipping tables episode.

So, with that said, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go put on some Tool. Wait…actually, it’s already playing.

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