The 8 lowest forms of human communication (2014 update)

In 2012, I proposed the four lowest forms of human communication.

Today I update that list with four new items. If you’d like to suggest an addition to the list, I’m all ears.

1.  The demanded apology

2.  The absence of a thank you note complaint

3.  The “I’m angry at you and will write an email rather than speaking to you in person or calling you” email

4.  The anonymous critique or attack, in any form

5. The read-aloud PowerPoint slide

6. Any meeting agenda item that could’ve been conveyed via email or memo

7. The disingenuous, disinterested “How are you?”

8. The personal tragedy one-upmanship


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Coincidence? I don’t think so.

The Patriots beat the Lions, 34-9 on Sunday, which marked fourteenth anniversary of quarterback Tom Brady’s debut in the NFL.

On that same day in 2000, the Lions beat Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Final score: 34-9.

Coincidence? No way.

Glitch in the matrix. Bug in the program. Virus in the machine.

A sign that we are all living in one enormous computer simulation.


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Interstellar should be a TV show

For the record, someone should adapt Interstellar for television. There was about 49 hours of content squeezed into a little less than three hours.


It would be an amazing TV show. Perfect for HBO. A&E. Netflix.

Also, I’m more than willing to be the one to adapt it, in the event that you’re a show runner looking for a writer.

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High school students wrote and produced raps based upon one of my books

Students at Gavit High School in Hammond, Indiana read Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend in English class, and a group of them wrote and produced raps about the book.


I’ve never been a huge fan of of rap, but these two songs are definitely an exception:

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Bread bags on your feet was apparently a thing. Not just my family’s desperate attempt to keep our feet dry in the snow.

Staring at the photographs from the enormous snowfall in Buffalo, I was reminded of the Blizzard of ‘78 in Massachusetts. I was only seven years-old at the time, but I remember it well.

image image

My hometown of Blackstone and the surrounding towns of Lincoln, Smithfield, Woonsocket, and North Smithfield were the hardest hit, reporting more than 40 inches of snow.

I spent days outside with my father, shoveling trenches from the front door to the car, and from the car to the street. Truthfully, I was probably more of a nuisance than anything else, but I remember feeling like a man for the first time in my life.

We were ill equipped for the winter, as was the case throughout most of my childhood. We wore old socks on our hands in lieu of mittens. Hand-me-down winter coats.

I didn’t own a pair of snow pants until by friends bought me a pair a few years ago for my birthday so I could stay warm at Patriots games.

I didn’t own a scarf until a girlfriend bought one for me when I was in my twenties.

We didn’t own any winter boots, a fact that my evil stepfather would later use in an attempt to drive a wedge between me and my father. Instead, we wore three or four pairs of socks and then wrapped our feet in bread bags before putting on our sneakers.

I thought this was something that only my family did, but when I mentioned the bread bags in a tweet last week, three people responded, saying they did the same thing as kids.

Bread bags used as waterproofing.

Apparently it was a thing.


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Budo loves Max

Readers are truly the best people on the Earth.


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I went to the movies and met an amazing young woman and a loud-mouthed racist.

I went to a late showing of Interstellar last night. I’m in Indiana and alone, so I figured, “Why not?”

It was a good movie


The cashier who handed me a Diet Coke and a box of Junior Mints was a young, black woman. As she poured the soda, I asked her if she had seen the movie yet, hoping for an informed opinion.

“No, not yet,” she said.

“But you get to see the movies for free,” I said. “Right?”

“Yeah,” she said. “But I have four jobs, and I’m a fulltime student at Purdue. So when I come here, I do my job, and get back to my homework or one of my other jobs. No time for movies. Or anything else other than work and school. At least not yet.”

I told her that if I lived in the area and owned a business, I would hire her on the spot. As someone who worked 50-60 hours a week while double majoring at Trinity College and Saint Joseph’s University, I know the amount of effort, tenacity, and determination required to put yourself through college all too well.

I wished her luck with her studies and headed to my movie with a bounce in my step. I felt like I had spoken to someone special. Someone who would do great things with her life.  

I sat down in front and to the left of two middle aged, white couples. The trailers for upcoming movies came on. We watched the trailer for Selma, a Martin Luther King, Jr. docudrama about the civil right’s marches in Alabama.

One of the men to my left scoffed and said, “Another damn nigger movie.”

“Jim!” the woman (presumably his wife) sitting beside him whisper-yelled.  “Don’t talk like that in public.”

I wanted to tell Jim and his wife that if I owned a business where they worked, I would fire them immediately.

Frankly, I wanted to drag Jim out of the theater by the scruff of his red neck and introduce him to the cashier who was working four jobs and attending school fulltime. Tell him that she was already more than he would ever be.

I didn’t say anything. I wanted to so badly, but the voice of my wife spoke to me, reminding me that my repeated confrontations with strangers will one day land me in a lot of trouble.

If I’m going to end up in trouble, at least let it be in my home state.

But my respect and admiration for the cashier whose name I wish I knew grew tenfold. While she and I both fought our way through college by working like dogs, I didn’t also have to deal with the Jims of the world.

Racism was not an obstacle for me.

The five years that I spent in college, two at Manchester Community College and three at Trinity College and Saint Joseph’s University, were hard enough without racists and bigots blocking my path and clouding my world.

I can’t begin to imagine how hard that must be on someone like that cashier.

I can only hope that when that young woman graduates from college and is ready to shed her four low paying jobs for one good one, there are fewer Jims in the world than there are today.

And for the Jims who are still standing when that day comes, I hope that they at least listen to their racist wives and keep their hateful remarks at home where they belong.


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Farmer Charlie

I grew up on a horse farm until my parents got divorced when I was about seven years-old. I often wonder what might have happened had they stayed together.

Maybe I would’ve grown up looking something like this.

image image image image image image

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One of my fictional characters has found his way into math class

A tweet from a student:

I wrote Budo in my math project. <3

As an author, a teacher, and a lover of the subversive, this made my day. 


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How much would you pay for one more hour in your day. Hint: There is a correct answer, and most Americans got it wrong.

A new survey says that more than half (58%) of Americans are willing to pay cash in exchange for one more hour in their day, and that the average amount that these people are willing to pay for that extra hour is $2,725.


From the TIME piece:

The fact that people are willing to shell out that kind of cash is, well, sad, but also indicative of a larger problem that is unfortunately hard to buy your way out of: An out-of-whack work-life balance.

Am I the only sane person left in this world?

Only 58% of people would pay money to add an hour to their day? What the hell are the other 42% thinking? Do they have any idea how valuable an extra hour a day could be?

Sorry. Stupid question. Clearly they do not.

Time is the most precious commodity on the planet. More valuable than oil or diamonds or fame or even cold, hard cash. Time is a tragically finite resource for which there will never be any replacement.

Time is the great equalizer. We all have 24 hours in a day. No more. No less. If you can get an extra hour on everyone else, you would be an idiot not to pay for it.

If given the opportunity to purchase anything in this world, you should always  purchase time first, and then time again and again and again.


Yet 42% of Americans would apparently not spend even a single dollar for an extra hour a day.

Clearly traumatic brain injury is a more serious problem than I ever imagined. 

Next, let’s look at the amount that the average American would be willing to spend for an extra hour a day: $2725.

Have these people also been hit in the head by large objects?

An extra hour a day for the rest of you life isn’t worth the price of a motorcycle? Season tickets to your favorite baseball team? One-fifth of the average kitchen remodel in America?

I would pay as much as I possibly could for an extra hour a day. I would take out a second mortgage on my home for an extra hour in my day. I would forfeit a year’s salary for an extra hour every day. I would have another child with my wife just so I could trade my third-born child for an extra hour in my day.

An extra hour a day amounts to an extra 15 days a year. That’s an additional year of life every 25 years.

An additional year of life is worth less than $2,700?

People are insane. Stupid and insane. 

Lastly, let’s look at the rant of TIME writer Melissa Locker again:

The fact that people are willing to shell out that kind of cash is, well, sad, but also indicative of a larger problem that is unfortunately hard to buy your way out of: An out-of-whack work-life balance.

Sad? Has Locker been struck in the head by a ballpein hammer, too? Does she not understand the value of an extra hour a day for the rest of your life?

Sorry. Stupid question again. Clearly she does not.

The desire for an extra hour in the day is not sad. It’s not indicative of an out-of-whack work-life balance. Desiring an extra hour every day (and being willing to pay for it) is common sense. It’s logic. It’s an understanding of time on an economic level. A clear-eyed view on how short and precious life is and how valuable one hour a day, seven hours a week, and 365 additional hours every year would be.

Sad to be willing to pay for an extra hour every day? I don’t think so. 

What’s truly sad it how people don’t realize how fragile and tenuous our lives really are. How fleeting our days on this planet will prove to be. How much they will they will have wished for those extra hours when facing the specter of death.

An extra hour every day would be the greatest opportunity imaginable. And the greatest bargain of all time at $2,7o0.

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