I'm a fraud. Maybe not of major proportions, but I am a fraud. "How so?" you ask. Let me tell you. On those exceptionally rare occasions when my tirades have sounded the least bit intellectual, it's usually been because of something that I had to research. If some intellectual-sounding thought crept unexpectedly into one of my columns without intensive research on my part, its appearance was purely accidental and almost certainly unnoticed by me.
I don't mean that I've copied anyone's words verbatim. And when I have quoted someone or even just incorporated their thoughts into my pieces I've always done my best to credit them fully. No, it's not that I'm a plagiarist or even a petty cerebral leach. It's just that I've occasionally attempted to come across as an intellectual when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
True intellectuals often have at their fingertips the references, facts, and concepts that I have to look up. And they almost always are able to understand the complex concepts they discuss or are at least able to convincingly pretend that they do. I usually can't. Worse, after I've looked something up, I normally forget it the instant I've used it in a column. One of the very few things that I greatly appreciate about my advancing age is that it has given me something to blame that failing on, false as the blame may be. I've been searching for just such an excuse for most of my life.
As an aside, there were also times when people thought they saw hidden meanings in my columns when I had not intentionally put them there. What's more, the readers' suggestions as to the nature of my intents usually had not entered my mind until the readers mentioned it. In some cases, these people mistook the nonexistent meanings as an attempt at intellectualism. However, I don't consider that to be deceptive as it was not deliberate. A reader simply read something between the lines that I didn't knowingly put there, so that's not what I'm talking about here.
What am I referring to when I confess to fraudulent intellectualism? Here's an example. Before writing this week's column, I was reasonably certain that "Parting is such sweet sorrow" was from one of Shakespeare's plays, but I wasn't entirely certain of that, nor was I convinced that I fully comprehended all that Shakespeare, or whichever author it really was, meant by it. And, if it was indeed Shakespeare, I had only a vague guess as to which of his plays it came from. In the past, after looking something like that up, I probably would have just written, "As Shakespeare said, 'Parting is such sweet sorrow' " without letting you know that, when I first set out to write the column, I had not been certain that Shakespeare wrote it. By the way, it was Shakespeare. And it turns out that my vague guess was right. It's from Romeo and Juliet. I looked it up.
This might seem like a weird way to start a technology tirade. That shouldn't be surprising. Anyone who has read a few of these columns knows that I'm no stranger to weird ways to start technology tirades, but that's not why I did it. I used this opening because I have no intention of writing a technology tirade this week. If you were expecting one, I apologize. You won't find it here. This week's introduction was intended for one reason and one reason only: To afford me an opportunity to introduce the notion that "parting is such sweet sorrow."
You see, this is the last of my regular columns in this space. And, despite the fact that I'm not intellectual enough to be confident that I fully understand the deeper meaning that Shakespeare intended in that line, if, indeed, he intended one at all, in this particular case I definitely do feel that parting is such sweet sorrow, even if my sentiment does not come close to matching what Shakespeare had in mind. Or maybe it does. I just don't know.
First, the sorrow part. There is a lot that I'm going to miss. For example, over the almost three years that I've been writing these columns, many people have sent emails to tell me how much they've enjoyed them. I've taken great pleasure in reading those notes—or at least the ones that I or one of my spam filters didn't accidentally delete after, regrettably, mistaking it for spam. Reading these complimentary—some embarrassingly so—emails did wonders for my disposition, not to mention my ego.
Finding a paid advertisement in the midst of one of my articles also brought me immense joy. You have no idea what a tremendous boost it was to my ego to know that somebody was willing to lay down some serious dollars to sponsor my drivel. I cannot possibly thank those advertisers enough. Buy their wares. They are good people who, hopefully, will still advertise here so that MC Press can afford to continue to bring you high-quality articles. (Once I'm gone, it'll be able to do that every week, rather than in just the issues that opened up when I stopped writing weekly.)
Then again, a few people wrote less-than-complimentary emails to the editor. (For some reason, people who had wonderful things to say usually said them to me, but people making derogatory remarks typically emailed the editor. I've appreciated that state of affairs, but it probably didn't make the editor's day, or the days of the other people at MC Press, any better.) The number of negative emails fell off to almost zero after the first year or so, which I suspect is a result of the people who don't like my writing figuring out that they are not required to read it. Either that or the editor stopped telling me about the criticisms.
Not surprisingly, I didn't enjoy the deprecating emails nearly as much as the "fan mail," but I still appreciate the fact that I moved those critics enough to take the initiative to make their feelings known, even if their feelings were sometimes brutal. I won't miss these people quite as much as the flattering ones, but I still thank them for showing an interest.
Lest there be any doubt, let me say that MC Press has not pushed me out as a result of the occasional complaint; quite the contrary. This has been my decision. There is no doubt in my mind that MC Press truly wants to make as many of its readers happy as it possibly can, but the people at MC have been quite encouraging to me despite the occasional reader who would prefer it otherwise. In fact, in the past, whenever I suggested calling it quits, the editor has done her best to convince me to stick with it.
While I'm talking about the editor, Victoria Mack, I would be remiss if I didn't say that she has been, by far, the most fun part of this tirade gig. I've cherished our conversations and her superb editing skills. Not only did Victoria fix my spelling, grammar, punctuation, and convoluted sentences, but she also took great pains to direct my attention to interesting news items, many of which ended up as inspirations for my tirades.
Any mistakes that slipped into my articles have been entirely my fault. Your enjoyment of the columns—assuming that you did, in fact, enjoy them—is due in large part to Victoria's skills. If you didn't enjoy them, I'm definitely the one to blame for that.
If MC Press is agreeable, I plan to still do some non-tirade writing for its publications, and if some brilliant idea pops into my head (not likely, considering my head), I may even write the occasional tirade and submit it as an IMHO column for consideration aside the other commendable authors who have appeared here, so my working relationship with Victoria may not come to a complete stop, but I'll miss working with her on a regular basis. (Victoria, I no longer have any particularly strong reason to suck up to you, so you can trust my words here.)
Relinquishing the appreciative missives and my work with Victoria will be a deep sorrow indeed.
Now for the sweet part—the thing from which parting will be glorious. Writing a weekly column, or even the bi-weekly columns that I cut back to a few months ago, has been a tremendous grind. Writing one that is humorous (or is supposed to be) and, at the same time, a little bit biting (or, again, is supposed to be) has been especially challenging. Restricting the columns to just technology topics—even though MC Press gave me considerable leeway to use a very broad definition of technology—intensified the challenge. Unfortunately, it's a challenge which, if I'm being honest, and I try to be, I must admit I have not particularly enjoyed (that's putting it exceptionally mildly) for a while now. The drudgery and nerve-wracking ordeal is something I will not miss.
So this is it. To my loyal reader(s) and to everyone else who is enough of a glutton for punishment to have read this far in this week's obscenely self-indulgent column: Goodbye. May your life be filled with love, peace, prosperity, health, and happiness—or some reasonable facsimile thereof.