Sword in a Knife Fight

I don’t get how double edged sword means something good and bad. The phrase implies that you’ll cut your opponent with one edge and cut yourself with the other, but I don’t think that’s how swords work. Granted, I’ve never used a sword, let alone, compared the qualities of single v. double edged ones, but I have seen a lot of movies.

I have a scar on the pointer finger of my left hand that I got from mismanaging a banana situation. I had two bananas hanging from a banana hook and I wanted to eat one, but somehow let the last one remain on the hanger. Now, if I simply pulled the bananas apart, neither one would have enough stem to hang on a hook. I decided that I would cut the stem off of one, that way there would be a little stem-hook so the other one could hang.

For some moronic reason, I did this with the bananas still on the hanger. My knife sliced through the stem and right into my finger. Side note: the saying, you never cut yourself with a sharp knife, is more about being responsible with your equipment, and properly maintaining it, than the actual ability of a knife to cut a human. This was a very sharp knife.

I have something good and something bad. Good things: one banana to eat, and one banana that can hang. Bad things: a deeply cut finger, and two bloody bananas. It would seem then, that my single blade knife has become a double edged sword. I consider this an upgrade.  Now, I think I’ll go slay some dragon fruit.

 

Do I Still Pay Full Price, Then?

My first job was cooking at Perkins. It was pretty terrible. I was 16 and worked way longer and later than the law allowed. I worked with people who frequently did drugs…at work. But there was one thing we always did: prepare the food.

“No crap, Einstein. That’s sort of implied with your title, cook, huh?”

We’ll there’s where you’re wrong. I recently had a run-in with some food that required an additional step before eating. The Wife, Baby, and I were at Bubba Gump Shrimp (yeah, we fancy) and I ordered… the shrimp plate? … something like that. Anyway, I like shrimp, but don’t eat it much.

Our food arrives, and I begin eating. If you’re a frequent eater of sea-bugs, you probably can see where this is going. After a few minutes, the Wife mentions the basket in the center of the table for shells.

“What shells?” I reply.

“The shrimp. They have shells on them. You’re supposed to take the shells off first.”

silence

“Have you been eating the shells?”

“Yeah.”

“Didn’t you think that was weird?”

“I thought they were crunchy.”

“They have feet on them.”

“Yeah, so do cows and chickens. I eat a lot of things with feet. Pig’s feet are delicacies in a lot of places.”

And this brings me to my complaint; why was I supposed to take part in the preparation of my food? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I pay the cook to make the meal. If I order a cheeseburger, and I’m brought an un-cut bun, a cooked patty, and a plate of toppings, my response would be, “What in the f- is this?” However, everyone turns and drools when a plate of fajitas sizzles its was across a Mexican restaurant. Why can I, in the same restaurant, order a salad as a meal or get the salad bar and do all the f-ing work myself?

I like cooking. The Wife and I are pretty good at it, too. That doesn’t mean that we go to Fridays thinking, “We’re gonna show these little s-o-b’s how to make some wanton tacos, damnit!” No, I want the cook to cook, and I want my only obligation to be opening my mouth, jamming it with fried f-ing cheese, and getting the squirts 20 minutes after I get home.

Perchance, to Dream: Chapter 1

The bright lights of the waiting room glared off of the glossy magazine page, making Hayne curse under his breath. It was an old issue of National Geographic and this particular article was saying something about bees.

Or buzzing.

The bees weren’t buzzing right and they kept dying off.

Or they were getting sick.

The buzzing was probably just his head, the bees were on the page. That sounded right. Either way, Hayne had been reading the same paragraph for almost 30 minutes.

Hayne looked at his watch. The camera in it followed his eyes, calculated the distance, and projected the information just above the screen. 32 minutes, actually.

“Hayne?”

“Yep.”

“Right this way, sir.”

Hayne got up, and his ears began ringing slightly. He followed the nurse down an unpleasantly white hallway and was directed into a doctor’s office. Another copy of the National Geographic was in the office, but this one had crayon drawings all over it. Hayne thought that it was a nice touch, since the dull crayon was the least glaring thing in the office.

“Alright, just a minute and Dr. Lethe will be here,” the nurse said, closing the door behind her.

Hayne looked around the office. There were numerous posters about healthy sleeping habits. One claimed that going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day could increase your IQ by 50 points. The picture showed a young man with a frizzy grey wig on in a tasteless impersonation of Einstein.

“Hello!” The doctor said, slightly too loud for Hayne’s headache, and sat down at the desk. “So what brings you to Somnolence? ”

“Well, I haven’t been sleeping well. I don’t dream. I just go to sleep, and when I wake up, it feels like 5 minutes have passed, but I’ve been asleep all night.”

“I see,” he turned and a screen lit up on his desk. “How do you know you were asleep?”

“What?”

“If you were asleep, you weren’t conscious. How would you know you were sleeping?”

“I’m not sure I know how to answer that.”

Lethe wrote something down on his screen, making a slight, “hmm.”

“Tell me about your last dream.”

“Well, I’m not sure I remember the last time I had one.”

“Are you dreaming now?”

“…no.” Hayne said, really drawing out the O.

“Am I a dream?” He enunciated each word sharply. “Let me ask you this: the nurse, was she a robot or human?”

“Uh, I guess, human?”

“But you’re not certain?”

“I suppose not.”

Lethe turned to his screen again with another, “hmm.”

“One more question: how many am I holding?” He was holding his hand out, slightly cupped.

“I…are you…” Hayne opened and closed his mouth a few times as he mentally scrolled through all the words he knew to see if any of them would help.

Lethe snatched his hand back. “Very interesting. We’ll need to keep you overnight for observation. Are you free tonight?”

“Uh, sure. Tonight works fine. Do you…uh, do you have any idea what’s going on?”

“None whatsoever. The nurse will provide you with the information you need.” With that, Dr. Lethe stood, pivoted on his heel, and walked out of the room.

 

Bro Skater

I began skateboarding in 9th grade. One of my brothers bought me my first real board, and we would skate at the nearby elementary school parking lot. We had the Tony Hawk: Pro Skater demo that came free with a large, any-topping, Pizza Hut pizza, and fancied ourselves real f-ing thrashers.

One day, while rippin’ shiz up at Edison Elementary, my brother gets a great idea,

“Ok, I’m gonna get going on the swing, you toss me my board, I’ll jump off, and land. Easy.”

“Wait, throw you your board in the air?”

“No, while I’m swinging. It’ll be just like jumping off swings as a kid”

“…ok.”

My brother seemed convinced that this was a great idea. At this point, I could’ve said a few different things, all pointing to how this was a dumb idea, and likely to cause some form of injury. After all, there were a lot of moving parts (literally) to this plan: my brother on the swing, my questionable aim with a skateboard, him being able to catch a skateboard on a swing, and his timing of the jump. I’m the younger brother, though and caution isn’t our M.O. as a general rule.

So we put the plan into motion. He gets on the swing and builds up speed.

Actually, let me pause him there and set the scene a little better. I say elementary school swing set, but erase the image you have right now of a modern elementary school play-ground. Take out the rubber padding on the ground, spread down some nice gravel, raise the top bar of the up to 10 feet, and give the swings some metal chains with just a touch of rust. There we go.

Okay, he’s maxing out, head popping up over the top rail, and gives me the signal to throw him the board. I toss the board to him as he’s reaching the bottom of the downward swing and he snatches it out of the air. He swings up, and jumps off.

He jumps off at the very top of his arc.

Do you remember jumping off of swings? It was a fun physics lesson. Imagine the swing chain straight up and down. That’s the 90 degree point. For maximum distance, a kid should jump off at 45 degrees. Since he jumped off at the 0 degree point, he had no forward momentum or vertical momentum. This wasn’t great for him.

I watched as my brother rotated forward, and spread his arms into a swan dive, and hit the ground. He hit it hard. I saw him bounce off of the gravel.

It was a while before my brother could breathe without feeling pain in his ribs, but the memory of seeing the house across the street in the space between my brother and the ground as he bounced tickles my ribs to this day.

 

Finale

I may be the only person that feels sad when they think about the series finale of Wings. Well, I suppose the actors probably felt sad. I dunno. Anyway, as a kid, I felt like I was watching people leave on the last day of camp. I couldn’t tell you what happened, or even any of the character’s names, but I remember that feeling so vividly. To this day, I dislike the ends of sitcoms. Not even just the finales, I typically stop watching when the story arc is on it’s downward swing.

I think it’s because I become invested in the characters, as any fan of a show does, and don’t want to end the relationship with them. A good TV show gets you to understand these characters like you know them in real life. They have motives, they have dreams, plans futures, failings, flaws.

And we get to talk about them.

Constantly.

And not even feel bad about it!

Unlike real life, though, I don’t need to watch the finale. Ross will always be chasing Rachael. Fonzie never gets on that motorcycle. Mel Gibson never guest stars on the Simpsons. I can stay where I want to stay, see the story I want to see, and never reach an ending.

This may sound unhealthy. You may be thinking, “Well that’s life, buddy. Things end. Get over it.” That’s the thing; things in life do end. There’s often nothing we can do about it but watch something we had grown to love come to an end while a clip-show wrap-up runs through our head in slow-mo to Time of Your Life or whatever kids are crying about these days. We just have to go through it.

I know that the bitter makes the sweet, and you need to see a story through, but life throws enough endings at us as it is. For me, Bob Hope will always be dreaming.

 

Booze Your Own Adventure: Chapter 1

A few months ago, I decided to write a Choose Your Own Adventure novel for adults, called Booze Your Own Adventure. I’ve mapped out a -lot- of choices, and written several chapters. Why wait for it (if it ever does) get published though? Read the chapter. Vote for the choice you want. Next Sunday, I’ll post the chapter that won!

Now that we have the game, let’s play.

Booze Your Own Adventure

You’re sitting at your kitchen table, neat stacks of paper are lined up, and you’re practicing the presentation you’ll be giving tomorrow morning. This is a big opportunity for you, and you haven’t been taking it lightly. You have all your handouts ready, great slides, and you have your speech down.

You get up to pour yourself another cup of coffee. “I really shouldn’t,” you think to yourself, “I don’t want to be up all night.”

Boo-de-dee! You get a text from one of your best friends. “10 cent drinks @ Pinchester Tavern get your ass down here!!!!!”

You pause and think about your response. On one hand, your presentation is the beginning of a major opportunity at the small company you work for. Your success could bring on multiple clients, and really make the business take off. On the other, you’ve been spending so much time at work lately, your social life has begun to suffer. You miss your friends and really want to blow off some steam.

“Would one drink really be so bad?” you think to yourself.

 

 

ROFLOMGLOL

The first time I remember making people laugh was in kindergarten. We were playing Duck, Duck, Goose (if you say it’s duck, duck, gray duck, you’re from Minnesota, and wrong. Here’s the research). I digress. So, we were playing DDG, and I thought, “you know what, I’m not gonna say goose. I’m gonna say duck, duck, moose. That’ll be funny, right?”

I started my run. Duck, I tap the first kid on the head. I keep going, letting a few kids pass. The suspense was building. Duck, I tap the second kid. Electricity cracks in the air with the tension. Eyes flick back and forth as each kid estimates my distance from them and calculates the odds that they’ll be the goose. The time is right. I make my move.

MOOSE!

It. Killed. The class was in an uproar. I could’ve run around that circle four times before the laughter even began to subside. I looked over at the teacher, knowing that I had just flipped the system on its head with my laser-line satire. A hint of a smile and I knew she got it, she was down with what we were about.

And that’s why I take issue with, “lol.” I’m not trying to start a series on words (or maybe I will, I’m not on trial here) but I’ve got a problem with the way people are abusing it.

If you write, “lol,” and you didn’t laugh out-loud, what does that say about you? Maybe, you want to convey a lightheartedness of meaning. Or maybe, you write, “lol,” the way some people laugh after they say something that others may find uncomfortable/distracting/upsetting/unpleasant, with the, “lol,” as a manifestation of the dissonance between what you said and your image of yourself. Or maybe you’re just and idiot, who am I to say?

Whatever the cause may be, I’d like to submit a formal request to the world; if you didn’t, “lol,” please don’t say that you did. As someone who spends a great deal of time an energy smart-mouthing, wise-cracking, and pun-punching, I’m genuinely interested in making you laugh. If you actually laughed out loud, wonderful! Maybe you rolled on the floor whilst laughing. Even better!

So, here’s what I propose. If your comment isn’t a joke, in response to a joke, or isn’t even funny on accident, don’t say, “lol.” You have no real reason to. Simply take four more seconds and figure out a better why to say what you’re thinking or feeling.

More likely though, you “lol,” because you thought something was witty, but didn’t actually laugh out loud. In this case, let’s use, “qcts,” Quietly Chuckled To Self or, “limh,” Laughed In My Head. Seems more accurate, don’t you think?

So You Speak German, Then?

Why is it okay to be a nazi when grammar is involved?

“I really don’t care what the affect is, here.”
“Actually, it’s effect in this situation.”
“What?”
“You meant to say effect instead of affect. Sorry, I’m kind of a grammar nazi.”

I know I slept in history class, but I don’t recall the nazi’s walking up to folks and saying, “Um, I think you meant to say christian. Sorry, I’m kind of a nazi.” That didn’t happen. You’re not a grammar nazi; you’re a stickler for grammar at best, an ass at worst.

Also, isn’t it a massive slap in the face to all the people who really fought/were under captivity by actual nazi’s to just tag that word on to stuff? I know, Seinfeld had the Soup nazi episode, but you know what? You’re not Jerry f-ing Seinfeld. Make one of the best sitcoms of all-time, then you can throw around nazi.

Now, I’m not saying that people should just run around, saying words with little regard to their meaning. I’m saying the opposite of that. Nazi has a meaning, and you’re using it wrong.

10 Things You Shouldn’t Do In A Store

10 – Say, “I guess its free today,” when a item isn’t ringing up – I get it. I’ve heard it 20 times. Today. Checkout equipment is expensive and companies use them for as long as they can. Also, bar codes can get scuffed. Remember, a laser is trying to read a series of black lines. Can you explain how that works? Then don’t make fun of it when it doesn’t.

We get that you’re trying to be friendly, but please, retire this joke.

9 – Pick up an item, look at it, and set it down in any orientation other than the way you found it – The last two hours (if not more) of any retail employee’s shift are cleaning up after customers. “Isn’t that what they’re paid to do?” you may ask. Okay, but by that logic, you should break into your neighbor’s place, murder them, then start their home on fire so that police and firefighters have something to do. They do these things because society requires it, not the business.

And really, what kind of justification is that? If you’re being honest, you just don’t care. You have kids? What do you think they’re learning from that?
Consider what would an employee do if they didn’t need to clean up after you. They could get more product out so the shelves aren’t empty of the things you’re looking for. They could spend more time helping people. They could be getting additional training so that they can better answer questions. Ultimately, they’ll have a better working environment (since putting away the same toy multiple times a day is intensely demoralizing) and be in a better mood to help you.

 8 – Open a package to look at an item, then put the item down without re-packaging it– Similar to number 9, but this one has the added bonus of damaged packaging. Products are packaged in one of two ways: to encourage customer interaction, or to discourage it. Toy packages are designed so that a child can play with the toy while it is still packaged and then pester the parent to buy it for him/her. Food packages have multiple layers to ensure product freshness and prevent tampering and contamination.

Between these two extremes are a range of other types which are designed to protect the product from damage during shipping, while still displaying the contents. Please don’t open these unless you really, really need to. Have you ever found the item you were looking for, pushed aside the damaged box sitting up front, and grabbed one of the undamaged boxes behind it? Guess how that box got that way.

Boxes damaged during shipping are seldom put out on the salesfloor. When customers return damaged or used products, these are returned to the vendors as per contracts between the vendor and the store. On the rare occasion that these two instances lead to a product being displayed, it will be marked down or discounted in some way, not just put back on the shelf. What does this mean?

This means that you don’t need to open packages to see if the contents are alright for fear of other customers tampering with the product. When you see other damaged boxes, its because of other people, like you, checking the contents. Essentially, you’re inspecting the box to make sure you haven’t damaged it.  

7. Set frozen/refrigerated goods in the soda cases by the checkout lines – I know you’re an important person, but before you grab that chicken, think to yourself, “do I want to buy this?” If the answer is no, don’t pick up the item.

Frozen and refrigerated goods are kept to strict standards for how long they can be outside of controlled temperatures for safety and liability reasons. The amount of time it takes you to purchase the product and take it home is unlikely to allow the product to thaw. However, if you hide the product, it may have enough time. You’re now putting the health of other people at risk. Consider the following scenario:

You think, “I may feel like chicken, tonight,” and grab a package of frozen chicken. You continue shopping, adding things to the cart, walking around. As you’re checking out, you realize you forgot the coupon for the chicken and stick it next to some Pepsi. What you don’t realize, however is that a small rip has opened in the packaging of the chicken due to a bump against a larger box. The chicken is not noticed until the next day, when it is discarded.

During the night, the chicken thawed, and dripped onto the surrounding soda. A customer, mistaking the chicken-juice for condensation, simply ignores the wetness of the bottle and touches the bottle to her head for relief from the warm summer sun. -Fade to black

Gross right? I know things happen. If you realize you don’t want a product, for whatever reason, please give it to the cashier instead of hiding it somewhere.
 
6 – Leave your empty cup on a shelf – When I find cups with liquid still in it, I think, “Oh bummer, I bet they forgot this.” When I find an empty cup, I think, “Asshole.” You’re in a building. There are garbage cans. Use them. You’re not so damn important that you can’t throw away your own trash.

5 – Stick Gum to Things – This is similar to the cup, but gum dries and sticks to things. Also, it was in your mouth, being ground up with your saliva and whatever you ate earlier that day.

If you put gum on something, you’re a piece of garbage and I hope you’re hit by a bus. Does that seem too harsh? Let me run you through my thinking. No one, even the gum-stickers themselves, would say that sticking gum on tables, chairs, etc. is a nice thing to do. I would wager that, universally, this is seen as dickish. Now, since we agree this is rude, why do people do it?

Again, you’re in a store. Again, there are trash cans. Again, you’re not so special that you get to say, “I’ve finished mashing this with my teeth. I’ll leave it here, on the underside of this table. People will wonder about what king or queen so thoughtfully left this here for me to clean up.”

4 – Leave dirty diapers in the shopping cartFirst off, a dirty diaper should never find its way into a shopping cart, let alone, need to find its way out. Second, this.

I have a kid. I change diapers. Throw that shit (literally) in the trash can in the bathroom.

3 – Leave your cart somewhere other than a cart corral – I know, you’ve just finished the arduous task of walking through a well-lit building, selecting the various things you’d like to purchase.  I know, you had to push that cart around the store, and across the parking lot. What a chore! I’m with you. Let me throw something at you though:

First, if you put carts back, employees can retrieve them in a more timely fashion. Remember what I said about putting things away earlier? Go ahead and CTRL C CTRL V that here. 

Second, not putting your cart back in the corral puts people’s cars at risk of getting hit by them. Have you ever noticed that above cart corrals it says, “We are not liable for damage from shopping carts,” or something similar? That’s because people don’t put their carts away, a gust of wind comes along, sweeping the cart along with it, right into the side of a car. It really happens. I’ve seen it happen. A lot. Your laziness may result in hundreds of dollars of damage to someone’s car.

Third, putting your cart on the grass or on something similar is not an acceptable alternative. The amount of work it takes you to manhandle a shopping cart up onto a curb is greater than simply putting it where it is supposed to go.

Fourth, this includes the cart area inside the store. Sure, you used the cart in the store but you only got a few things. You don’t need the cart now that your stuff is bagged, so you give it a push toward all the other carts. Then 15 more people do the same thing. Now the area is full of carts, people can’t walk through, and a cashier needs to stop cashiering and go clean up the mess.

2 – Forget How to Use Bathrooms – I’m not sure what happens in the human brain when a person walks into a public/business bathroom, but I’ve seen the results. It’s as if people are walking into a bathroom for the first time, with a brand new set of personal equipment.

Wash your hands. Go ahead and reread the link to fecal coliform. Now think about all the products you handle while shopping. Gross. Hand washing is a thing for a reason. You know what people didn’t do during the spread of the black plague? Wash their hands (among other things).

Next, I understand that you sometimes need to use a bathroom during an emergency. Please, make sure you’re on the toilet before you begin to go. I have cleaned poop off of floors, doors, seats, and walls. Also during an emergency, you may need to use a greater than normal amount of TP. That’s fine. Please give the toilet a fighting chance, though, and use multiple flushes instead of jamming half a roll of paper into the toilet so it overflows and shit-water floods the bathroom.

1 – Be Rude to the Employees – Now, I’m not saying you should ignore when you’ve been spoken to rudely, or not speak to a manager when something has happened. I’m talking about customer initiated rudeness.

Please, don’t walk up to an employee and ask for help by saying the item that you’re looking for. If an employee doesn’t see you, they aren’t being rude, and coming up next to someone and saying, “Vacuums,” is. Maybe that’s how you say, “hello,” where you’re from, I don’t know. What I do know is saying, “Hello, where are the vacuums?” is only four more words.

Second, yelling is not how to get what you want. Sometimes things don’t work out how you expect them to, and you’re dissatisfied as a customer. Understandable, it’s happened to me as well. The correct course of action is far easier than yelling, and yields much better results.

When you and an employee have reached an impasse, you feel that you’ve been mistreated, or there is a problem, the person working the cash register is unlikely to be equipped to help you. More often than not, you’re dealing with a young person with little training (remember what I said about putting things away?) and little authority to override company protocol. The person you want is the manager.

Calmly say to the employee, “I’d like to speak with a manager.” Not, “I wanna talk to your manager!” Not, “I’m never coming here again!”

When the manager arrives, speak to him or her calmly as well. When you’re turned up to 11, staff will want you to leave the store before you make a scene, not keep your business. When you’re calm, they’ll respect your attitude and will go out of their way to make sure that you leave feeling that you were heard and that your problem was addressed. 

I’ve heard people say that they can’t find good customer service anymore. It seems odd that those are often the rudest people to deal with. Children still have these rules of politeness presented to them daily, and it shows. If you want good customer service, be a good customer.