The Blogging Affairs Desk

When It’s Good, It’s Good, When It’s BAD, It’s Better…

Burning Down the House

We have a fireplace.

It’s the first place I’ve ever lived in with a fireplace as an adult.  When I was a kid, living in New Hampshire, we had this enormous fireplace where my father threatened to toss my toys into if I didn’t pick up after myself.  I remember many winter nights with a roaring fire, mom and dad on the couch with a drink each, and me on the rug in front of the fire with my plastic green army men that my father would in turn step on the next morning, cursing and pitching each one into the fireplace to meet a melty-end.

Now that I’m an adult, I’ve craved a fireplace.  There’s something awesome about a giant flame in your living room that you can watch.  Put on any tv show, any at all, and it won’t compare to a good, well-built fire in your fireplace.  Hell, I can’t even put the tv on and have a fire at the same time.  I think it’s disrespectful to the fire gods.

So last night I had a fire going.  Ang suggested it actually, because it’s been bitterly cold around here lately.  I had some wood and some materials to burn, so fuck it, let’s have a fire.

Ang was in the kitchen making a stew and I started to load up the fireplace.  If you’ve never built a fire in a fireplace, let me break it down for you:  You need to start a base of crumpled newspapers.  Take one sheet of old newspaper and crumple into into a loose ball.  You can’t crumple it into a tight ball because oxygen won’t get inside the material and allow it to burn fully.  Instead you’ll just get little burning balls of material that won’t spread the fire.

So after you’ve crumpled up a dozen or so balls of newspaper you then set up your wood base.  Small pieces of scrap wood work best, because they’ll catch easier than say a whole log.  A log requires a lot of heat to burn through, otherwise the fire will patter out long before the log is fully engulfed and have a chance to provide you with a lasting fire.  Scrap wood will burn quick and through, generating that log heat.

After you get a good small fire going, with lots of red and orange flames, add one log at a time.  A log should be about 12 to 16 inches in length, maybe 4 to 6 inches in diameter.  Wait til the first log catches and add another.  With two logs burning, you should have enough flame to last you about an hour.  Add logs as appropriate, never letting the fire burn down to just embers.

Oh, and an important tip: make sure your flume is open BEFORE you do any of this.

But it wasn’t the flume I forgot to open last night as I started my fire.  It was the materials I was burning.

It’s somewhat bad practice to burn anything other than wood and paper in the fireplace, however I’ve burnt boxes from Xmas and last night a shoe box that was taking up room in my closet.  I had built up my fire with too much material to begin with, starting with that newspaper base and then some chunked up portions of plywood that we had once used to stiffen up our bed when we couldn’t fit the boxspring in our old apartment.  I had used three sections of this chopped up plywood to make a small A-frame in the fireplace, with the paper underneath everything and the shoebox under the two pieces making the “roof” of the A-frame.

Obviously everything caught, and burnt fast.  Before I knew it, flames were licking out of the metal screen and onto the hearth.  Thankfully we don’t have a mantle.

Ang, becoming concerned with the amount of smoke and brightness of the fire took one look at the fireplace and immediately bailed out of the house.  The smoke detector started to go off which led the dog to freak out.  Meanwhile, I started to fill up the smallest fucking measuring cup we own with water to help knock down the flames.

After about five attempts with the measuring cup and a scorched finger later, the materials in the fireplace were soaking in about an inch of water, crackling, pitching embers out of the flume.  I waved the smoke away from the smoke detector and Ang came back in.

If I could see through the smoke, I’m sure I would’ve seen Ang giving me that look that every wife spends hours a day perfecting; that “you know you fucked up, right?” look.

I cleared my throat, eyes burning a bit, finger tip throbbing.  “Uh, I’m gonna go do those dishes…”

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, The Great Indoors | , , | 1 Comment

350 Million People CAN be wrong….

So I restarted my Facebook account over the weekend, but only out of necessity.  You see, when we moved into our new digs, we neglected to check our cell phones to see what kind of reception we would be getting with the place until after we signed all the paper work and checks, etc.

Turns out, we’re lucky to get one bar, by the windows.  Usually it’s no bars or the dreaded ‘no signal’.  However, both those options are better than “searching….” being displayed, because while ‘searching’ for a signal, your phone traditionally uses more battery power, as it tries to boost it’s internal antenna to grab a signal it thinks is just out of its reach.

We’ve been getting by just on internet alone.  Thankfully having wifi enabled phones allows us to connect to our internet connection at home, so our iPhones aren’t just expensive paper weights that I drop 175 bucks on a month.

The problem becomes when one of us is home and the other is out and about running errands or working.  There’s no way to make a phone call or send a text to the person who’s away because there’s no cell reception.  We found this out relatively quickly on one of our first nights at the new apt when I ran out to the store to get milk, and Ang wanted me to pick up Nilla Wafers and paper towels as well.

Without ‘Push’ notification, email on the iPhone only updates every 15 minutes, meaning I could’ve gone to the store and came back in the amount of time it would’ve taken me to get the message if I wasn’t constantly refreshing my gmail (Apple offers MobileMe, which for a subscription price of 100 bucks a year, you get Push and Cloud features)

There’s the option of getting a traditional landline, an option I’m still giving deep consideration to.  My job somewhat dictates that I be accessible at all hours, and if I don’t have a working phone, it’s an issue.  My company actually provides free (1980s era) cell phones to employees who don’t have or can’t afford a cell phone, they’re that serious.

The problem with a landline is that it’s going to cost an arm and a leg down the line.  Comcast (our cable and internet monopoly provider) offers a deal where if you get cable, internet and a phone line you only pay like 100 bucks a month, oppose to just having cable and internet (like we do) and paying 110-120 bucks a month (like we do).

The rub is that after 6 months, Comcast jacks the price of the service up to 140 clams, leaving you either with the option to get rid of something, or pay out the ass.

I spoke with the installation tech who hooked up our cable and internet at the new apartment about the offer and this is what he said:

Call and speak to a customer service rep,” he suggested while speaking in an Irish brogue.  “They can sometimes set up deals with customers, like extended contacts for a certain price per month, that sort of thing,”

“But, what if I don’t want to pay the corporation, … maybe I’d rather just deal with the man on the street?”  I hinted.  He grinned a gnarled grin that only someone with a knowledge of the British Isles could love and brushed off the obvious attempted bribe.

Sorry, it’s not the same as it used to be, where we could just program the box to give you free HBO or Pay-Per-View, it’s all monitored and regulated by dispatchers now, sorry.  But seriously, give them a call, and see if they’ll work with you.  They’re more inclined to make a deal, because it’s money in their pocket in the long run,” and he has a point.

Though, he did fuck up the install, requiring me to call Comcast later that night from the end of the driveway.  While some phone jockey gave me instructions on rebooting our modem and changing out the signal to our wifi, I had to place my phone in the dirt and run back and forth from our apartment to take the necessary steps in ensuring our computers had proper internet connection.  So what does he know, really?

The next option we briefly explored was using Skype, the Voice Over Internet Protocol service that let’s people video chat for free around the world.

Skype would’ve been a great fix-it option if it weren’t for the fact you need wifi to make it work.  Due to AT&T’s business practices, apps and services like Skype can’t make calls on the infamously bogged down 3G Network.  Calling out from home would be no problem, since there’s wifi there; it would be making calls to home where we’d need to find a hotspot someplace.

I found this out while at work all weekend, where I desperately ran around my office’s property in the dead of night with my phone out in front of me, trying to locate the strongest unlocked wifi signal from the surrounding houses so I could steal some bandwidth and call my wife.

Hint:  If your wireless network is named ‘linksys’, I’m pretty sure it’s being abused by some dude parked out front of your house right now with a laptop full of porn.

So, tired of emailing back and forth, which in this day-n-age without Push Notification is similar to communicating by message in a bottle, Ang suggested I open the dusty crypt that held my old Facebook account, reactivate it, and use the chat on there.

The Facebook iPhone App isn’t bad, and I don’t have a real beef with it.  Its minimalist, like how Facebook used to be, easy to navigate and its chat feature is similar to the iPhone’s SMS/MMS screen.

It was a gut wrenching decision, honestly, because I wanted to leave Facebook behind me.  I’m 28 years old, and in my humble opinion, I’m in the waning years of online social networking.  I use Twitter extensively, because there’s no real bells or whistles to it; I post something that’s on my mind, or post a link to this blog, and let it ride from there.

With Facebook, there’s too much required involvement.  I have to ‘poke’ back everyone that pokes me, even if I don’t want to.  Someone’s bound to send me some virtual gift that I sure as hell don’t want, but will have to comment on, lest I look like a fucking Scrooge.

There are too many people for me to keep in touch with as ‘friends’ only because they’re associated with people I interact with.  I don’t want to get status updates (and subsequently the notifications regarding a status I commented on from people I don’t even know) from the wife of a guy I work with, because she decided to ‘friend’  me after raiding her husband’s friend’s list and wanted to pad her own numbers.

I can’t reject her request, because then I’ll hear about it from the guy:

“Dude, be friends with my wife,” I don’t even know her name!  I just have the unsolicited knowledge that you two like to ‘do it’ doggystyle!

And speaking of  the people I work with,  I’d like to keep most of them at an arm’s reach distance.  I can’t unfriend them, because again, I’ll fucking hear about it in real life.

And that’s really the point: when I got rid of Facebook, the biggest reason of all was to reduce the amount of ridiculous , unnecessary drama that was bleeding into my life.  With anyone with a set of ovaries who posted on my wall, I’d be grilled by my wife and her Spetznas-like interrogation tactics.

Have you ever been waterboarded while trying to make pancakes for breakfast?  It sucks.

But wanting to be able to at least text with my wife meant more to me than dealing with Facebook and the bullshit associated with it.  Fuck it, I thought, who cares?

Within 24 hours I was back to checking my News Feed every twenty minutes.

Fuck you Facebook.  Fuck you.

December 8, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, People I Hate, People I Love, The Great Indoors | , , , , | 2 Comments

My Driving Doesn’t Suck, You’re Just a Shitty Passenger.

My wife tends to think that my driving is the product of a one night stand where the devil failed to pull out of a 1980 El Camino, which he was slapping while fucking doggystyle.

Now that you’ve surely digested that bit of mental imagery, I’m here to say that my driving doesn’t suck; I’m actually a very good, well-trained coxswain of the highway.

Let’s look past how I barely passed my MCJA EVOC (Emergency Vehicle Operators Course) with an 80, the lowest passing score, on my second of only two tries.  If those parking cones had really been children, I’m sure most of them would have jumped out of the way.

The car had sirens for a reason, people.

But no, let’s analyze my driving right now:  The faults I have are numerous; however I make up for it by being attuned to what’s going on around me.  My wife will be quick to point out that I miss things while driving, like apparently a giant rock that hit her windshield while we were driving out to Niagara a short while back.

I didn’t even hear this “rock” hit the windshield.  If it was so big, why didn’t I hear it, huh?

She’ll also be quick to point out that I miss other things, like objects on the side of the road.  Mind you, they’re usually on the passenger’s side of the road, and if I noticed them, I likely would miss the toll booths we’d be racing towards at 80 mph and the dithering toll collector crossing between the booths.

My wife’s driving is terrible, far worse than mine, not for lack of skill, but for lack of concentration.  Often she’s fiddling with something, like the car’s AC,

or her phone,

or her phone charger,

or her Altoids,

or her cup of coffee,

or trying to fill out a bank slip long before we’re even at the bank

or glancing at “interesting” shit on the side of the road, and will miss an exit.  This, and the fear of being killed while I’m asleep, means that I stay bolt upright and awake during all of our travels where she drives.

Hence, why 4/5s the time I’m usually the one in the driver’s seat.

Yes I drive “hard”; I speed, tailgate, get agitated with slower moving traffic, and often cuss under my breath at the unbelievable bullshit I see while operating on a motorway.  I see Barbie texting like crazy, while diddling the radio knob.  I see Ken eating a goddamn cheeseburger and steering with his knee.  I see Old Man Smithers jacking it to a yellowed copy of Hustler from 9 years ago.

I said it was unbelievable bullshit.

So what if I check Google Maps from my phone to ensure we’re going the right way (which is what I was doing in the photo from her article)?  So what if I nudge into traffic with the gentleness of a PCP snorting elephant?  So what if I cut through a DO NOT ENTER and travel a quarter mile down a one way street at night with my lights off while fumbling around with a loaded pistol?

I’m not hurting anyone.

I refuse to admit that I’m a ‘bad driver’ only because I try really hard not to text and drive…. It’s only because with an iPhone it’s next to impossible to text and drive and have anything come out that’s remotely coherent.  It’s just easier to make an actual phone call.

And on farting?  I crack the window an inch to create greater suction.  There’s a scientific name for it, but I can’t remember it.  But keep in mind, I’m not going to crank down the windows to air out my shitty smelling farts; no that would only trap the fart in the back of the car with the dog, beating it senseless (the fart), confusing it, not letting it escape until some sort of cellular dispersion occurred and all the shit crystals spread far enough away from each other so you wouldn’t be overpowered by the stench.  No, a small, one inch crack in the window will sufficiently suck the offensive, strict-protein-diet-fueled gasses out and put them on the street with everything else that smells: Trash, Hookers and The Mets.

And while I’m driving the bus, let me tell you this:  My wife farted on me once.  We were in bed, she thought I was fast asleep, she had her legs up over mine, and she let out a little tooter.  Yes, a quiet little “toot” escaped her rear end.  The thing is, I wasn’t fast asleep, I was wide awake with my eyes closed.  So when I opened them to make her face the shame of her crime, she quickly snapped her eyes shut to pretend that she had been sleeping all along.  So I just stared at her until she tried to crack one of her eyes back open to see if I noticed her little fanny burp.

I was staring directly at her, with a cold expression on my face that was something caught between betrayal and hatred.

Yeah, talk some shit about my driving.  See if I don’t put you on blast for being gassy.  That’s how I do.

November 23, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Out and About, Shameless Self Promotion, Smells Like Children | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hey, Hold The Phone…

Just wanted to shout out all the folks migrating over to my site from IRdC. Thanks for stopping by.  I try to post at least twice a week, but with my work schedule it’s not always possible, so stay tuned, check back often.  Next article will be up probably Monday.

But in the meantime, why not check out my wife Ang’s blog? She’d also want me to tell you that she got locked out of our house the other day by some dipshit realtor who was showing our apartment when neither one of us was home, causing me to nearly kick through someone’s chest cavity.

That said, go check out her blog. I bet she’ll write about her experience.

Thanks again for stopping by, and see you Monday folks!

November 20, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Not Enough Time | , , , , | Leave a comment

Reviewed: Modern Warfare 2

Kazakhstan: a hellish frozen tundra that would easily be confused with some other planet rather than a former communist bloc satellite country of the Soviet Union.

But alas, being a member of the super secret and elite Task Force 141, you don’t exactly get to pick and choose which locales “they” send you to.  You might be freezing your ass off in the Permafrost today, sweating it on in the narrow funnels of death that make up the shantytowns of Rio.

Infinity Ward’s beyond-anticipated “Modern Warfare 2” dropped this week, and I finally got my hands on it, though not my own copy.  No, for my own, I’m apparently going to have to wait for Xmas.

“Ang, I need to know, are you going to get me Modern Warfare for Xmas?  Cuz if you’re not, I’m just going to go and buy it – right now” I said with half a foot out the door, pointed in the general direction of the mall.  At 28 years old, I don’t get excited for new games like I used to when I was a seldom-bathing college kid eight years ago, but when a massive game, one you’ve been dying for since this time LAST YEAR finally hits the streets, it’s like a crack fiend finding a lonely rock in the bottom of his pocket after going dry for a few hours.

“Yeah, I am going to get it for you,” my wife says from next to a cutting board where she’s working some cucumbers into the evening’s meal.

“Ok, well, would you be interested in getting it for me NOW… and you know, it can be an early Xmas gift?”

“No,” she chops into the cuke hard with finality.  “I imagine it’s going to be such a pain in the ass to get that game for you around the holidays that I refuse to have you go and get it for yourself, no.”

I frown.

“Or, ok, you can get it, or I can get it right now … but you can’t play it til Xmas.”

Ah, the bitch!

Though, procuring the game will be easier than she knows.  After a month and a half after any major game’s release there’s going to be plenty of used copies in circulation, thanks to the numerous fanboys who consume a hot game like “Modern Warfare 2” in its entirety a few short hours after purchase and move on like a pack of locusts.  Hell, I would imagine now, even after a few short days since its release there’s bound to be a used copy at the local GameStop.

However, I don’t know if I can last that long – “til Xmas”, ugh.

But fortunately for me, a guy I work with has a cooler wife than I, who let him go and get it, and he brought it into work so at lunch we could all crowd around the giant tv in our lounge and watch the Suburbs of Washington DC get pulverized by Russian regular army.

As you can tell, MW2 takes its queues from mostly war fantasy, oppose to the earlier incarnations of the “Call of Duty” franchise which were mostly settled in and around historically-accurate World War 2.  The trend to break away from the oversaturated WW2 shooter market started in 2007 with Infinity Ward’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” where the franchise went for a more current events-type look and feel.  Between the two games, MW and MW2, there was “COD5: World at War” which borrowed heavily from MW’s graphic’s engine to bring players familiar with the franchise back to WW2 with an updated look.

And that brings us to the technical aspects of MW2:  It doesn’t look much different from MW in the aspect that the surroundings and people all share the same rendering.  Sure, character outfits have changed and you’re engaging Brazilians oppose to Arabs in some respects, but the character movements and interactions don’t fall far from the original MW tree.

However, along with the storyline what does get an improvement is the arsenal of weaponry that’s available to the player, along with the ability to double fist small arms (an ability that was grossly missing from the first MW, but can be found in just about every other shooter available).  The old standby’s like the M4 and Kalashnikov are present, but sniper rifles with attached thermal imaging scopes to old clunky side-by-side shotguns are at the player’s disposal as well.

The storyline is a lot darker and slightly more convoluted as well.  Early on, like in all “Call of Duty” games (the Modern Warfare titles still apply, even though the COD has been largely dropped) you’re introduced to your playable character, and brought to a shoot house, or tactical assault mock-up, where pop-up targets present themselves for engagement.  Your sure-footedness in this section will allow the game CPU to suggest a level in which to start the campaign.

An interesting twist that Infinity Ward brings with the latest chapter of Modern Warfare is the addition of civilians.  In previous shooters the player is encouraged to shoot at just about anything that moves with little in the way of consequence.  Hell, hit one of your own guys and he stumbles, but picks himself up and carries on with the mission.  Maybe says something smart about your aim (or lack there of), or in the very least identifies himself as a friendly.

But no more, as I found out after laying down an entire magazine of digitized 5.56mm from my tricked out M4 in the shoot house; in the earliest of stages of the game you can fail by blasting a steel cut out of a little booger-picker holding an ice cream cone.  This game-play element introduces us more hardened virtual trigger pullers to the real-life aspect of Rules of Engagement.

But in the actual mission game-play of the campaign, whacking a civilian has little to do with you failing.  I mean, don’t go targeting them, but if one or two civvies get in the way, well… didn’t they know there was a gun fight outside?

One of the more disturbing and darkest parts of the game happens earlier on as well.  As a member of Task Force 141, you infiltrate an underground Russian crime ring and stage a massacre at a local Russian airport.  Infinity Ward gives you the option of skipping out of this early mission with a disclaimer that says something to the effect of “hey, this is going to get real nasty” but I wonder who among us is going to skip?  And doesn’t that disclaimer only entice the gamer into seeing what all the fuss is all about anyway?

I consider myself to be an avid gamer where nothing really upsets me as long as it’s pixilated- many  video game hookers from Liberty City  have fallen to my sociopathic tendencies.  However, selecting the “play thru” option and being forced to march ankle deep through politically-inspired civilian carnage blackened my soul.  You have the option of not firing a single round into the crowds of people scurrying for their lives, but just to watch the event unfold made me want to put the controller down and walk away for a bit.

Parents with kids who have, up until this point managed to convince you that Rated ‘M’ games are ok for them to play after school, be cautioned.

The question that seems to get asked more and more frequently regarding violent video games is “how far can they go, and are they willing to go that far?”  I’d hope to think that Infinity Ward has reached the wall.

But it is all just fantasy, as are the missions with the Army Rangers that center on the aforementioned attack on DC.  The intensity of the house-to-house fighting was truly the most thrilling game-play experience I’ve had in a long while.  As implausible as an attack launched by the Federated States of Russia seems, the plot device does ring of certain truisms; stolen technological hardware allows the Russians to jam our NORAD satellites and cloak their advance towards our seaboards.

But then there’s a fair share of military fantasy as well:  Super Secret Special Forces globetrotting in denim jeans and load-bearing vests, shooting their way through civilian-lined neighborhoods.

The game is challenging and goes beyond the mindless trigger pulling.  Whole missions hinge sometimes on just one shot, while others are a frantic and deadly cat-and-mouse chase over shantytown roof tops as a militia of Brazilian Irregulars advance on you – and you’re unarmed.

Unfortunately we don’t have an Xbox Live account here at the office, so I can’t personally comment on the online play.  When I interviewed a few co-workers who have already purchased and played the game online, the general consensus orbited between ‘dope’ and ‘fucking awesome.’

While “Modern Warfare 2” doesn’t break any new grounds visually, it’s an inspired and above average offering for a genre that’s easy to write off as spent.  What MW2 manages to do is up the ante for shooters further, at the same time toeing the line of what is considered acceptable for battle-hardened gamers (and good taste), while featuring content that goes well above and beyond my long awaited expectations.

November 14, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Blogging Couple, Getting Older, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , | 1 Comment

Dude, Take a Hint…

“A male hawk will defend his nest from any attacker,” -From a show on Animal Planet.

The above statement is true, that male hawks, eagles, most other birds of prey, will defend their nest from attackers, those brave enough to scale 300 ft up a shear cliff face to even attempt to fuck with a falconry in the first place.

I’d like to think that (most) married men are no different than these birds.

I want to start this article and state clearly that I’m by no means critical of my wife’s decision making skills. We all make errors in judgment from time to time, and what defines us is how we “unfuck” ourselves, an old boss of mine once told me.

That being said, my wife seems to attract weirdos as if the circus just pulled into town.

In a previously unpublished article from a few months back I had to get up close and personal with one of these guys; and they’re always guys, because my wife hates other women and never hangs out with them.  But this one guy was harassing the shit out of Ang for a long while, a week or better, about some radar detector he pretty much forced her to hold on to while he took off for a vacation.  The harassment was so thick that in one day he sent her five messages on Facebook, which prompted this discussion:

“I think I’ll go talk to him,” I said as I sat at my desk, upon hearing the report that this guy wasn’t getting the fucking clue from my wife to stop contacting her all day.  We were in the middle of a move (somewhat like we are now, again) and she didn’t have the time to dig through all the packed boxes to find the stupid radar detector, yet it was this other guy’s number one priority.

These guys that my wife inexplicably makes friends with are all older, like 40-something, and super-clingy.  My guess, if I were to venture one, would be that since they’re unmarried, lonely souls who spend their days hanging around coffee shops, they tend to create very strong personal bonds with the people they meet.  And the friendlier that person is, the tighter they seem to cling.

What compounds the situation is that my wife can be very friendly and sociable.  She loves to text and Facebook, Tweets, etc.  By being so open, she allows these Stage 5 Clingers to latch on even stronger, to the point where they start to cross some serious boundaries.

Regarding the guy and the radar detector, I ended up having to go down to the coffee shop, radar detector in hand (we dug it out) and tell him straight up to leave my wife alone.  She’s a married woman, there’s no reason for her to take any harassment from any other man but me, and even then that’s on rare occasions.  The guy got the picture and we haven’t seen him since.

But here we go again:  Boundaries people, respect them.

I won’t go into names, because I have no idea who reads my articles anymore, but know there’s this guy and he’s crossing more protected boarders than a Mexican National who knows how to hang drywall.  He’s constantly texting Ang, always wanting to hang out, and is very clingy to my wife, something that I’ve never been comfortable with ever since I met this guy.

How these two met, I have no idea, probably at the same coffee shop that all this drama seems to take place at.  Again, he’s older and lonely.  What sets him apart though, is the little bits of affection he sprinkles on my wife.  He calls her ‘babe’ (something that not even I’m allowed to do, as Ang hates that particular term of endearment), apparently tells her he loves her (but only in the brother-sister-kinda-way, whatever), etc.

A clear indicator that he’s shown this behavior before is that he’s a Gift Giver.  Gift Givers are people who want to create strong bonds with people, especially people they want to win the approval of (ie a husband), through the act of giving gifts.  When I first met this guy, I off-handedly mentioned that I was looking for a cheap bicycle to start getting into road riding.  Within 48 hours, he was dropping off a vintage road bike at my front door.  Weird.

I was uncomfortable accepting the gift, but since he was dropping it off somewhat unexpectedly (at the time I had JUST gotten home and was making a sandwich when he texted me that he was ‘down the street’) I didn’t want to be rude.  The bike has been sitting in our breezeway since, and I get a little sketched out every time I walk past it.

***

I’ve had a problem with this guy since day one, because as any man who knows the collective Mind of Men, we know that man and woman can never be “just friends.”

Women strictly believe the opposite for some reason, but let me assure you ladies, you can’t.  There’s no fucking way.  Why?  Because men are only “friends” with women “because they haven’t fucked them yet (Chris Rock)”.

For a moment ladies, think about the guys you know as “friends.”  Are they affectionate towards you in some way?  Does there always seem to be some sort of strange sexual tension when you two are alone?  Do you feel his eyes on you when you have your back to him?  And let’s say you’ve slept with one of your guy “friends” does he still hang out with you after the fact?

My guess: probably not.

No, men hang around with women in order to fuck them, simple as that.  It’s hardwired in a man’s DNA to go run around and get as many things pregnant as possible.  This was due to the fact that millions of years ago, Man was no more than a tool-making monkey who in order to survive, needed numbers.  And what better recruitment campaign can there be but fucking your way to a stronger army?

Some of this rationale can also explain the behavior of NBA players.

Regardless, ladies, men are not really your friends.  I’m sorry, but we’re not.  Not until we actually marry one of you that is, which is the biggest sign of friendship there can possibly be: we can tolerate you enough to spend the rest of our lives with you.

***

For the last few weeks I have been trying to get this message across to Ang without sounding like an overprotective dick, which is a fine line to walk.  I’m gone half the week due to my job, so Ang has a lot of alone time (see also: Why We Have So Many Damn Pets), and she often complains that she doesn’t have any real human interaction while I’m gone.  Given this, I’m not about to tell her who she can and can’t pal around with, and what she can and can’t go and do.  She has it hard enough as it is.

She’s also a grown-ass woman.  I would expect her to make decisions befitting as such.  Unfortunately these decisions take a while to be made or require some over-the-line occurrence as a catalyst.

Such an occurrence happened the other day, when this guy and Ang made plans to go to an iron pour, where they take hot molten iron and… pour it on shit to watch it melt.  Ang was stoked to go, and called up another guy friend of hers from her childhood to see if he wanted to come along as well – he lives in the neighborhood where this is going down and like any self respecting man, he readily accepted an invitation to go watch molten iron melt shit.  When that first guy caught wind of this however, he was less than pleased.

Ang asked him straight up if he had a problem with the childhood friend coming along, citing that she believed it was a “group thing.”  Straight up, the guy told her it was a problem, and to paraphrase, said something to the effect of:

“Yeah, I think it’s fucked up that I invite you out someplace, to spend time with you, and you invite some other guy?”

Yo, what the fuck?  To me that sounds like clingy jealously, insecurity, and panic all rolled up into one snippy statement.  So you’re telling me that by my wife inviting a friend she in effect ruined ya’lls date?

Are you trying to fucking date my wife?  Really?

Ang texts me saying that “____ is acting creepy,” to which I think to myself, but don’t respond with, “no shit”.  She tells me about the exchange to which I start to seethe.  I had let this guy toe the boarder of being “slightly eccentric/possibly gay male friend” and “full-on stalker” for too long.  But what do I tell my wife?  I can’t just be like “I don’t want you talking to this guy” because women tend to do the opposite of what they’re told, especially by male authority figures, such as fathers, husbands, serious boyfriends, and if you’ve watched COPS: Mardi Gras Edition, police officers.

So I leave it up to her, but I put some heavily influenced spin on it.  “I think you should put him on time out for a while,” I suggest, followed by “I think I want a word with him.”

Ang complains that I’m going to give the same message job I gave the first guy regarding his radar detector, which I’m not above doing.  She wants to take a non-confrontational approach wherein she just ignores the problem until it goes away.

But problems such as this can’t be ignored.  Think of every crazily-obsessed-stalkerish person you’ve ever encountered personally or in the media and you know they refuse to be ignored.  Something about trying to ignore these types of people tends to bolster their behavior.  “Why are they ignoring me?!” they think to themselves, or say aloud to the voices in their head.

When Ang tried to ignore the Radar Guy, the volume of messages he was sending her jumped exponentially, to the point where I was pretty much forced to intervene.  When John Hinkley, Jr’s letters to Jodi Foster went unanswered, he figured he’d earn her love and attention by putting a few holes in Ronald Regan.  When David Letterman’s stalker had been kicked off his property for the umpteenth time, she knelt down in front of a fucking train.  Paula Abdul’s stalker killed herself in her car just a block down from where the alcoholic karaoke judge lives.

You can’t ignore these people because it pushes them to fanaticism.  You have to tell them directly what lines they’ve crossed and how you feel about that.  They need closure in the relationship via confrontation and task direction.

Example:  “I don’t want to hang out with you anymore, because as a married man, you make me feel very uncomfortable with what you do and say.  Example, I don’t like how you touch my chest, it indicates to me that you think we’re more than friends, which we are not.”

I told Ang that I’d let her QB this, as long as she was uncharacteristically confrontational and direct with this guy.  I also gave her an out, telling her that if she didn’t think she could do that, I’d be happy to tell this guy to back off, which I think I should do anyway because I’m a good husband, and I take my queues from a fucking hawk.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, People I Hate, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Honeymoon

You can see pics from the trip here – ed.
There’s something special about returning to work after taking time off, especially if that time off was regarding your honeymoon.  You feel so blissfully out of touch it’s amazing to find your desk as you left it, belongings mostly intact.  This all seems to soften the blow that your tub of fat-free yogurt has gone missing altogether.

That said, the time spent on your honeymoon is magical; everything seems to go right even when it’s terribly wrong, like getting lost in Upstate NY.

We weren’t really lost; the plan was to drive off the highway for a bit, see some of the “real” countryside of upstate, the side you don’t see on Rt 90 on your way to Buffalo, of all places.

I had been scanning the New York Times’ Real Estate section and observed that homes in the Saratoga Springs area were going for between 175-200K.  Good homes with two stories, a yard, maybe even a pool.  Perfect, I thought, just what we were looking for.

But Corinth, the small hamlet where we ended up, is New York State’s scraped elbow.  There’s nothing but mountains, trees, dirty depressing dilapidated store fronts, a gas station every ten feet, kitty-cornered from one another, each seemed to be manned by the same grimy-faced local who knew, instantly, that you were from out of town.

Such a local, a waitress in some sort of strange service station/diner, a face that looked beaten with a sun-heated shovel pointed her gnarled nicotine stained finger nail at the ATM in the far corner of the establishment when I asked as to where one could be found.

“You always miss it,” she hissed, as if to indicate that she knew I was from out of town, and I represented every wayward traveler to ever cross the town line.

And of course, it was easy enough to tell we, my wife and I, hadn’t graduated from the Corinth Regional High School.  Although dressed like slobs, our clothes didn’t reek of diesel fuel.  We were driving around in a whisper quiet Toyota Prius, paying more attention to our iPhones than the surroundings of the small dent in the Earth that was Corinth.

Remember in “Back to the Future” when Marty first arrives in the 50s and the locals think he’s an alien?  He has this crazy looking car with gull wings for doors, in a biohazard suit, etc.  The local hick farmer nearly cut him in two with a shotgun blast for crashing into his barn, but was too petrified to pull the triggers.

That’s what it was like for us, driving around Corinth with out of state plates in a car that made no noise.

We had enough “small town charm”, not bothering to stop at the Dollar General (we did eat in the one restaurant in town that didn’t look like someone’s wind-smashed porch.  A Chinese food place called Golden Dragon, or Double Gold, or Lucky Dragon… I think it’s a rule that Chinese restaurants have to have either “dragon” “gold” or “lucky” in their names in our order get a business license.) before high tailing it the hell out of Dodge.

***

Niagara was beautiful however, a trip that I will never forget, thanks to technology.  We arrived late, after putting in 12 hours on the road between Portland, ME and Niagara Falls.

We left later than what I wanted to, due to a slower start, but at the time it seemed the all engines were firing just fine.  But with a stop at the Tim Hortons before even leaving my mom’s home town – which sucked up about half an hour – we were in rough shape.

We pulled into the tiny B&B around 1930 and were greeted at the door by a charmingly cheerful owner, a young woman whom I had no idea would be old enough to have mothered a kindergartener.  She had our room squared away, a tiny “French Room” at the top of a set of grand stairs, with a private bath and tiny television.

Ang instantly took to the shower, as 12 hours on the road will make you believe that God himself demands you bathe.  As for me, I asked to be pointed towards the nearest liquor store.
Cassidy, the matron, busted out a touristy map and with a black pen started to scribble out a route by foot towards the nearest liquor store.

“You want to avoid this area, entirely,” she squared off a section of about twelve blocks due north of where we were.  “It’s a HUGE ghetto.”

But that’s who I am, a shit magnet, that despite my best efforts, would haphazardly wind up waist deep in … dark… waters.

I followed the instructions to what I thought was a “T”.  Taking a left where I was supposed to, staying on a street, etc.  I found myself looking at a dimly lit convenience store, a ratty Caddy idling with a rhythmic clank and rattle.

I rubbed my stubble and wandered in.  Inside I found what you’d find in any inner city general store:  non-descript bags of neon-colored popcorn, 24-count cases of Natural Ice, on sale.  Nylon doo-rags in cellophane packets dangling from a spinning wire rack , non-NFL sanctioned Buffalo Bills memorabilia, 40 oz bottles of some brackish-colored alcohol stacked at the end of one of the aisles (the brand escapes me, but it wasn’t one of the ‘hood classics’ like Cobra, Colt .45, or Steel Reserve), scratch tickets, festering hotdogs on rollers, and black people shouting at each other.

I went in looking for, of all things, wine, a loofah, and tampons.  Maybe a snack for myself, since it was likely we weren’t going to be having dinner.  I left with nothing but fear that at any moment I was going to become a tragic victim of urban violence.  A sad state of affairs, when a young promising male, successful in his own right, was gunned down at a convenience store  outside of Buffalo, NY.  Another tale of “wrong place, wrong time.”

I can see the befuddled detectives standing over my splayed out corpse, bullet wounds in my back leading towards a growing puddle of blood:

“What the hell was this guy doing here, anyway?”  One says to the other, as he flick’s my out-of-state driver’s license.

“Fuck if I know, probably trying to score drugs,”

***

We did the whole sight-seeing bit, which given the time of year, wasn’t a whole lot.  We were only really up there for one full day sandwiched by two days of traveling.

The weather was some-what cooperative; to ask for warmth so late through October would’ve been asking for too much.  But at least it didn’t rain, which would’ve been too much for either of us to stand.

We did the falls, got wet, then went shopping at the outlets, which seemed to be the best option going, as the mall was crowded.

That night, we went to the Casino.

Admittedly, the last time I was in a casino I was 21 or 22, a raging alcoholic who often surrounded himself with hooligans equally intoxicated.  The last time I was in a casino, we were asked to leave by security.

What had happened was innocent enough:  We had been gambling, I think, and decided we wanted to go to the fancy buffet on whatever floor above the betting floor.  We, the three or four of us, clambered into a glass elevator and rode upwards.

At some point, this kid named Anthony, or Michael, or Patrick, … some Irish fuckhead, decided to pull down his cargo shorts and press his ass cheeks against the glass.

Security met us at the elevator just as the doors opened to let us out.

Now, some five or six years later, I was going into a casino with my wife on my arm, wearing half a suit I bought off the rack at H&M before we left for the vacation.

The suit was all black, complete with vest.  I wanted to wear the whole thing, but Ang protested, saying I’d be way over dressed.  I relented and opted to wear designer blue jeans with the jacket and vest.

Walking on to the betting floor was a lot like what I imagine walking on to a kill floor of a slaughter house circa 1890.  It’s disgusting; cigarette smoke hangs in the air just above the dizzying lights and sounds of all the machines.  Mummified remains of happy grandparents sit in front of computerized screens, punching buttons in some sort of twisted scientific experiment.

“How long can we keep these withered bodies here, pressing the same button over and over again, using the Reward System?”

Some were so addicted that they had some sort of punch card attached to a lanyard plugged into the machine.  If we could somehow harness the power from five hundred elderly people mashing buttons for 12 hours at a whack, we’d have solved the energy crisis.

I’m not a gambler, I make terrible bets and even worse decisions when I’m faced with a choice in my betting.  All one has to do is watch me agonize over my fantasy football picks every week to get a clear idea on how I’d make a terrible gambler.

We made a round of the floor, went to the bar, and each got a beer.  I sipped my beer and decided that I was going to play blackjack.  I had 50 dollars in my pocket to use towards that end, and I made up my mind that I would not walk out with less than that amount, so help me god.  I found a lonely dealer at a blackjack table and sat down.

The dealer and I chatted for a bit as I played, and before I knew it, I was up by about 100 dollars from my initial 20 dollar investment.  The pressure suddenly got too high, or maybe it was boredom at how easily I was making money.  I even hit on 16 and drew a five, much to the dealer’s amazement.  I knew nothing of player/dealer etiquette, and failed to tip as I got up from the table.  He changed my chips from stacks of fives to a few stacks of tens.

It was then, holding the tens in my hands, I could see the addiction welling up.  If I bet just one of these chips, worth 10 dollars, I could potentially double it, and then double that amount, and so on.  I could FEEL the gravity of the table; a pull on my spine no short of someone actually reaching in and tugging on my bones.

I finished my beer and found Ang back at the bar, checking her phone.

“How’d you do?”  She asked.  I shrug.

“Well, I have fewer chips,” and I opened up my hand to show that I indeed had fewer chips, but they were worth a lot more than what I started.  She was pleased, especially when I said I was going to cash out and we were getting the hell out of there.

The entire time, walking across the floor to the cashier, I felt eyes on me.  Maybe it was how I was dressed (“what’re you so dressed up for?” the dealer would ask.  “I’m on my honeymoon,” I told him.  “Huh, where are you from?”  “Cape Cod.”  “…You came out to Niagara Falls and you’re from Cape Cod… on your honeymoon?  What, you don’t like palm trees?”) or maybe it was that I was walking out with the casino’s money.

I was for certain that in order to cash out I’d be required to fill out a mailing slip so they could send me promotions, or invite me back, etc.  But no, they simply took my chips, counted them out, and handed me back the appropriate amount of money back, hassle free.

We left, the feeling of a thousand eyes on my neck following me out of the casino.
***

We were on the road early the next morning to get back to reality.  The sky was gray, the air cold and uninviting, almost telling us that we were doomed.  Fourteen hours we arrived at our apartment with two ferrets and a load of bags that needed to be hauled up a flight of rickety stairs.  The dog was picked up shortly after from a friend on a rain soaked night that welcomed us home like the chilling embrace of a bear trap.

October 21, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Getting Older, Gonzo Journalism, Out and About, People I Love, Shameless Self Promotion | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Turned Out The Lights?

Sorry, been away on my Honeymoon.  More on that later.

In the meantime, why don’t you feast your eyes on these throwaway articles?  Two were instructional lists for the people watching our pets, and the third was a “back and forth” between me and my wife via work email.  So shut up and enjoy.

The first went to my mom, who watched our two ferrets:

I’ll be providing you with a hardcopy of this when we arrive next Monday.  Ang may have some additions to this as well by then.

J.

Special Instructions for The Fabulous Mr. Oakley and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot:

1.      The ferrets are smarter than you.
2.      Never forget Rule Number 1.

3.      All kidding aside, these two are a handful.
4.      Ferrets tend to sleep about 15 hours a day, so letting them stay in their cage while you’re at work or cooking dinner is fine.  Letting them out for two hours or so in the evening is good to stretch their legs and burn off some of that pent up energy.
5.      You don’t have to watch them like a hawk, however make sure there’s no “ferret escape routes” in their play area.  Ang and I will largely take care of this Monday, but just keep an eye out for any small holes or areas they can get behind.
6.      Ferrets are curious and lack a sense of “home.”  This means that they can and will wander away and never come back, which will result in their deaths due to starvation, exposure or being killed by another animal.  DO NOT LET THEM OUTSIDE AT ANY COST.
7.      Ferrets tend to shit where ever they please.  Sorry.  They tend to like corners of rooms, or in hard to reach areas.  If you see them pooping (they’ll scootch their hindquarters towards the corner) wait til they finish and pick up the mess with a paper towel.  We’ll leave you some order-killing spray.
8.      Utilize the baby gates.
9.      Like a cat their food only needs to be refreshed once a day.  I like to give them fresh food first thing in the morning.  Two thirds of a dish of dry food will get them through the day, with a full bowl of water.  Check these levels when you get home, don’t worry about changing anything out unless you can see the bottoms of any dish.
10.     You shouldn’t have to touch the litter while we’re gone, however if the aroma becomes overwhelming, you can replace it with the material we brought.
11.     Don’t be alarmed if Oakley (the big dumb white one) chases and appears to beat the crap out of Whiskey (the small dark colored panicked-looking one).  This is normal; they’re just playing.  Oakley often “scruffs” Whiskey by the neck and drags her around.  If it looks excessively violent or goes on for longer than 20 minutes pick Oakley up and cage him for twenty minutes before caging Whiskey.
12.     The “kids” will let you know when they want to come out by scratching at or shaking the cage.  You can ignore them if it’s inconvenient to let them out, they’ll give up after ten minutes or so if you don’t let them out.
13.     Ferrets are susceptible to heat.  Keeping them low to the ground is good, as heat rises.  Try not to place their cage near any baseboard heaters.  Use common sense.
14.     If you’re expecting company, cage them.  They will bolt for an opening door.  I repeat THEY WILL BOLT FOR AN OPENING DOOR.
15.     Ferrets have a tendency to get really excited and playful.  This is exhibited in a “war dance” where they may leap at you or cling to your leg.  Don’t be alarmed, they’re not attacking you.  Feel free to engage with them as you would a playful kitten or puppy.  Believe me, of the two, Oakley can take some punishment.
16.     That said, Whiskey tends to get underfoot a lot.  Just keep an eye out for her if you’re walking around and they’re out.
17.     Ferrets climb and jump from stupid heights.  Try to discourage this, but if it happens just check and look for obvious signs of injuries.  I’ve personally seen Oakley and Whiskey both drop from heights five feet or more and shrug off the impact of the fall.
18.     Don’t feed them anything except their own food.  Ferrets have very delicate digestive systems, and usually will turn their noses up at anything they don’t recognize as their own food.
19.     Ferrets, like most rodents, can’t regurgitate anything they eat.  It’s a one way street.  Don’t let them eat anything that could cause a blockage.  Keep small soft items out of their reach, like plastic bags, anything chewy, etc.
20.     Occasionally they’ll sneeze.  This is normal, however if it becomes excessive (like an all night thing or any sneezes in a row, ten or more) call us.
21.     If a ferret goes missing on you, jingle the little ball on the string (this will usually bring Oakley around) or start looking in dark cool places they could conceivably get into, like low cupboards, the drawer under your stove, under beds or in closets, under or in furniture like arm chairs or couches, etc.  Ferrets love to nest, so any place you keep soft clothes items will be likely hiding spots, to find them, sometimes you have to think like a ferret and get on their level.  This means physically as well as mentally.
22.     Ferrets are also filthy fucking thieves.  They have the ability to pick up your scent on your small personal items (keys, wallets, cell phones).  By the strength of the scent they can determine how important the item is to you (car keys should have a stronger scent on them than say, some mail you just got) and if they’re pissed at you, they’ll hide one of these “strong scent” items on you, making your life miserable as you try to track down keys or a wallet before heading out the door to work.  Keep small personal items out of their reach in a separate blocked off room.
23.     Usually after about an hour or 90 minutes they’ll tucker out and find someplace to nap.  Simply pick them up in their little coil and place them in their bed.  They should conk right out.

This second one went to a work friend of mine who watched our dog, Ivy.

Jesse,

Here are the instructions for Ivy.  I’ll provide you with an updated hardcopy when we drop her off with you next Monday morning.

Thanks again.

J.

Special Instructions for Ivy Lemonsquares League.

1.      Ivy sheds.  A LOT.
2.      Really, she sheds, no joke.
3.      Ivy loves attention and the more you lavish on her, the more she’ll be a happy puppy.  She loves butt scratches or scratches behind the ears.  Baby-talk to her at the same time, let her know she’s a good doggy.
4.      That being said, being that she was abandoned and rescued from a pound, she tends to get “clingy.”  If left alone for any amount of time (even going to the bathroom with the door closed) will cause her to panic.  This is fine.
5.      When you do reenter the room where Ivy’s waiting, expect to be greeted in some worried manner.  She’ll grunt, maybe even bark if she’s a little upset, just pet her and talk to her in a soothing tone til she calms down a little.  Pet her for a moment and then go about your business.
6.      If Ivy gets too clingy, gently push her away and say “go lay down” with a little authority in your voice.  You might have to do this two or three times til she gets the picture, but she’ll eventually fall in line and leave you alone.
7.      Like any dog, Ivy loves treats.  Be sparse with these and always make her sit before giving her anything.  You can make Ivy sit by raising your right hand and pointing to the ceiling while saying “sit.”  She should follow the command, but if she doesn’t, just repeat.  She might wiggle her butt and gingerly sit down and immediately get back up on all fours.  If she does this, keep saying “sit” in the position indicated until she abides.
8.      Ivy is house broken and she’s pretty good about letting you know when she needs a walkie.  If she needs to go she’ll usually linger by the door or do tight circles around the room.
9.      Ivy requires a minimum of at least a ten minute walk three times a day, plus some fetch time.
10.     If you’re just getting home from being gone for more than two hours, take her for a quick walk; this will limit her grunting/barking as well.  Just show her the leash and she’ll calm down a little.
11.     Ivy gets three meals a day, breakfast is usually around 6, lunch is around noon time, and dinner is at 6pm.
12.     Breakfast will consist of one and a half scoops of dry food, lunch is one scoop, dinner is one and a half scoops again.
13.     Ivy will usually sleep through the night if you walk her just before you go to bed.
14.     If you’re going to be gone for a bit where it’ll become night time, leave a light on for her, as well as the television set.  She likes Food Network, CNBC, or The Discovery Channel.  The ‘tools’ of Tool Academy make her itch.
15.     If playing fetch outdoors, Ivy will play ‘keep-away’ with you once she’s recovered the object.  She’ll give it up as soon as you get a firm hold on it.  Her teeth are a little delicate so don’t expect any tug of war.
16.     Ivy tends to poop twice a day and she will usually do this out of the way of a common walking path-area.  You’ll know she has caught the right “scent” because she’ll tug on the leash and pull you along.  Just go with her unless she’s taking you someplace hazardous.  If such is the case, give her a gentle but firm tug on the leash and say her name.  She’ll come.
17.     When she’s done pooping she’ll usually shake.
18.     Her rapid breathing is normal.
19.     If you don’t want her climbing up on anything, like couches, beds, put some chairs or anything else, boxes, etc on the furniture to prevent her from laying on top of it.
20.     If she’s to be left alone for any amount of time, make sure that there’s no escape routes that could be accessed.  Open windows, doors, etc.

And last  but not least, Signs Your Aging.  Ang’s submissions are in red.

Explosions you want to see in film:  Between wife and husband, usually involving infidelity.

Explosions you no longer care to see on film:  Houses, cars, buildings (too loud!)

You untie ties, oppose to slipping the knot over your head

When touching something particularly nasty, instead of wiping your hands on your pants, you look around plaintively with spread fingers
for a napkin.

You make your bed.

You enjoy boring, quiet Sunday afternoons.

You’d absolutely love it if nap time was still in effect for the
afternoons.

The neighborhood bully apparently became your boss at some point.

Instead of defying gravity you are subjected to it

McDonalds is not a happy place

Cholesterol and Blood Pressure are the conversation norm

When you see someone driving erratically you think they are either
drunk, half your age, or double it


The phrase “when I was your age” comes out more often than you like

You and your friends have email address with your actual names in it, oppose to something like “twistd_fairy111” or “Dark_andBroodingXXX”

You catch yourself getting dumber; you forget state capitals, dividing fractions, etc, anything you learned while in grade school.

Television commercials for fiber and pepto bismol appeal to you

You shop for car insurance

You can’t function without coffee

Two beers = hangover.

A late night ends at 11pm

You actually contemplate which is more desirable:  Sex or Sleep.

You gain in-laws, you find yourself in conversations that contain
“Oh, my mother-in-law…”

You dress in clothing that fits properly to your body type.  You feel foolish wearing anything excessively baggy.

You flip when gas goes up 5 cents on the gallon

You think that 200k is in your price range for a house and 10k isn’t a lot of money

You turn your nose up at houses with out enough counter space

You know what a sciatic nerve is and you hate it

Sex is a thing of the past

You sound like your mother more and more each day

You buy a mattress

You floss

You get excited about a close-enough parking spot

You find yourself attending a mandatory company retirement party, and you’re not a caterer, waiter, or delivery person

You know how to play pinochle

Stores in the mall that play music really loud are off putting and you don’t understand how they stay in business

You’re wary at the sight of a small group of teenagers mingling in public, thinking to yourself “they must be up to no good…”

You change light bulbs

Saturday mornings consist of The Weather Channel, grocery shopping and laundry, oppose to cartoons, cereal until noon, and sitting around in the clothes you went to bed in.

“Going outside to play” is more often than not spoken to the dog, rather than a declaration of your own afternoon activities.

You get excited about low APR

You know what APR stands for

You become a Nazi about heat and lights

You love sales

You understand why teenagers act the way they do

You have no idea what language they speak

Sleeping in until 9 may as well be the aurora borealis

October 16, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Getting Older | | Leave a comment

The Collapse

My unrealized greatest fear of humanity’s demise came to me while I was sitting on the toilet, taking a shit and reading this past month’s Esquire.

I don’t recall the article, but it basically suggested that the End of The World, The Apocalypse, etc, wouldn’t be in the form of a giant fast-moving meteor falling from the heavens like the fist of God to smite us, or the eventual albeit inevitable collapsing of our own life-giving star, but rather a slow a monotonous plod towards cultural and intellectual rock bottom.

As I squeezed my anal muscles, I accepted this fate for mankind as its likeliest.

Even the satirical online newspaper The Onion ran a recent article about the Nadir of Human Civ, citing that since the Renaissance – humanity’s climax according to the piece – we’ve been on a steady downgrade since, culminating last Friday afternoon when apparently some tourist in Chicago mistook the MOCA as a shopping mall.

And what song is the piper piping that’s leading us all down the path to collective boorishness?  Texting.distracted-driving-texting

More and more I’m hearing stories of people literally killing themselves over typing out short messages on  a tiny keyboard while driving.  Hell, I was listening to a program this morning on my way to work that discussed the topic of Teens Texting While Driving that reported that in a recent AAA survey, some 54% of teens state that their biggest distraction while behind the wheel was …. Wait for it….

Driving.

What’s that sound?  That strange, loud whirring sound?  …Oh, it’s Charles Fucking Darwin spinning in his grave.

But we can’t solely blame teenagers as being the only ones who text and drive, as largely anyone with a cell phone and a text messaging plan does it, yours truly included.

But the point I’m trying to make out of all of this is that culturally, collectively, we’re all slaves to tiny machines.  I, for one, will reach into my pocket every time my phone buzzes, even if it’s to glance down at one of my wife’s many texts and put my phone back on lock.  We, all of us, have been conditioned to respond immediately to stimuli such as a text, email, phone call, etc, the same way Pavlov’s dog responded to the sounds of a can opener.

Remember back when if someone was trying to reach you, and you weren’t home, people would either A) leave a message, or B) call back?  Remember what an answering machine was?  It was that bulky, crème colored box with a little tape in it, long before the days of voice mail.
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I long for the days that would allow me to be as inaccessible as possible.  One of the few joys I take out of life right now involves me running 6 miles twice a week with nothing except an iPod and digital diver’s watch attached to me.  For that 50-sum odd minutes I am truly inaccessible unless you track me down in a car, and even then you’d have to know which route I run on which days.

That was, until one of my bosses request I take my cell phone with me on my runs “just in case.”

I bristled at the idea, two fold:  One: no, because unless there’s an emergency the size and shape of 9/11, this office can get by without me for just under an hour.  I don’t need to run with my phone because I’m not about to break my stride to stop and answer incoming calls.  Secondly, I have an iPhone and I’m not about to take something that expensive strapped to my arm on a run through a town where it’s driving inhabitants seldom glance right when pulling out of a side street.

Text messaging has also gotten me into more trouble than what it’s worth with my wife.  We communicate almost completely by text when I’m at the office.  As all things text-related, emotions are rarely conveyed as genuine, and misinterpretations abound when trying to get an idea across to another.  The wrong response or the slightest hint of sarcasm in an emotionally volatile situation can spell disaster.  Yet neither one of us will simply key the phone icon and call the other.  It all has to be done with typing.

I’m also a perpetrator of texting and driving, but less so now that I own an iPhone oppose to a Blackberry.  With the Blackberry and its textile keyboard, I seldom had to actually look as I typed, similar to typing on an actual keyboard.  With the iPhone, it’s a completely different ballgame, akin to going from a major league hitter with a batting average of .350 lifetime, to playing in India’s Premiere League Cricket Tournament overnight.

The iPhone’s keypad is nearly impossible to navigate even while looking at it, lest trying to drive, keep my truck from careening into oncoming traffic, and tell my wife that yes, I’ll pick up snap peas from the grocer on the way home.  Even in Landscape Mode, where you flip the phone on it’s side and alter the appearance of the keypad to a more traditional keyboard, it’s still difficult to type what you want to say.357161915_388509248a

For the last few years I used to be warily cautious around other motorists when I would see them driving with a phone stuck to their ear, and I still am.  However now, that wariness has been replaced with adjunct terror as I see someone, anyone, clumsily mashing the buttons on their phone as it rests atop their steering wheels.

As a race of people we’re intellectually crumbling.  We’re slaves to glowing boxes, big and small.  In an age where we digitally record television programs to skip the commercials, the largest recorded show is about The Golden Age of Advertising.  We’re constantly contradicting ourselves, killing ourselves, becoming increasingly complacent on technology to the point where we drive cars that do the parallel parking for us.

Our great-grandparents knew how many feet were in a hectare of land, could tell you what time of day it was based on the position of the sun in the sky, could recite by rote the works of Shakespeare, Thoreau, or Plath.  Our great grandparents, as children, bared more responsibility on a day to day basis than we do as adults today.  Hell, half of us can’t even balance our check books.

We’re over weight and lethargic, we couldn’t tell you who the last ten presidents were, but we can rattle off every Wayans brother.  We can’t quote more than a handful of words out of the Constitution, Declaration of Independence or even the Gettysburg Address, however we know all the funny Ralph Wiggum quotes.
Ralph_Wiggum
I’m not advocating for neo-Luddites to wrestle back control from the brain-sucked hordes of mouth-breathing, Wal Mart-shopping, fast food consuming, tiny keyboard-typing masses, I’m simply trying to warn the few of you still out there that give a damn that we’re slipping down the side of the food chain, and at this rate, we’ll long be at the bottom before Earth’s Quick and Messy End comes hurtling through space like the hail of bullets that took down William McKinley.

Look it up.  In a book, not Wikipedia, asshole.

October 4, 2009 Posted by | Around The Office, Blogging Couple, Corporate America Hates You, Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , | 1 Comment

Ang’s Failed Revenge-Revenge

Karma:  It’s a bitch.

August 9, 2009 Posted by | Blogging Couple, People I Love, The Great Indoors, Too Much Time | , , | 1 Comment