Uncompromising Compromise

I’m kind of an all-or-nothing person. If there’s one piece of pie left, Id rather have it all or give the whole thing to someone else than split it. I can remember being the same way about dating. If someone didn’t want to date me, and we weren’t friends originally, I had no desire to try to be friends. I had enough friends; the last thing I wanted was to hang around someone, pining away after her.

I’m not saying compromise is bad. There are many situations in which it’s the only sensible solution, especially in big, important issues. But when it comes to the little things, compromise just tends to leave everyone feeling unsatisfied. At least if one of you gives in, the other will be satisfied. This is part of the idea of recognizing that you can’t expect to get your own way all the time.

Hello, Ween

I love Halloween. I love that it doesn’t have the cutesy feeling of other holidays. I love dressing up. I love that nobody talks about “the true spirit of Halloween.” I love that you don’t have to give and receive presents and cards, which eliminates a lot of stress. You don’t have to feel guilty if you just have a good time, or even if you do nothing at all. It’s just a holiday that’s there to be enjoyed. So go forth and find the Great Pumpkin!

Brownie Nose

So I was wondering about the origin of the term “brownie points.” It looks like it relates to the term “brown nose,” which derived from the girl-scout-type group Brownies. Apparently it used to have a more negative connotation that I think it does now.

Think about all the times you’ve done something that earned you brownie points with someone. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could somehow cash in all your points? What’s the point of earning these hypothetical points if there’s no way to redeem them? You can sometimes get a favor in return, but they seem to expire if you save them until you really need them.

So, from now on, whenever I do anything that’s worth brownie points, I’m going to ask the person how many points I get so I can keep track of them. Then I’ll create some kind of brownie points catalog so I know what I can redeem them for.

Hmm, this is starting to sound like a lot of work. If anyone wants to do that for me, it would be worth 640 points.

Your Head... Smells Like a Smoothie

Have you seen any commercials lately for hair products? They seem less like shampoo commercials and more like advertisements for Dole. The claim is that by “infusing” their products with “natural essences” it will help your hair be shiny and, presumably, ready to munch on before the main course.

Why does anybody think that your hair needs vitamins? Vitamins nourish your body when they are absorbed through your digestive system. Your hair is not alive. That’s why it doesn’t hurt when you cut it. You might as well pour milk on a skeleton, hoping it will keep the bones strong.

Frankly, I’d rather trust unpronounceable chemicals to keep my hair clean. At least they’ve been developed and tested in some lab. Let’s not shop for hair products at Jamba Juice.

Take the Plunge and Fall

There’s no doubt that fall is a beautiful season. The moon is beautiful too, but that doesn’t mean I ever want to live there. The problem with fall is that when I leave the house in the morning I have to wear a jacket and scrape the frost from my windshield. Then, at the end of the day, it’s warm enough out that my car interior could be used as a slow cooker. Since I have no desire for a daily vehicle-prepared pot roast, I find the swing in temperatures uncomfortable.

Fall is the ultimate indecisive season. It can’t decide if it’s trying to be summer or winter. Now, I don’t mind the summer lingering (sorry, Jen, but 80 degrees is still preferable to 20 degrees); the problem is the wild swing in temperatures, which a less enlightened guy might liken to female mood swings. So we might as well launch ourselves headlong into the dark, dreary winter. Let’s go, already! Get it over with—rip off that bandage in one swift motion!

Insecticide


This is a drawing of a box elder beetle. We get a lot of these beetles in the house. They don’t bite and they don’t get into our food or anything. They just walk around, looking for decaying plant matter to eat. It’s sort of like having a bunch of little pets that you don’t have to take care of. They do occasionally fly around inside (which makes my two-year-old point and say “Whoa! Bug!”), but they really don’t bother us.

This life, however, is apparently not always fulfilling enough. And so, at about 10:00 last night, one of these little critters decided to climb up into a halogen floor lamp and take his own life. The immediate result of this, aside from the poor thing’s demise, was that we wondered if our house was on fire. Let me tell you, the smell of frying insects is probably something to avoid whenever possible.

The Pace of Life

I’m a fast walker. It’s true. I admit it. It all started in junior high school when I suddenly had to make it to several different classrooms every day with only five minutes in between and oh I bumped into that guy and almost dropped my trapper-keeper!

The problem didn’t get any better in high school. Now I was in a bigger school with more students. I did become skilled at moving through a crowd (here’s where being rail-thin paid off), but I retained the fast walk. In college the distances grew even greater, and despite a longer break between classes, there was little opportunity to slow down.

So now when my wife and I go to the store, I feel compelled to get from the car to the store as fast as possible, as if I’m hurrying to a bomb shelter before the Luftwaffe arrives. Meanwhile, my wife is walking at a normal pace, probably even a little slower to avoid being seen with me.

If I go to the mall by myself, I move at least three times as fast as anybody else in the place. I know what store or stores I’m going to, so there’s no point in wasting time in transit. It’s as if everyone else is moving in slow motion.

Is this simply a case of efficiency, or is it a problem? Should I be forced to wear weights around my ankles to slow me down? I just want to be normal…

Cleanliness Is next to Impossible

I think it would be fair to say that I’m a reasonably clean person in most respects. I don’t throw my clothes on the floor, I try to do my dishes (unless there’s already a pile in the sink—then I give up and just add to it), and I do my best to keep my fingernails clean.

For some reason, though, I can never keep a desk clean. It seems so harmless to just set a paper on my desk, but before I know it, it has somehow multiplied until it looks like I cut down the Amazon just to have an excuse to use my paperweight of the Lincoln Memorial that I got when I was eight.

I wonder if we all have one or two ways in which we struggle to be clean. I’ve seen bedrooms where the color of the carpet has long ago vanished into the realm of quantum uncertainty, and nobody dares look, lest by ascertaining the color it becomes an ugly one. Some people just can’t seem to look like they’ve bathed within the last week, even fresh from the shower.

Am I right about this? What do you have trouble keeping clean or organized (and I don't want you to say "thoughts")?

Quilt While You're Ahead

In my neighborhood there’s a quilting store. In fact, there are two, across the street from each other. Every time I pass by, there are women between the ages of 40 and 70 getting into or out of cars there, meandering across the street ignoring oncoming traffic. There’s a certain “look” that all these quilting women seem to have.

At this point I should emphasize that I have no objection to the hobby of quilting. I have a few quilts and blankets made by relatives, and they can be great gifts. The thing that bothers me is that somehow I have the impression that this is what these women do with their lives. From sunup to sundown they are hunched over quilting frames, feverishly trying to outdo “that hussy down the street who doesn’t even tie the right kind of knots but gets all the attention with her flashy designs.” As I drive by it’s difficult to resist the temptation to yell something like “Why don’t you contribute something meaningful to society, instead of wasting all your time and money on quilting?!” I recognize the irrationality of this, but that’s how I feel.

Do you have any irrational issues with anger?

North of the Border

The other day I saw a flock of birds apparently flying east for the winter. This could mean any number of things. Maybe the leading bird was a bird politician and was telling the others that they were going south. Or maybe they were just on their way to pick up the last member of their group before migrating. "Get up, Leroy, or we're leaving without you!"

Another possibility is that the earth’s magnetic pole is reversing. Apparently this happens on the average about every 250,000 years, and some scientists think that it will happen soon. If so, that could mess with animals’ sense of directions. And it will make a good excuse for when men get lost. “Don’t blame me! I was just going by the earth’s magnetic field!”

Ting-a-ling?

Every morning on my way to work I see a certain car parked in a certain lot. It’s a 2006 or 2007 Mustang GT with some pretty expensive work done on it. It’s a very masculine-looking car. This morning I saw the owner, and it is a twenty-something man. The thing that doesn’t quite add up for me (and call me old-fashioned here) is that he apparently works at a flower shop.

I can understand a guy working at a flower shop. It’s a perfectly honorable job to have. But it seems to contrast with the typical image of the guy who has the souped-up sports car.

Maybe the car is compensation.

Hello! My Name Is Bingo!

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not a big fan of current naming trends of children. Here are some rules I have come up with that will help children avoid intense ridicule at school.

No mixing names. If the parents’ names are Linda and Bob, don’t name your child Binda, Lindbob, or Boblinda. It's not nearly as clever as it seems.

No words that might have a meaning in other context. This is not so much because they’re all bad (April is a perfectly good name), but I know I’d be confused if I kept hearing my name constantly for one month out of the year. Maybe it’s just me, but imagine if your name were Computer. You’d hear it all the time, and you’d probably be driven to a murderous rage.

Be careful about spelling. Take Brian Regan’s advice and spell your girl’s name Amy instead of Aymie. Think of how many times throughout her life she’ll have to have that spelling corrected. The originality isn’t worth the inconvenience. Let your child distinguish herself by her actions instead of her name.

I know you don’t want your child to have the same name as four other children in his class, but that’s not sufficient justification to name him Methylchloroisothiazolinone. That’s not a name; that’s a shampoo ingredient.

You might want to steer clear of names that are traditional of an ethnicity other than your own. A white boy named Sione might be beaten up by Polynesian boys, which is probably something to avoid.

Remember that your child will one day grow up. She might be embarrassed to run around as a high-powered executive if her name is Binky Boo.

The point of this advice is to actually consider your child’s feelings, but you're just going to ignore it. That's it; I wash my hands of all of you.

Somebody Take Photoshop Away

Here's another product of my diseased imagination.


I Canna Do It!

It’s very romantic to dream about nothing being impossible. While that may be true, in the sense that, logically, nothing can be proven to be mathematically impossible (so I guess only impossibility is impossible… but then it’s not… but then it is…I think I just broke my brain), there are some things which have such an infinitesimally small probability that we could pretty much say they are impossible. Here are a few things that I consider impossible:

Getting a toothpaste stain out of a tie.

Microsoft Word actually formatting a document the way you want

Looking as attractive or as unattractive as you think you look

Ordering a pizza that will satisfy everyone’s tastes (The difficulty increases exponentially with each person involved.)

Finding good-tasting food that’s nutritious (If you claim that you enjoy bran muffins and Brussels sprouts, you’re either deluding yourself or you’re adding unhealthy things to make them palatable.)

So what do you think is impossible?

There's the truth.... and THE TRUTH!

This morning I got to wondering what it would be like if everyone in the world suddenly became completely honest in every way. I imagine that international issues would be resolved more easily.

U.N. Nuclear Inspector: “So, where are your materials for making nuclear weapons?”

Kim Jong Il: “Right through here. Watch your step—the doorway is a bit low. Oh, and we put poison in your water. You’ve probably got 5 or 6 minutes to live.”

Politics would be a little more straightforward:

"Vote for me! I promise to forget all of you the moment I’m elected and dedicate myself to indulging in every kind of personal excess. Oh, and by the way, I inhaled and I liked it!”

Advertising would sure be interesting:

"Buy Superslim Pills! They don't work, but we've got families to feed!"

It’s on the level of personal relationships that we would truly suffer (I’m sure you could see this coming):

“Honey, does this make me look fat?”

“It sure does. But it’s certainly better than what you usually wear.”

As you can see, we would all have to learn to take criticism and be more humble in general. Otherwise, we would probably be reduced to communicating with electronic devices instead of people.

Wait a second…

Take It Like a Man

There’s a part in the movie Night at the Museum which I particularly enjoy. Ben Stiller’s character is about to have his head rammed with a model train, which he really doesn’t want to happen. Owen Wilson’s character says something to the effect of “Quit whining, and take it like a man!”

As silly as this may seem, I think it’s good advice to apply to life in general. We are so obsessed with making people pay for mistakes that we are becoming less and less willing to “just deal with it.” For example, if I order a meal in a restaurant and don’t like it, it’s not necessarily the restaurant’s fault. It’s my fault for ordering the Grilled Dog Poo in the first place (thanks, Johnny).

We need to accept that sometimes things just won’t go our way. Occasionally we purchase an article of clothing that falls apart within a few weeks, or a gallon of milk that’s sour. These things happen. Take it like a man.

I’m not saying we should never ask others to take responsibility for their actions. I got my car back from the shop, and I think they accidentally broke something while they had it. You better believe I’m going to try to get them to fix it for free. But if my package of Girl Scout cookies is short one tagalong, I’m not going to take them to court over it.

Get over it.

Give Me a "P"!

I’m not really a patient person. I think I’m a lot more patient now than I used to be, but I’ve still got a long way to go, particularly when I’m having a conversation.

Sometimes I’m talking to someone who is taking too long to get to the point, and my mind wanders. It’s hard not to daydream about slapping them and screaming, “Get to the point, you steaming mound of turkey fertilizer!” When I forget myself and actually shout it, that’s generally the end of thoughtful discussion (although it does change the subject, so maybe there’s something to be said for that tactic after all).

The other problem I have during a conversation occurs when I’ve already thoroughly researched the issue at hand and familiarized myself with the different points of view before reaching a conclusion. Nevertheless, once the topic is introduced, people will proceed to inform me that I am incorrect because of some point which I’ve already considered. Basically, I’m five steps ahead of them in the conversation, and my brain is about to eject itself and parachute to safety if I stick around much longer.

So if, in the middle of a conversation with you, I clutch the top of my head and start running away screaming, I'm sorry. Please don’t take it personally.

What kind of things do you have trouble being patient about?

"...was everybody dancing on the casket?"

I was thinking about what sort of epitaph I might like on my tombstone (hey, but you never know). I think it would be fun to put something a little silly on it, like “Dig here to find out whose grave this is” or “I'm with stupid-->”

But let’s be honest. No matter what kind of fun things you might want done at your funeral or what you want on your tombstone, your family will just override your wishes anyway. I suppose you could make their inheritance contingent on fulfilling your wishes. “To my brother Bill I bequeath $10,000, if he sings “O Danny Boy” at the funeral, in Pig Latin, while drinking a glass of pickle brine.

“And to my sister Suzie, I leave my house, if she can recite the entire periodic table while jumping on a pogo stick.”

As long as you leave out the obligatory “Mwa ha ha ha!” in the will, it could still be a solemn occasion.

Help Stop Laryngial Tremens

All right, people. Listen up. This is going to be tough for some of you, especially the ladies. It’s time to lay down the law. Just because you can sing vibrato doesn’t mean you should sing every song that way.

Yes, I know. It takes skill and control. It also takes skill and control for me to turn a doorknob with my feet, but you don’t see me doing that in front of company.

Now calm down and take a deep breath. Together we can get through this.

Subjective Objectives

Five things I want to do before I die:

Eat an ostrich egg omelet

Try at least a hundred kinds of cheese

Have a novel published

Fish in the ocean

Own a house (have it all paid off)

What about you?

Warning! Pun Ahead!

This morning I had a great idea for another Harry Potter book, a prequel to the series. It would be called Harry Potter and the Giblet of Fire. Then I remembered that they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Great Britain. Sigh. Such a wasted opportunity.

Shun the Non-believer! Shuuuuuuun!


So a few weeks ago I wrote a post about a mysterious calculator at work. Finding only skepticism, however, I snapped a pic of today’s cryptic message. Admittedly, it’s a pic from a camera phone, but it should still suffice. I mean, seriously, how do you type a semicolon on a calculator? How do you get multiple decimals?

"We're through the looking glass here, people."

I Work in a Button Factory...

Do you ever look at strangers and wonder what they are really like? I think we all tend to look at people we don't know and assume they are just another grain of sand on the beach of life, without anything unique about them. For example, I recently met a man who, it turns out, is a nationally-ranked pole-vaulter. Talk about something you wouldn’t expect. It’s these unexpected things that give us individuality. Here are a few things about me that you may or may not know.

I like cheese and jam sandwiches.

I have the amazing ability to wear size 10, 10 ½, or 11 shoes.

By concentrating, I can produce a strange, tickling sensation inside my body. I really want to know the physiological explanation of this.

I have a sneaking suspicion that if I were rich, I would become a real jerk (or at least more so).

I secretly aspire to be a James-Bond-movie-style criminal mastermind.

Now it’s your turn. What things do people generally not know about you that make you interesting?

Hair Today...

Sorry about the lame title. It was an homage to all those Bugs Bunny cartoons which used the word “hare” in them (which was about 85% of the cartoons in which he appeared).

Anyway, those of you who know me are probably aware that I usually go too long between haircuts. I’m currently at that point where the hair starting to take on a mind of its own and become totally unmanageable. And my sideburns are starting to look like those of the man for whom the term was coined:



Any yet I always put off getting a haircut, for reasons which are unknown to me. Let’s consider the possibilities.

1. I know my hair is only going to last so long. I’m tempted to take pictures of my hairline to see how fast it’s receding. So I want to cherish every last moment with it, and getting it cut is symbolic of losing it.

2. I got a bad haircut once, when I was about 12, and the trauma has stayed with me despite the overwhelming odds that it will be a good cut.

3. I hate spending $15 or $20 that I feel could be better used elsewhere, such as on the purchase of a funny hat or half a dozen bags of Doritos.

So how can I overcome this irrational fear?