Playing Is Half the Battle

I’m pretty certain that every generation experiences this, but that doesn’t make it any less real. I went to Toys R Us the other day and was amazed at how much toys have really changed in the last 20 years. I mean, there were still plastic animals and legos, but it really does seem like everything today needs batteries. It just seems like toys were so much cooler when I was a kid. You actually had to use your imagination to play. Too much passive entertainment like TV and talking toys will stifle the imagination. Unfortunately, that means that the rising generation will use their less-developed imagination to create even less original passive entertainment, which will lead the next generation to be even less original… It’s a terrible downward spiral.
Maybe Tickle-Me Elmo can cheer me up…

Mr. Stapler

I have the greatest electric stapler I use at work. At first I thought it was a weird luxury, but I really do staple a lot of things during the day. So when mine stopped working the other day, I was saddened and distressed. But it's back up and running today, after I tinkered with it (no, it was not just unplugged). Maybe I should name it. What's a good name for a stapler?

Gearshift

It really bothers me that so many people have only one way of doing things. They go at one speed all the time. I’m big into adapting what I’m doing based on how much time I have. If I need to get something done quickly, I can just move faster. If that isn’t enough, I pick the most important parts to do. I just don’t understand how some people are unable to change gears, so to speak. I won’t give any examples because they would invariably involve someone I know who might be offended. But you know who you are. I am shaking my finger at you in disapproval.

Color, Blindness

So I got dressed in the dark this morning. I don’t know why, exactly. I mean, nobody else was in the room, so there was nobody to wake up by turning on the light. But I grabbed a shirt that wasn’t the one I thought. I lucked out, in that it’s only a slightly different color than the one I was aiming for, but I’m still going to feel self-conscious all day because my tie doesn’t quite match as well as it should. Sigh

Honk Thump Bump Crap!

There’s a school crossing I pass by every day, and sometimes school just got out and the lights are flashing, so I slow down to 20 mph. But that’s a speed that’s so difficult to maintain that I pretty much have to watch my speedometer the whole time. So there’s actually an increased risk that I’m not paying enough attention to the road and could hit a kid. Maybe I’ll see if I can get my cruise control to work at such a slow speed.

Bah!

Just in case there’s anybody out there who still doesn’t think I’m a terrible person, I have something to tell you. I don’t like Christmas music. I enjoy the holiday itself. I love spending time with family and friends, and, as previously mentioned, I love eggnog. But Christmas music… I don’t know. It’s just so repetitive. I get tired of being told what someone I’ll never meet wants for Christmas, even when it’s just peace on earth and snow and roasted chestnuts.
That’s the other thing. Nobody roasts chestnuts anymore or hangs mistletoe, instead favoring plastic and painted styrofoam. Maybe people still go on sleigh rides, in the few places that still see significant snowfall. So, for the most part, these songs are no longer really relevant. They exist as sort of a memory of another time seen as romantic, when in fact if we were transported back to such a time we would be aghast at the lack of electronics and pain-free dentistry.
Here is another example of those posts in which I have no idea how I got from point A to point B.

Courtesy Laugh

Isn’t it weird how some things can be hilarious when you are tired but totally lame when you’re in full possession of your mental faculties? Last night I was sort of half asleep and the following conversation took place between two people in my mind.

Person 1: “He’s really crabby sometimes.”
Person 2: “And the rest of the time?”
Person 1: “He’s not here.”

Now, to be fair, I can’t remember the exact words, so it may have actually been funnier, but that’s the general idea. For some reason, in my half-asleep state it seemed pretty clever. Then I finally remembered it a few minutes ago, and I can’t for the life of me understand why I was so entertained by it.
I guess the point is that if you’re a stand-up comedian, you should play some lullabies to get the audience to start to doze off.

Taste-Tastic!

It’s funny that I did a couple posts about super powers but neglected to mention the super power that I do have. Are you ready for this? I’m a supertaster.
I know, I know. You’re all so astonished that you’re wondering the same thing: How can I make money by knowing someone with super powers? Well, it’s surprisingly difficult to capitalize on the situation. I would love to be a cheese taster, but it’s a surprisingly difficult industry to break into. Hollywood has nothing on the cheese-tasting business.
Some of you may be wondering what exactly a supertaster is. For that, I refer you to the song “John Lee Supertaster” by They Might Be Giants. Or you can always use the power of the internet to find out. Basically I perceive tastes far more intensely than the “average” person. Okay, so like 25% of people are supertasters…
The moral of the story is that no matter what you do well, there is always a huge umber of other people who can do exactly the same thing at least as well as you do.

Break a Leg

Last night I saw a musical at a high school. I must admit that my experience was somewhat colored by the fact that, generally speaking, I don’t like musicals.
There are, of course, exceptions, but overall I think you’ll find that most musicals please women but not men. With a few minor changes, however, I think you could adapt most musicals to allow everyone to enjoy them. Here are a few suggestions:

Remove half of the songs.

Take the remaining songs and shorten them by half. In the case of the obligatory grand finale, reduce the length by two-thirds.

All French accents should be replaced by a Western drawl.

Replace each dance with a fistfight.

Each act must contain an on-stage car or wagon chase. The chase must be set to the theme from Benny Hill.

Whenever a character dies, he or she should be alive again in the next scene with the explanation “Just kidding!”

More talking animals

To provide motivation for the actors, the audience members should each be issued a piece of rotten fruit “just in case.”

Do you have any other suggestions?

When the Egg Comes A-Nog Nog Nogging

There’s one thing that makes this time of year great. No, no, besides Christmas and Thanksgiving and family togetherness facilitated by stressing oneself to the point of a nervous breakdown. I’m talking about eggnog.
Oh, eggnog. Thick, creamy, golden ambrosia. Making the lowliest peasants feel like kings and queens. Warmer of hearts. Filler of stomachs. Ladies and gentlemen, I propose a toast. To eggnog!

Kwality

I just had a great idea. You know how kids are famously picky when it comes to food? Well, I realized that they’re much more discriminating than the FDA apparently is, given the rash of food recalls we’ve experienced recently. So we should team up each adult inspector with a toddler, and watch the quality of food products increase. Genius!

Laughter: Now Guilt-Free!

Sometimes I wonder if our sense of humor reveals our true beliefs and values. For example, I admit that when I see a tiny woman driving a huge truck, with her eyes barely above the steering wheel, it amuses me. Does that make me some sort of misogynist? I don’t think she doesn’t belong behind the wheel, it’s just amusing for some inexplicable reason.
I also think it’s funny when harmless injuries happen to people, like when people get smacked on the head with a cardboard tube or hit with a nerf ball. Does that make me a misanthropic sadist? Well, maybe. But look at it this way. I’m providing as much amusement to other people as they are to me. We may not all be willing to help each other achieve financial independence, but at least we can all score the occasional laugh off of each other. We might as well enjoy it without feeling guilty.

I’m trying to decide if I’m a night person or a morning person. I don’t have a problem waking up or getting out of bed, but I don’t just keel over at 9 p.m. either. Is this another case of how labeling people doesn’t really work? Is labeling someone a labeler just another label? Label is one of those words that sounds weird the more you think about it.

This stream of consciousness is brought to you by the letter Z, or the lack thereof.

Quick Question

Has anybody, anywhere, at any time actually enjoyed eating Bit-O-Honey candy? why do they make that stuff? It's like chewing gum with nuts in it. Seriously, I want to know if you can find anyone who likes it.

Geeky or Geriatric?

I must be getting older, because I’ve started using my shirt pocket to actually carry things on occasion. Well, maybe that’s not so much a sign of getting older as it is a sign of getting nerdier. Either way, it’s slightly depressing.
Wait a minute. Maybe there are some parallels here. Old people and nerdy people both wear their pants high. They stereotypically wear glasses, have health problems, and like bland food.
Sometimes I’m so insightful that it’s scary.

Potential Energy

I’m convinced that I have some undiscovered talent that would make me the best in some field or other. I guess that’s one reason to try everything you can, because that way you have a better chance of finding it. It could be some sport, or artistic medium, or simply the ability to wear a beard of bees without getting stung. Whatever it is, I know that if I can only discover it, my financial worries will be over.

Does anybody else ever think about this? If not, maybe the wondering itself is my talent, which would be very sad.

By the way, this is my 151st post. So, to whoever doubted my ability to write that many posts about nothing, Pbth!

Round 2

In light of yesterday’s post and the ensuing comments, I will use my incredible knowledge (i.e., the fact that it’s my blog) to settle the matter once and for all. Yes, that’s right. Thousands of scientists throughout the years have dedicated entire lifetimes to studying the differences between men and women, but I’m going to answer the questions right here and now.
The real key to this issue, as well as questions of addiction and even gender identity itself, lies in the mixture of genetic predisposition and environmental stimuli. That is, certain behavioral patters are predisposed genetically. But for the most part they are able to be overcome based on the environment and the experiences of each individual. For example, a person may be predisposed to alcoholism. But he obviously can’t become an alcoholic if he never touches the stuff. Do you ever hear anybody argue “I’m an alcoholic because God made me that way”? Of course not. It’s accepted that we exert some control over our behavior.
And so it is with much of the way we act and even think. Our genes provide a basic program, if you will. But we, through effort, can alter the source code, to continue with the software analogy, to gain a measure of control over the outcome. A woman who is raised exclusively around men is unlikely to exhibit all of the stereotypically female behaviors. But, at the same time, studies show that young boys and girls are more likely to gravitate to toy trucks and dolls, respectively.
So the real answer is that, taking each gender as a whole, there are marked differences between the way women and men act, but any given individual is going to vary greatly.
If you read this whole thing, you have earned a gold star. In fact, make that a pink or blue one.

XX Vs. XY

I’ve never described myself as a manly man, and I’m pretty certain that everyone who knows me would agree with that. As I have become a more-or-less responsible adult, however, I have begun to feel the pull of machismo. Part of this stems from the need to learn to fix things to save money. But it also seems to be a natural, inevitable process most guys seem to go through. And when I successfully fix something on the car, for example, it leads to a great sense of accomplishment.

Here’s a case in point. Down the street a ways, somebody is selling an old jeep. I don’t know exactly how old it is, how much they want for it, or even if it’s in running condition. And I certainly don’t need another car (although maybe it would end up more reliable than the ones we have, given our recent troubles). But something inside me is begging to call that number and find out. I’ve always wanted a jeep. I don’t know why. They aren’t very comfortable to ride in, and they probably get terrible gas mileage.

So here’s the question: Are we hard-wired with tendencies toward certain behavior? Do women feel an uncontrollable urge to put on makeup and impractical footwear?

Check out Wordsmith to explore the issue further.

Perchance to Dream

Last night I think my brain wanted to cover all the bases when it came to dreaming. There was somebody chasing me, some sort of alien takeover of the earth, and I was the star of a one-act play. Apparently I didn’t have any trouble remembering my lines, but I think my dream skipped over the actual performance to the congratulations afterward. I wish I knew what the play was about.

John, John, Bo-Bohn..

I have often heard people say things like “I’m no good with names, but I never forget a face.” I don’t know why there’s some sort of requirement that we remember one or the other. Personally, I am terrible with both names and faces.

Seriously, every time I’m introduced to someone new I instantly forget both their name and their face, unless there’s something especially unique about them. If you’re 8 feet tall, have purple skin, wings, and your name is Vlad the Impaler, I will probably remember you. If, however, you’re a white male, about 6 feet tall, and have short, dark hair and brown eyes, there’s pretty much a zero chance that your name or face is going to stick in my memory. It’s nothing personal. It’s just the way my brain works.

I also have an irrational fear that even when I’ve learned someone’s name, I will end up being wrong if I say it out loud. So there are times when I will avoid it, even when I’ve known the person for weeks or months.

So I’d like to apologize in advance for getting your name wrong, Ned. Or is it Ted? Come to think of it, have we met before?

Pre-Owned Furniture Emporium

I think every neighborhood has one of these spots. It all starts innocently enough when someone putting an old desk out by the curb with a sign saying "Free!" Then someone adds an old washing machine. Pretty soon it blossoms into this crime against civilization:
I'm so proud to live in this neighborhood.

Tele-What?

In today’s most laughable news story, the Writers Guild of America just went on strike. Apparently this means nobody will be writing anything for television until the strike is over. My question is this: How will anybody notice?

I mean, seriously, “original” writing these days means watching television shows from other countries and trying to figure out how best to steal their ideas. There hasn’t been a truly original idea in television in decades.

The ironic thing is that the worst-case scenario is also the best-case scenario. In the case of a prolonged strike, people might actually venture outdoors, or into the increasingly unfamiliar world of reading. Children might rediscover their latent imagination, and parents might learn to actually interact with their children. What a tragedy that would be!

Dude, Look! Like, a Lady!

I was thinking about how there is an Academy Award category for best actor and one for best actress. But there aren’t two gender-specific categories for best makeup artist or best director. Is acting really something women and men can’t compete in fairly?

I understand how there are separate men’s and women’s Olympic events, at least when it comes to things like weightlifting or gymnastics. I wonder about things like tennis, though. Can a female professional tennis player not compete fairly with a male professional player? What about golf?

The funny thing to me is that some people are going to significant lengths to blur the lines between genders. It’s only a matter of time before a man surgically altered to become a woman tries to get into women’s sports, thinking he can easily beat the other women. For centuries, even millennia, women were denied equality with men. Now, in some cultures, things are finally becoming more or less equal. But we hang on to some of these strange differentiations, thinking that a male and female actress can’t compete as apples and apples, which seems especially strange in liberal Hollywood.

I guess these are strange thoughts. But what else would you expect from a guy?

Super-Duper?

Think about your stereotypical super powers. What if somebody had them but only partially? I don’t mean lame powers like in Mystery Men or The Specials; I mean the really good powers, but not having them at full strength. I can’t imagine that would be terribly effective at fighting crime. Imagine someone who is able to fly, for example. Who’s to say they could necessarily fly any faster than they could walk? It’s funny to imagine somebody slowly puttering across the sky in a spandex suit, while the criminals make their getaway in a car.

Then there’s the ability to turn yourself invisible. Well, that’s another situation in which partial ability doesn’t do you much good. The ability to become translucent is likely to aid in medical diagnosis, but it’s not really handy when it comes to fighting crime, although some villain might become squeamish at the sight of your internal organs and run away.

The only partial-strength superpower I think would be really useful is super strength. You might not be able to arm-wrestle Superman, but you’d still be able to impress the ladies at the local gym. And it would be even better if you were really scrawny.