Friday, December 09, 2016

12:00 a.m. Outside My Window

A man and a woman walking two small dogs. The little dogs are wearing sweaters. The man and woman are wearing long, puffy coats and matching headlamps. It's midnight and 22 degrees. I can see precisely where the man and woman are looking because those areas are illuminated. About every ten steps they stop and watch their little dogs smell and pee on things. It's all brightly lit by the headlamps. 

Walking tiny dogs in the middle of the night isn't all that strange (even in the cold). Dressing alike happens to couples more times than anyone wants to admit. It's the headlamps that have led me to try and work out what I've seen here, in this blog. 

Have I witnessed my future? I can see Deb getting me the latest in headlamp tech for Christmas. I can see me reciprocating and getting her one of her own. Now what? We have the gear and now we need an excuse.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The Pack

I can't think of anything to write about but I want to use this new keyboard so badly. 

I went on Craigslist looking for a used IBM Selectric. I learned to type on a Selectric. I was nostalgic about what it felt like to push each key. The sound and the feel was very satisfying. Each stroke would activate the little metal font ball that would strike the ribbon to leave the letter of your choice on a nice, sturdy piece of paper. It wasn't like now, when we're all basically typing into the ether. You were making something, building a document that could potentially outlast you like a painting or a sculpture. 

Yeah, I'm over romanticizing, but I did like that feeling. That's why I was going to buy an old typewriter. Then I remembered that my writing style requires that I erase entire sentences just to correct a lowercase letter I accidentally left at the start of it. The typewriter would never tolerate that kind of frivolity. If you were going to use it you'd better have your shit together, usually in the form of a handwritten outline scrawled on a yellow legal pad. 

I'm not too keen on the idea of doubling my effort when I write so I bought a gaming keyboard instead of a typewriter. The new keyboard features:

Mechanical keys that deliver gaming-grade responsiveness and tactile feedback superior to rubber-domed keys. With an actuation force and distance of 50 g and 2.2 mm, respectively, the keys are optimized for rapid command entry. Plus, the keys have been tested for durability to a 50 million cycle life.

In the biz, I think these type of keys are referred to as "Cherry MX Switches". I'm typing on them and while they do deliver some of the experience I was after, I'm still typing into the ether. I'm not striking and chiseling a flat, paper sculpture that will be found by an archeological dig a few thousands years from now. The clicks and clacks are just leaving marks on some pixels. And, in a few minutes, when I'm done those same pixels will probably be flashing cat videos or items on Amazon that I don't need. 

Later this week Julia is going to have her eyes checked. Glasses betray our weakness. If she has to get them she will be ostracized by the pack. She will be the decoy that is left behind to distract predators from the more viable members of the group. If she wears glasses, eventually she will be eaten. 

Later this month, Allie is going to take her driver's test. She's ready but doesn't know it. I think this is the case for a lot of things. Some things I will try to let her know about, other things I will keep to myself. . . at least for a little while longer. Otherwise she will wander from the pack and eventually she will be eaten. 

I'm wondering what to do with my wife for Mother's Day. I've always maintained that she's not my mother so it's not really my responsibility to remind her that she's a good mom. But that's not how it works, at least no in our house. And if I forget Mother's day I have a feeling that I will put myself in danger. I could, potentially be forced out of the pack and eventually I will be eaten.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Hippy Hobo Baloney

There is no punchline to this story:

When I was seven I was sitting on my front porch. It was a very hot day.

I watched a man walk by our house. He was dressed, from head to toe, in blue denim. This was strange because it was so hot and the outfit looked heavy and ornate with little metal studs. He seemed young. He had long blonde hair and a scruffy beard. It was clear to me, back then, that this person was something special.

His jeans were flared at the bottom. Bell bottoms were the style back then. I wore them, too. They often were chewed up by our bicycle chains. This guy's bell bottoms were enormous (my memory may be embellishing this fact, but in my head - they were big and floppy). 

He was barefoot. I'll always remember he didn't have shoes on because the hot tar on the road had coated the bottom of his feet. He had pink skin on the top of his feet and the bottoms were blackened with oozing, sticky tar. 

This was back when they would spray the roads with tar and then follow up with gravel. Often there was much more tar than gravel. I remember wondering how he could stand to walk on the little stones and whether or not the tar would eat through the soles of his feet.

He was eating baloney as he walked. The yellow, plastic packaging let me know he was eating Oscar Meyer bologna. It was the kind of stuff we had in our fridge. Not the substandard Eckridge Farms pickle loaf that was gross but somehow made its way into our sandwiches every now and again.  

He was eating the entire stack of sliced meat. He didn't take individual slices. He bit through them all, simultaneously. 

This seemed outrageous back then. It still does today.

I know I stared at this person for a very long time because he is seared into my memory. He never noticed me. He just kept walking down the road on his magic, heat-resistant feet. 

I used to think he was a hobo. I thought he was on a journey of thousands of miles and just happened to pass by our house on the way to the other side of the country. Now that I think of it, he was headed east - probably to be a hobo in Manhattan, eventually.

The truth is, he was more than likely living just down the road in his parents' basement. He had probably had the munchies from smoking weed and he was so high the hot tar didn't have much of an impact until he woke up to two bloody stumps at the ends of his legs. 

But I'm going to hold on to the hobo idea. I like it better. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

C is for Cookie$

It’s Girl Scout Cookie season again. This year, if we don’t make our quota (250 boxes), the troop has asked all the families to write a check to make up for the cookies they are unable to sell.

I was at the meeting when they unveiled the new rule. I told them that as long as there were no negative consequences for any scout who refused to write a check I was fine with it. After all, if there are repercussions their plan is tantamount to extortion. I don’t think there’s a badge the girls can earn for extortion. If there is, I’d like to see the design. Maybe I could submit some ideas for the Pyramid Scheme and Racketeering badges, too. 

The more I think about this cash compensation requirement the more resentful I get. I know the Troop Leaders put in a lot of time and effort coordinating these sales. I know the desire to build up the Troop’s coffers comes from a good place. Providing an excellent experience for all the girls can get expensive and I’m sure there’s pressure brought to bear from the Council. But I’m still not on board.

I’ll admit there’s more we could probably do to try to get people to buy cookies. But it’s not as if we don’t try at all. We put the word out in social media, we annoy our relatives and colleagues. We warehouse our 250 boxes of cookies in our kitchens, dining rooms or wherever they’ll fit. We stand outside in -5 degree windchill trying to get people to buy Thin Mints and Thanks Alots (which was really dumb, by the way – holy shit).

It’s not as much as the Troop Leaders do but I maintain that it is enough. Mandating compensation not only pushes boundaries, it alienates. Or maybe it’s just me. Regardless, I won’t be writing a check if we don’t sell all 250 boxes that are sitting in our dining room right now.

In other news:

Julia showed me the cat-collecting app, Neko Atsume a few weeks ago. It’s basically a Tamagotchi for animated cats. You leave food and toys in your yard and cats come visit. In return, they leave you fish, allowing you to buy more toys and cushions and empty boxes and buckets and heaters and whatever you need to attract more cats.

I’m not clear on the goal. Julia has amassed a number of yard extensions and has redecorated her spaces several times. After two weeks I’m still on my first yard. I’m desperately trying to earn enough gold fish to expand it. I check it constantly. I buy the expensive food to attract more cats and get them to like me enough to leave me the fish necessary to achieve the elusive (for me, at least) yard expansion.

Julia tells me that I don’t need to buy the pricey food. Just keep feeding them the basic, unlimited and free “Thrifty Bits”. The sashimi that I provided was probably welcome, but these are animated cats and Julia has assured me that they will settle. There’s no denying her success so I’ll stick with the cheap stuff for the time being.

I pay more attention to this app than our real cats.