Sunday, September 27, 2009

More Signs of More Times

Those of you who read my blog (all 6 of you) are probably aware of the fact that I am not that good at editing. While I love to craft a good story, and rework it until it shines with humor, I am practically incapable of spotting typographical and grammatical errors.

In fact I am positive that the ability to spot typos is dependent on a certain gene or chromosome that I just do not have.

But while I cannot edit very well, I am fairly decent at spotting signs that are extremely confusing or just completely asinine. For your benefit (all of 6 of you) I keep a running list of all the stupid that people feel the need to put in print for the world.

I would like to preface this first sign by stating that I love the superintendent of my building. He is extremely friendly, always says hello, and lets me know when I have a package. But his English is a bit broken. And when we were experiencing trouble with the lock at the entrance of my building, my super put this sign on the front door;

Door Open. Do Not Use Key.

I appreciate his commitment to keeping the tenants informed, but there are other ways to do this. Perhaps everyone who comes within spitting distance of my front door doesn't need to know that the door doesn't lock. I'm sure we could have figured it out on our own, because the sign my super put up sent the wrong message. It essentially could have been replaced with a sign that said;

Residents Vulnerable; Rob Them.

Luckily the sign was only up for a couple of days and nothing terrible happened. Inside my building however, there was another sign that concerned me.

My floor has a garbage chute. It is a small metal slot behind a full sized door. You can't put objects in there much bigger than a small grocery bag. There are rules posted about what items should and should not be put in there. But recently somebody, perhaps my super, perhaps an angry neighbor, left a sign up that had some fuzzy grammar that I questioned.

I don't really understand this message. Obviously whoever wrote it was feeling steamed.

I can relate to the desire to drive home a point. And by underlining certain words, you make people understand that this is important and this word should be focused on. But the quotation marks? I don't really understand what it is you are saying.

Are you using the quotation ironically? If you say "DON'T PUT" does that mean you actually want them to put? Or are you trying to use a word other than put?

Perhaps the note was justified, but it is the height of passive aggression leaving a note for someone else to find. It reminded me of the post its my pot smoking roommate my sophomore year of college used to leave me. He would leave a post it on the trash that said; Take out trash.

Oooh OK. Thank you for your knowledge contribution. This is a way better idea than actually taking out the trash yourself.

In retaliation I should have put a post it on our balcony porch that said; Don't smoke pot here.

Which, by the way, when I asked him to stop smoking pot on the balcony, he responded by saying;

I'll try and keep it down.

Keep it down? You know it's not the sound that bothers me right?

A friend of mine lives in an area in which there is a strip club between the train stop and her apartment. It is impossible to get to her apartment without walking past the strip club.

Honestly, I swear.

So the last time I went to visit her, I walked past the strip club and I noticed the doors were caution taped closed and there was a sign on the door that said;

The department of buildings has determined that the conditions in these premises are imminently perilous to life.

Imminently perilous to life? IMMINENTLY PERILOUS TO LIFE?

I don't think there was even a sign like this at Guantanamo Bay, and those premises really were imminently perilous to life.

I'm not sure what that strip club did to deserve such a stamp (I can only imagine) but whatever it did do, was enough to piss somebody off.

How on earth is that place ever going to do any bit of business again? What sign can they possibly put on the door after this one has already been up?

Hello fine upstanding frequenters of strip clubs. Remember that time when the department of buildings said the conditions in here were imminently perilous to life? Well, everything is OK now. Silly misunderstanding. No seriously, we're good.

I mean it's a strip club that presumably serves alcohol (Again I'm guessing because I never went in) so how good can it be for you in the first place? Strange naked women and booze was never something the doctor recommended as a cure for anything except maybe boredom.

I received a plastic Viking helmet recently as a gift for being a finalist in a contest. And on the side of the helmet it says;


I have a couple of problems with this warning. First of all if someone is looking for general head protection be it for a bike ride or a construction site, I would hope their first inclination wouldn't be to purchase a plastic Viking helmet.

Second. Does not provide protection... from what? Actual Vikings? If you are being attacked by Vikings you have bigger problems than a plastic helmet, I mean, you might have accidentally gone back in time and that is something you should be concerned about.

And finally, a Viking helmet made in China? Can you imagine Vikings outsourcing the creation of their helmets to China? Perhaps if the Vikings had been willing to work with other nations to begin with they wouldn't have had to resort to the whole conquering, pillaging, and killing thing.

Then again, maybe the Vikings wouldn't have had to be so violent if the other nations had just put a sign outside their village that said;

Door Open. Do Not Use Key

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Second Puberty

As I continue on this meandering path into manhood, I am learning many things. One of those things is the fact that I can't spend my whole life walking around looking like I just woke up. I need to get my life in order so that as I venture deeper into my late 20s I look like a semi-competent individual instead of just, well, an idiot.

It seems that no matter how old I am, my body is always entering a new form and a new stage of puberty. And the puberty of my late 20s has brought some changes I did not expect.

The first time I hit puberty, though repugnant to girls, and with a voice like a broken cello, life was relatively easy. My personal grooming consisted of brushing my teeth and showering. There might have been some deodorant involved as well. But basically that was it.

And in terms of self-beautification, well, that was just using large quantities of hair gel and/or hairspray to shape my hair into a perfect quaff. It was not uncommon for me to spend 10 minutes coaxing individual hairs into place. They night have been stubborn but I knew that my will could outlast that of any of my hairs on any day.

Apparently that will only applies to the hairs that grow on the top of my head.

Recently I noticed a rogue nose hair. For the last quarter century of my life, these little guys stayed neatly tucked away and were of no concern to me. This fella, due to unknown circumstances, had started a slow, creeping escape from the nasal cave. I'm not sure what his thought process was. Perhaps it was something like;

I have spent my entire life in this windy darkness... I SEEK THE LIGHT!

The day I noticed my friend was going AWOL, I panicked. Wasn't this something that was supposed to happen in my late 50s? Didn't I have time until such a point in which my teenage daughter bought me an electric nose hair clipper for Father's Day?

I'm sure it was probably one of those things that I noticed but nobody else did. But what if somebody did notice? It is not like having spinach in your teeth or an eyelash on your face. There is no quick fix. There is no smooth way to hide this nose hair. I can't exactly comb him back into place.

Having no nose hair clippers and seeing the immediate peril in tying to shove a scissor into my shnoz, I opted for the tweezers.

Yea, I know. It was a bad decision.

Let me tell you, there are few sensations more disturbing than the feeling of pulling a hair out of your nose. I am not sure how to describe it other than it feel like you are sneezing pain.

The mission was successful but I was left with a predicament. Was I supposed to just admit defeat and by the nose hair trimmer now? Was I going to be that guy? The guy in his 20s with a nose hair clipper. Or should I just yank the bastard out the next time he made a break for the border?

I still have not made the decision. And I don't like either option. But let me tell you, the anxiety is killing me.

The nose hair debacle, though unexpected, came with a pretty obvious solution. Things that happen on the outside of my epidermis are easy to react to and I can usually form my own opinions about a solution. The things that happen inside my body, well, I just take other people's advice.

The more I read about what I should be doing to stay healthy, the more trusting (or gullible) I become.

For a long time I never took vitamins. Once I had consumed my last grape Fred Flintstone, I pretty much retired vitamin taking. Now that has changed. I take my multi-vitamin, a Vitamin C, and because doctors everywhere tell me to, a fish oil capsule.


Have you ever in your life heard of a more disgusting thing to eat for breakfast? If my mother told me when I was a child that I had to eat fish oil every morning before I left the house... I probably would have run away from home.

Granted the fish oil is sealed in a tasteless, easy to swallow capsule, but it is still fish oil. And every once in a while, a couple hours after I've had one, I will catch one of those burps that lets you know exactly what is in your stomach.

And let me tell you, a fish Eggo combo is not an awesome taste.

During my first puberty I don't really recall spending much time on foot maintenance either. In fact, I recall spending exactly zero time on foot maintenance.

Perhaps you are aware of my recent experience with the PedEgg. After that very unrewarding interaction I figured I needed professional help. I decided it was time to let a strange Asian woman I'd never me before, take care of my feet.

I got a pedicure.

I know, I know. I am doing the opposite of manly things. But stay with me on this.

My feet had deteriorated to the point of needing professional assistance. It's a strange thing to take a part of your body that most people find completely repulsive and shove it in someones face for them to make it better.

Here you go strange tiny Asian woman, fix them. FIX THEM NOW!

I didn't know exactly what to expect from the experience. I couldn't tell if the woman scrubbing my feet hated me or just wasn't paying attention to me because the 3 times I tried to start a conversation with her, she just didn't respond. I took this as a sign that we were not destined to become friends and that this was strictly a business relationship.

I was pleased with the results. But maybe not enough to make it a regular activity like eating fish oil daily or yanking hairs out of my nose. But the smoothness of my feet was noticeable and appreciated. Maybe this puberty wouldn't be so bad after all.

Until of course I hit my 30s. God only knows where the hair will start to grown then.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Textual Face Googling

The handoff, in American Football, is defined as a play in which the quarterback, who starts every play with the ball, literally hands the ball to another player on his own team, transferring responsibility for moving that ball to someone else.

I would like to propose a new definition.

The handoff, in American societal communication, shall from this point on, refer to the moment in time when a person uses one of the following phrases; "I'll text you later. Are you on Facebook?" or "Google it!" to transfer the responsibility for communication to someone else.

By using these phrases people are literally saying, they would rather take the chance of not speaking to you later, as opposed to definitely finishing your interaction now.

These 3 phrases have turned useful and fulfilling communication with other human beings into something delayed, hollow, and extremely ridiculous.

My sister dated a guy once that we all referred to as "The Texter." This individual, while seemingly normal enough in person, was apparently incapable of dialing and talking into a phone. His primary form of communication was text messages. If he was proposing a date, drinks , or just checking in, he did it all through text message.

He was, in essence, a 14 year old girl.

Now I will not deny the importance of text messaging. I do it all the time. In fact, I text so much that I recently had to increase the amount of text messages I am allowed every month as part of my plan.

My friends and I use the text message as a supplementary form of communication. Not as the form. But as time marches on, I see more and more people using texts as the sole way they interact with others.

This guy my sister dated was physically incapable of calling her to schedule plans. Perhaps it is because we have made typing so second nature that talking to people actually made him uncomfortable.

We are dividing ourselves out from the responsibility of face to face contact. In fact, I am pretty sure that within the next decade we will start seeing "Google it" popping up on people's tombstones.

Some time ago, when I still believed in the gym, I was there (getting huge obviously) and I overheard 2 people talking. It was a guy hitting on a girl who was obviously not interested. It was a painful situation. So painful in fact that I considered dropping a dumbbell on my own face so I wouldn't have to watch it anymore.

This guy is rambling on and on and I can't look away. It was like a really long, slow, car accident. He was completely oblivious to how much this girl didn't want to be talking to him.

In the span of 5 minutes this clown told this girl to "Google it" three times. Once about some band he liked, once about his tour guide from his trip to Israel, and by the third time he said it I didn't catch the reference. I was too busy eyeing a sizable weight to end my misery.

Google it? No. That girl didn't want to Google it. She's not taking notes. She's not a reporter OK? You are not hitting on Lois Lane. This is a conversation not a press conference.

Don't tell me to Google things because I am not going to. If I wanted to google it I would have Googled it before I left the house. I want you to tell me what it is. Now. That is the point of having a conversation. And if you don't know what it is, you shouldn't be talking about it in the first place. I will not Google it. I will not Wikipedia it. How dare you turn nouns into verbs on me? Why don't you go Google it and talk to me when you have some actual knowledge?

A hundred ago when somebody didn't know what something was, they didn't say;

Hey go dictionary it.


You should library it.

No. They just, of their own volition, got up and looked it up. I don't need you to tell me what knowledge I don't have. Go find your own knowledge.


But I think the ultimate slap in the face is the one that Facebook hath brought upon us.

Long ago in olden times, when people wanted to become friends or stay in touch with somebody they'd just met, they made their best efforts to do so. What started as, "May I stop by your home sometime?" eventually evolved to, "Can I get your number?" and has finally settled on, "Are you on Facebook?"

I remember the first time it happened to me. It was my last semester in college and I ran into somebody I wanted to keep in touch with. I was about to say "Hey give me your number and we can chat" but before I could say that I was hit with;

Are you on Facebook?

Oh. Oh I see how it is.

Facebook has become the consolation prize of friendship. Too lazy or uncaring to ask for a phone number, we offer up a half assed "Are you on Facebook?"

We do it so much so that it has practically become mandatory for all interactions.

So basically what you are saying is instead of spending 10 seconds putting 7 digits into your phone and pushing save, you are telling me you are going to go home, turn on your computer, get on the interweb, log on to Facebook, search for my name (pending you can spell it correctly) click the button that says "add as friend" and then wait for between 3 and 15 days while I make you sweat it out on whether or not I will accept your friendship so as not to make you think that I am a a loser with nothing else to do but sit on Facebook 23 hours a day and instantly respond to any and all requests that come my way.

And then, finally I will click "accept" so that instead of being a person of moderate relevance in your cellular phone, I can be added, and probably lost, amongst the hundreds of "friends" you are "connected to" on Facebook.

Yea, you are right. That is way better than pushing 8 buttons.

I suppose it's better than actually becoming friends. In fact, if you want to become friends with me, you should probably just go through my blog.

And if you don't know the address, well... just Google it.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I have a friend who recently started business school in Boston. But she isn't going to just any business school; she is going to the business school. Harvard Business School, the home of the academic elite, where people wear repp ties and discuss the Orwellian implications of a free market economy under a cap and trade system.

Or something like that.

Now, I went to a state school where I was a straight B student. I didn't break any academic records. And my experience with people from Harvard had been limited. Maybe I had met a graduate or two on several occasions. I had never spent my time in a room full of them. I imagined I would stick out like a Prius at a tractor pull. And I got my chance to see what that was like, when I visited.

My friend comes from a non-traditional background, which is to say not from a world of high finance and economics. She comes from publishing. So students like herself had to come in a few weeks early for some extra schooling before the rest of the students with more traditional backgrounds arrived. This is a program which Harvard calls, "Analytics."

They are not called, as I was referring to them, "The Deficients."

The first night my friend and I went to dinner and then met up with her new friends at a house party for her classmate's birthday. When we got there, the party had been going on for a while.

My preconceived notions firmly in place, I fully anticipated walking into a house with passed hors d'oeuvres, a string quartet, and people with names like Muffy discussing the retched state of the proletariat.

I certainly did not expect to hear Jay-Z blasting through the front door.

In fact, I wasn't sure this was the right place. I even suggested my friend call to make sure. But my friend, more brazen than I, pushed right into the house.

What I saw was the complete opposite of what I expected.

The party music was indeed blasting, and people were dancing in the living room. There were a mess of cups around, alcohols, and foodstuffs, and a stack of Kraft cheese slices in the kitchen. There was also a conspicuous couple lurking in a dark bedroom. All in all about 50 people socializing and just having a good time.

Granted they had been drinking for 6 hours when we got there, so that might have helped to loosen the mood.

Sure there was Absolute Vodka instead of some fake Russian crap in a plastic bottle. And people had actually brought edible things instead of Taquitos from the gas station, but it still looked like a typical college party.

And aside from the fact that everybody looked a little bit older, and there were perhaps a couple more dress shirts and a few less flip flops than there would have been 10 years ago, it could have been a freshman party in a house off campus in any town, USA.

It distinctly reminded me of walking into parties my first couples years of college back before I drank alcohol. Everyone would hold those red solo cups full of keg beer or jungle juice, and I would just stand there, with my arms akimbo, orbiting my body like I was in an anti gravity chamber, as they searched for a comfortable position to rest in that didn't scream, "I AM 18 AND VERY INSECURE."

Even though that was many years ago, I still had a flash of that feeling and quickly went to find a cup.

But what made this party different was people did not pretend I didn't exist. They would introduce themselves to me and shake my hand, ask me if I was in the program with them.

The first couple of times that happened I laughed, because, well, even though I consider myself a bright individual, this was still Harvard Business School. And I could even make it through sophomore year of my Bachelors in business. Let's just say I didn't take Calculus twice because I wanted to.

But if I hadn't known in advance that all of these kids were going to Harvard, I probably wouldn't have guessed it after meeting them. Everyone just seemed like a normal human being, which kind of made me wonder why I thought there would be such a bizarre difference to begin with, but still.

And when I met these people, it was Friday night. There were no mandatory study groups, there were no tests of reviews or projects or otherwise. They were going to party like it was their first year of undergrad, and that is how it felt.

They weren't pretentious. Most of them seemed almost kind of scared of what was to come. But I almost felt like I fit in. I know that couldn't be right, and yet, there was something beautiful about these people who had finished college, and worked for several years, embracing this decision to go back to school.

And even though it is Harvard Business School, there is still something decidedly post pubescent about shunning work to be a full time student. As competitive and grueling as a program might be, there is a youthful mentality that goes along with the decision to just not work.

Even if that does mean performing regression analysis for foreign currency markets.

Either way it was such a refreshing thing to be partying with a bunch of "kids" who were still kind of buzzing on the fact they had been admitted to Harvard to begin with.

They weren't condescending or elitist. Heck, maybe that would come in time, but for now, they were just kids on the eve of their first real week in college.

Which kind of makes me think that we are never that far away from the people we once were. All that separates us is time, and a few experiences. But it is amazing how easily we can slide back into the mantle of our youth.

Perhaps it is the comfort of a time without consequence, or a memory of a sunset whose colors burn brighter in our memory than they could have ever been in real life, but there is a satisfaction that comes from looking back, and reliving the emotions of our past that we can never hope to replicate in the future.