Monday, December 31, 2007
I present to you Six Hours On Sunday's list of the ten ugliest cars ever made.
10. 1998 Chevy Malibu
9. Dodge Neon, ca. 1998.
8. Chevy Cavalier, ca. 1990s-present.
7. Ford Taurus, from its conception to its death.
6. Scion xB, I think these turds appeared on the road after 2000.
5. Pontiac Aztek, ca. I don't remember. I just know they don't make them anymore. Thank God.
4. The 80s Ford Mustang.
3. Ford Thunderbird, the remodel. All those years designing, and this is what you come up with?
2. Ford Crown Victoria, ca. 1998.
Drum roll please...
and the winner is...
by a landslide, I should note,
#1 The Caprice Classic Station Wagon, ca. 1990s. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.
Friday, December 28, 2007
I am left with an empty, big, quiet apartment that is scattered with traces of feasting, giving, receiving, and a little bit of everything.
Pine needles litter our white carpet.
An air mattress leans up against the study closet waiting to be deflated.
The fridge is stuffed with ham, leftover Chinese, desserts, and champagne. It is so full that the Jones Soda Kate and I put in each other’s stockings can’t be slid in anywhere.
Boxes line the wall at the top of the stairs. They are waiting for me to take them downstairs to the recycling bin.
Pieces of our new grill lay inside, still unassembled, while most of the virgin grill stands at the ready on our freezing deck.
The tree has been stripped bare of its underlying fruit, but it still glows this morning.
Bags of unwrapped trinkets still aren’t put in their rightful places; a corner of the kitchen, on a hanger, or in a drawer.
This is a house crying out to be cleaned, but all I can do right now is sit down and think about how it got this way and be thankful for the reasons, and the Reason.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Thanks to JROD for the work.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
When I encounter a customer, like I did today, who is so mean that it makes me hate my job and nearly pisses me off for the rest of the day I wonder if it is worth writing about them. Does such a person deserve a keystroke? The touch of pen to paper? A lingering thought? Most would say no. I would too, but it is worth recording just how mean someone can be every once in a while. Maybe I’ll be writing a story down the road and I’ll want someone to be really mean, but since I can, at best, be only half as mean as the woman today was (even in my imagination), it will be advantageous for me to have a recording of just how rude someone can be.
Necessary background information:
We sell these wonderful things called travelers. Travelers are 96-ounce containers that we can fill with coffee, hot chocolate, chai, and other stuff sometimes. Travelers are in fact not wonderful. When you’re in the middle of a rush, they are your worst enemy. When it is slow, they are at best a nuisance. The thing about travelers is that they take about ten minutes to prepare. A traveler takes almost a full batch of coffee. This usually means brewing a whole new batch. One also needs to prepare sugars, stir sticks, cups, napkins, and some half and half to go for the customer. In the process of putting one together you will undoubtedly have to walk all over the floor and grab trinkets here and there that are necessary to complete the traveler. Just because you might have a traveler to prepare doesn’t mean that you can ignore customers either. You have to keep taking orders and making sure drinks are being made. You know? The usual. You probably don’t know, but you can imagine.
Since travelers take some time to prepare we encourage customers to call ahead with their traveler orders. If they do not it is a major inconvenience.
A woman called this morning and ordered a traveler and a dozen pastries. She was coming in 20 minutes. No sweat.
A co-worker got the traveler together. I selected a dozen pastries in pairs. I wrote on each box what was inside so when it came time to ring them up it would be easy.
Twenty minutes later a woman walks up to the register. She hands me a 1 lb-bag of beans and says she would like to buy them and needs them ground for a paper cone filter. “I would also like a medium non-fat latte. I also had the traveler.” She adds, with no smile.
“With the twelve pastries?” I ask just to make sure because she didn’t say anything about them.
“Yes.” She replies with brevity and a flare of annoyance.
“Okay.” I punch in the drink. I punch in the coffee. I remember off the top of my head a few of the selections that I made from the pastry case, but I need to walk about five feet to where the boxes are to get the names off of a couple of the boxes. When I do so I can see her shake her head and turn around to complain to the growing line of customers behind her that “usually they have all this rung up and put together for me”.
I come back to the register and am making sure I have the order right when I hear this out of her.
“You still need to grind this.”
“I know.” I wish I could provide video evidence of how this woman was acting. The dialogue doesn’t do her justice. Not yet.
I didn’t look up when I said I know. I was very fed up by this point because I’ve seen this all too many times and the company I work for is helping to foster this kind of attitude in customers, but that is a much bigger post.
“Your total is fifty-two bucks.” I thought that seemed a little high, but that was right. I sort of was hoping it was way too high and she wasn’t noticing, but it wasn’t.
She handed me her card. I swiped it. I handed her the receipt. She needed to sign it, but I didn’t have a pen right there. She needed to wait five seconds for me to grab one elsewhere.
I stepped away.
She sighed and shook her head. I was back with a pen. She signed the receipt and walked over to where she was picking her drink up.
My co-worker carried the traveler and pastries out to her and said, “Would you like help out to your car?”
She had this to say:
“No! I’ve been to a lot of other stores and done this before. They usually have everything rung up and ready for me right by the register. You need to get your shit together.”
She walked out and loaded her stuff into her Chrysler 300 and I caught one last glare from her. I stared back and narrowed my eyes like I was Clint Eastwood in some Western, but I didn’t think saw.
All in all, she was in the store for no more than five minutes. She got a good drink, got her pound of coffee ground, and her traveler of freshly brewed coffee. The funny thing about her complaint is that we can’t ring up a customer that is not there because there exists, unbeknownst to her, other customers that want to order. It’s a first come, first serve basis.
A customer like this lingers in my mind for several reasons. 1) It shocks me how; in the most basic of circumstances, people can be so rude. 2) Why are people this way? Is our environment breeding humans to treat humans like this? 3) Am I ever this mean to strangers, to friends or acquaintances? To strangers, I would say definitely not. To the latter, yes, I have, on occasion, been very mean in the past. 4) How can I aim to never treat anyone like that again?
And how can we forget this one…
5) Crap, this job sucks. I need a new one.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
This view, by the way, for those who haven't seen it with their own eyes (that would be everybody but Travis, Chris, and my parents) is right out our front door.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Krauthammer is pleased with the report. He says for him, "good news is good news, whether from Iraq or now from Iran", as opposed to what good news from Iraq would be for him if he was a Democrat...bad news. I just love this all too obvious jab at the left in the first paragraph of the article. Because the left doesn't support the administration's decision to invade Iraq and to stay there indefinitely, they must not want the country to succeed at all over there. It makes perfect sense.
Moving on. Actually, I have only one last bit to share with you. Krauthammer's last paragraph on Iran and continuing international pressure on them reads as follows:
The military option may not be necessary right now. If weaponization has been suspended, the window for sanctions has been widened. But there is no reasonable argument for taking military action off the table. If the Iranians refuse to negotiate seriously--their new negotiator says all previous negotiations are void and talks now return to square one--the military option needs to be on the table and in plain view.
I sincerely doubt that if the NIE reported that Iran had restarted its nuclear weaponization program Krauthammer would doubt the report's accuracy like he does by beginning sentences with "If weaponization has been suspended". That is what the report says, of course with moderate confidence. Wouldn't you trust a "moderate confidence" from the NIE over a most assuredly from the inner circle of this administration at this point?
There is also this nugget. "But there is no reasonable argument for taking military action off the table."
Going into Iraq seems like a reasonable argument for taking military action off the table. That doesn't seem to have worked out too well for the world. Of course, the Iraq invasion may only be a reasonable argument for taking military action off the table if Iran is close to Iraq, is a Muslim nation, is bloated with oil, and has some anti-American sentiment within its borders.
I'm bad in geography, economics, religious studies, anthropology, and political science, but I could be wrong. Who knows?
Thursday, December 13, 2007
How many times can Romney defend his stance on abortion? How many times can Romney and Giuliani go back and forth about their records on immigration and crime fighting? I must be way out of the loop too, because I had never seen Alan Keyes. I hope I never hear that man talk again in a public forum.
I am getting way sidetracked here. Andrew Sullivan links to the best part of the Democrat's debate today. I share it with you. Obama smoothly strikes back at Hillary's cackle.
Having found it in the basement a while back, they remembered that the time capsules were prepared by a family friend and that I had one too. This friend had rolled up a Los Angeles Times from our birth dates and saved them for us. My Times is still in Colorado, but we had some good laughs looking through the LA Times from April 7, 1980.
I paid particular attention to the ads, my favorite featured in this picture. This is an ad for a VCR, very new technology in 1980!
Here is the good stuff...the fine print, if you can't read it all.
"5 free movie rentals when you buy your video recorder!"
"Our lowest advertised price ever!" Don't forget the exclamation point.
"$10 below our last advertised price!" Exclamation point again, for emphasis of course on that ten dollar discount.
And that little number at bottom center. "$17.95 each" That's the price for a blank cassette.
Now, back to the future.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Chris is disappointed that I didn’t mention
I, like Chris, was excited about
However, when you drop three in a row at the end of the season you aren’t in the limelight anymore. Yes, if
Hopefully things will change in their bowl game.
No, I am not an uncle yet. Megan is still having this kid, but things are progressing. It sounds like
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Okay, so I’m not the best at making predictions or analyzing college football, but that’s not going to stop me.
I told you
If the college football season was a couple of games longer I would like to see an
I didn’t tell you
As much as I loathe LSU, they probably deserve to be in the championship game even though they have two losses. I say this because their two losses came in triple overtime games. However, there is some reluctance on my end because of some awfully close games earlier in the season that shouldn’t have been that close.
As soon as WV and
Colt Brennan’s performance for
I remain faithful though, and I have two words for next year.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Friday, December 07, 2007
Kate and I fly to San Diego on February 1. Although we will not be there for the birth, we will see our first niece when she is not even two months old. We are excited for that trip!
I hope and expect to make a reasonable return to blogging next week. By reasonable return I don't know if I mean 30+ blogs a month, but I can't have another month like I just did. I don't expect to get any sicker. I believe I will get better. That should lead to more regular blogging, which is great; it's therapeutic for me.
We are going to Kate's aunt's house in Burlington tonight. That's a little south of here and closer to Chicago where we will be spending the day on Saturday.
Hope everyone has a good weekend.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I don't like Missouri. They aren't that entertaining to watch. I predict that they will lose to Oklahoma, not just because I want them to, but because I honestly feel like they are a little boys team in a man's league. They remind me a lot of South Florida. Talented? Yes. For real? No. And no, I won't take them for real if they beat Oklahoma.
West Virginia is a seriously good football team. They are one of those teams from a not-so-huge conference (Big East) that could play any team from any conference and put up a good fight. Plus, White really is exciting to watch, unlike Chase Daniel. Plus, Chase is chubby, not like Mangino chubby, but he has an excessively doughy face for a QB. And, there was no reason that Missouri should have jumped WV in the polls after beating KU. That is pathetic, but not as pathetic as we'll get here.
Ohio State. The Big Ten has it so easy. Weren't they done in October? Seriously. Ohio State hasn't played in weeks and they keep moving up in the polls and might slip into the big game. The BCS...what a mess. This team does not deserve to play in the championship game. Period.
But wait, there is worse. There is so much worse.
Hawaii. #12. There are demands from players and fans that they should be considered for the national title game, are you kidding me? They play in the WAC. The only teams anyone can name in that conference are Boise State and Hawaii. I also know that Utah State is in the WAC, but that's only because Wyoming often played them early in the season and the game was often a joke because Wyoming would trounce Utah State. It was a joke for Wyoming to play a game against a team that Hawaii is saying they have built a championship season upon. That is pathetic. I'm even reluctant to give Hawaii a BCS bid. Please, file them away in the PapaJohns.com bowl.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
This is where I give you an update. It'll have a lot of holes in it, the update, but I'll cover the important stuff for now.
I had an MRI last Friday. We got the results yesterday. They were good. The neurologist didn't find any abnormalities and he wasn't concerned about my minor chieri malformation. You can look that up. It is very common. A lot of people have it, and only a percentage actually need surgery on it.
My headaches are gone for the most part. I feel like they are there, but the pain has been zapped. It is hard to explain. I am taking Topamax every night for those. The doc thinks that they are migraines. I am going to continue with that stuff and see him in two months if necessary.
I saw an eye doctor on Monday and he took a brief look at my eyes before telling me I have Iritis, which is an inflammation of the iris. The cause is mostly unknown, but I think it might be allergy related, possibly something in the apartment. The doc gave me steroid eye drops. They are helping a lot with the redness. When the patient has Iritis in both of their eyes, like I do, there is a 20% chance that it comes from an auto-immune disease. I am not currently showing any other symptoms of something like that. That is good. I know a lot of you pray, so pray that continues to be the case.
I am surprised I haven't collapsed from stress or a panic attack at this point. There is not much here in Milwaukee to keep my mind off of my health and every little ache and pain I have.
Kate is going to Las Vegas on Saturday for a national meeting of pharmacists. Yep, they are all into drugs. And I have been given a surprise trip to California. I'll be going to San Diego on Sunday and staying until Thursday. My sister is due on Sunday. Hopefully, while I am there, Brooklyn will be born.
Word. So, that's where I am at. You might have been expecting more. I can't blame you. There's more, but it is not ready to come out. I need to see my family first. I need to take a deep breath first.
There is some figuring out to be done.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Now...off to work for a little bit. Kate and I are celebrating Thanksgiving tonight with the other pharmacy residents.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Some of you may have noticed a dip in the amount of blogging going on here. It is not because I am keeping up with the novel-writing endeavor. It is due to some very bad headaches I've been having for 11 days now. We are in the process of figuring out what might be causing the headaches and how we can get rid of them. It's a somewhat slow and frustrating process, but I'll keep you posted.
I have basically had a migraine for a week and a half with a major case of red eyes. Seriously, I look like a vampire or something. A bright room is not my friend, and neither is a glaring computer screen.
So when you return here tomorrow, or the next day, or the week after that, and there is no evidence of my being here, you will know why.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
My friends, my brave friends and family even, are presenting him with a side of himself that he even refuses to come face to face with. I don't know what is best for this man. Years and years of isolation? Maybe. Maybe not. A chance to do it again? No. Freedom? No.
I guess what he has left in my life is a swath of confusion and hurt. And maybe that is all I will ever recognize it to be. I knew a kind man, invested in my upbringing, and concerned about my health. I knew a friend.
A friend I could vent to any time I wanted.
A friend who bought me a hundred Chipotle burritos.
A friend who absorbed my tears and anguish on the morning of August 13, 2000, when in front of a house that my friend had just killed himself in, hugged me. He was there. He didn't ask questions. He knew I just had to scream and sob into his shoulder.
A friend who always signed off with "Grace and Peace."
A friend who signed a Bible that rests on my nightstand to this day with "Bryce, May God's words always direct your life."
A friend that I sent this to in an email, my last ever contact with him:
Who seeks for heaven alone to save his soul
May keep the path, but will not reach the goal,
While he who walks in love may wander far,
But God will bring him where the blessed are
A friend that made me choose between him and the rest of my friends. No matter how much I may have loved him, that was an easy decision.
The friend became a stranger in stories, mugshots, and newspaper clippings.
He became a great deceiver, a splinter, a fissure that is to this day splintering a once solid and calm church family.
He became that confusion and hurt.
Monday, November 12, 2007
It's worth checking out.
Is it absurd to see writers picketing? Perhaps. We realize things could be worse. We could be lawyers, and this could be Pakistan, and then we'd have to get dressed up in those black suits and throw rocks. But picketing writers are less absurd than writers not getting a cent for their work.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
There are a lot of great things about marriage and being cut loose from parental support, you know the support I am talking about.
Disclaimer 1: Having spent less than five months in a marriage, I have a lot more to discover about it, but that can’t keep me from now offering up commentary on the experience thus far.
Disclaimer 2: I love my parents, and besides from the recent aid Kate and I received from them, we are financially independent.
- A big shock when you get cut loose is realizing how expensive living in this world is. There is health insurance, car insurance, utility bills, rent, gas, food, and any other additional bills like cable, cellular, or internet to pay for. Once over the initial shock of all that stuff (I am over that shock), it sort of feels good because I know where every single penny of ours is going. Since I am the one that doesn’t work 60 hours a week around this joint, I do all the bill-paying, a healthy chunk of the grocery shopping, and a majority of the financial monitoring. It is sometimes very stressful to see how expensive just living can be, but being cut loose and realizing that you can survive just fine away from home is a good feeling.
- Grocery shopping. Often it is an annoying errand, but I get in there with that shopping cart and there is no one keeping me from buying anything. That’s a beautiful thing. If anything looks good, I can put it in my shopping cart.
- That leads us directly to coupons. Before, well before I didn’t have to grocery shop, and I didn’t have to buy my own food. So, when I see a coupon for a dollar off any General Mills cereal in the Sunday paper I cut it out, and I use it on some cereal that I haven’t had in 15 years, like Apple Jacks. I think the stuff is going to be great, like it’s going to take me back like a real comfort food, but it’s not that good. I don’t care really, it’s edible, and I got a dollar off the Pick N Save’s asking price.
- When you are married you really share interests in a much different way than ever before. Example, I always knew Kate was an NPR listener, but it wasn’t until recently that I started listening too. She has sort of got me hooked. I even found it yesterday on this gimpy radio we have in the shower. I don’t listen all the time, I still like cruising in the Maxima to my own tunes, but every once in a while I make the switch to NPR and hear interesting things like the world’s fastest speaker. He can recite 655 words in a minute. Serious, he was on today. Freak.
- If I feel like walking around the house naked, I do it. I just have to pay attention to the trains though. I’m pretty sure an Amtrak saw my backside just about an hour ago. I’ve mooned them before on purpose, but today’s exposure wasn’t planned.
- Simple things like making the bed take on a whole new meaning. If it was just me here, I would still make the bed everyday, but I wouldn’t make it the way I do for Kate. I flatten the sheets. They are wrinkle free. I tuck the corners in nicely. I tuck the sheet in tight all the way up to the head of the bed. I fluff the pillows. I turn the bed down. And, after I wash the sheets, I spend a good ten minutes making the bed just right so I can see and hear Kate squeal into the bed out of pure enjoyment. She loves a well made bed.
- Cooking with your spouse is awesome, especially when your spouse can cook as well as Kate. This is another thing she has gotten me more interested in. I love preparing any dish from scratch, especially when I am surprising Kate. There is something so natural and primitive about real, healthy cooking. You know … the washing, the cutting, the innovation, and the final creation. I feel like I have built something after I cook. It gives me a real sense of accomplishment, and, it always tastes that much better if you make the dish yourself.
- I always hear new parents tell me that having a kid is so humbling. “You never realize how much you lived for yourself until you have a kid. All of a sudden it’s all about them and not about me anymore.” Getting married has given me that kind of feeling, not on the level that having a kid would, but marriage has certainly humbled me in that way. And we all know how much some good HT can be. (That is Humility Training for all of you too young to have taken part in HT sessions at core group meetings at Doug Johnson’s house.)
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Since I don't have that much dialogue, those words aren't very spread out. Right now the thing is 29 pages.
I refuse to call it a novel. It is a thing, a jumble of words, the past, and the present.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I'm catching up to Collin on St. Vrain Road in this video. That's not too surprising. He was carving. I was not. I am much bigger than him and I am on Luke Nosewalker.
Monday, November 05, 2007
The reviewer, Barbara Nicolosi, is clearly not a fan of the movie. As David Kuo points out, she hasn't seen the final cut of the movie. Maybe the movie has improved in the editing room, but maybe not. That's not really why I enjoyed her review. I enjoyed it because of paragraphs like these:
The "Cream of the Crop" percentage for Bella over at Rotten Tomatoes is a "25%" Which is about right. And no, I don't think the industry critics are panning the project because of its Christian worldview, although I know that many Christians will make that case. If only they were panning this film as propaganda. But they're not. They are panning it as bad art. Bad storytelling...and that should really matter to us Christians who are raving about this project, shouldn't it? Should we Christians be throwing ourselves on the ground in front of a movie just because the filmmakers are Christians? Should we rally around a project that is ambiguous about the "right to choose," simply because the filmmakers meant to make a pro-life film? Does wanting to make a great Catholic pro-life film equate with actually making one?
How do we respond to the serious charges against this piece from the secular critics? Should we just ignore what they say as the threatened snarling of jaded, hedonistic, pagans? I'm hearing people tell me that, anyway, movies are all just a matter of taste. "Movies are like food." Oh, so now, we Christians are going to be the ones making that case that there is no such thing as the beautiful and that beauty is all in the eye of the beholder? Be careful with that. I promise you, you're not going to like where it goes.
Regardless of whether or not I would enjoy the movie, I do agree with Nicolosi that Christians have a tendency to blindly follow anything that is Christian. By doing so, many of us have weakened the critical voice that is present in all of us, the one that helps us determine between good art and not-so-good art. We sort of need to do an about face when critiquing one another's work. It isn't solely about the Creator anymore when it is you and I doing the creating, it's about the creation.
Just because it might be Christian, doesn't mean it's great.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
I don't really know where I am going with this. To tell you the truth, I don't think what I am going to have come November 30th could be called a novel or a book in any way, shape, or form. I believe I am going to have a big piece of writing that could be trimmed down to several short stories or essays. However, it is too early to tell.
When 50,000 words are demanded from you, you need to write, and do so without looking behind you. It is writing with reckless abandon. Although I am just a tenth done with the goal, I have noticed how crappy my writing can get when forced into this kind of output. There are a few sentences and a couple paragraphs scattered here and there that I am happy about, but I suspect the crappy writing will continue.
I hope I can feel happy about at least a few sentences each day.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Like many of the clips I put on here, I first found this through Andrew Sullivan's blog here. I love You Tube, this being one of the many reasons. I would never see this otherwise. Barack can dance. Seriously.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
I have all these old videos on my computer from my digital camera. You may have seen the first one of the guys bombing St. Vrain Road. Here is another cool one. Sorry it is sideways. I can't figure out how to rotate video. Actually, since I don't have any video editing software I probably can't.
This is from the summer of 2004. A bunch of us went up to the usual cliff-jumping spot on the Poudre. Erik is the first one to jump, then Chris, and then Amanda. Anyway, I always wanted a picture of the first frame because Erik is going for it right there. Look at that extension.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Trying to write 50,000 words in November sure has sneaked up on me.
I’m still going to take a crack at it. At this point I am not too excited about it. I’ll tell you why.
I have no outline.
I don’t know what I am doing.
1,667 words a day is so much. I don’t even know how much. I’m sure I’ll think it is way too much come tomorrow, Friday, or Saturday.
I have two very vague, misguided, and shoddy ideas. I don’t know which one I am going with. I am leaning toward option #2. That’s all you’ll know about it for now. There is option #1 and there is option #2.
If I sit down and bust out anywhere between 500 and 1000 words, that I’m actually excited about putting on my blog, I have had a very successful and fun crack at writing for that day. If I do this once a week, I really feel like I’m on a hot streak. I’m about to be asked to more than triple the minimum of that range for the next 30 days.
If the Packers won, I was going to feel pretty proud to be in Wisconsin, and I was going keep on enjoying the Packers surprisingly good season. Take that, Colorado.
I had legitimate reasons to feel good for whoever won.
Old Man River pulled the W out of his 40-year-old arm...twice. This one, the first play in OT, silenced a lot of critics and the Denver crowd for the second night in a row. However, the first night the Denver crowd was silenced was a lot more depressing.
I don't know if anyone caught this, but shortly after the Broncos' only touchdown one of the commentators said, "Well that's more points than the Rockies scored in 4 games." You can always bet on someone announcing a football game to say really stupid things. Clarification: the Rockies accumulated more than 6 runs in four games.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I cautiously stepped inside of the hair salon attached to the grocery store. I had a free haircut coupon I received in the mail.
Anyway, I am sitting there being a little nervous about going to this place for a haircut. I just hoped they wouldn’t butcher me. I didn’t mention the coupon until after they cut my hair. If I mention it earlier they might zoom through the cut so I get an unbalanced, semi-mullet head of hair.
A 20-something blond snapped, “You ready?”
We go through the formalities of the haircut and she gets cutting.
Feeling a need to create some small talk she dangles a question out there. “No school today? No work today?”
“And you probably just left the house, right?”
She rolls her eyes at my response and scoffs. “I just had my first weekend off in six or seven months last weekend and I was up at 6 am.”
“Yes, well, my girlfriend was getting married and I was helping out. I wasn’t even in the wedding and I was up before all of them.”
“That sucks you guys are open on the weekends.”
“Yeah, well, have you ever gotten your haircut on the weekend?”
“We are open because of people like you.”
I thought of maybe telling her I went mostly on the weekdays, but I was pretty weirded-out by the aggression she harbored toward me for admitting that I might have gone to get my haircut on the weekend.
She complained some more about the hours and being open until 9 on weeknights.
“Do that many people come in after 7 for haircuts?”
She nods. “And most of them come in right before we close.”
“Oh. Don’t you love that? I work at Starbucks, so I have to deal with that a lot.”
“No offense, but that place is way too expensive. I mean, it’s just coffee, and I don’t even want coffee. I just want an Italian soda. Do you work at this one right over here?”
By right over here she meant across a big parking lot and across the street.
“Yes, I do.”
“I hate that store. They are dumb over there. I get Italian sodas at Starbucks all over, and when I try to order one there they say they don’t have them. They want you to buy one of the Pellegrino waters and then they say they can mix it up for you. It always tastes like crap. I just want an Italian soda.”
This is a famous complaint about Starbucks and I was at a loss once again to explain the simple facts that many customers don’t seem to understand about the Italian soda. It isn’t on the menu. It’s like ordering a Double-Double at McDonald’s. Sure, the Double-Double is a burger, but it’s not a McDonald’s burger, it’s an In-N-Out burger, so McDonald’s cannot make it. Starbucks does offer to make an Italian soda if you buy the Pellegrino. This option seems to satisfy most customers who come to the store bent on getting there Italian sodas. I don’t understand why people, who hate coffee, are annoyed by Starbucks’ prices, and want something that isn’t on the Starbucks menu keep coming to Starbucks. They don’t seem to realize that there are many other options. There are plenty of chains of coffee stores and local stores that still thrive in the coffee business. My guess is that they might even thrive because they offer real Italian sodas.
I could have said all this to the woman cutting my hair. She wouldn’t have had it. This lady didn’t like Starbucks. She didn’t like a lot of things, and as I would find out, she didn’t like pretentious sounding job titles.
“Well, the Italian soda isn’t actually on the menu.”
“Yes, it is.”
“No. I promise you, it is not on our menus.”
“Yes, it is. I order it all the time from the Starbucks in Barnes and Noble.”
“Well, that actually isn’t a real Starbucks. They have different menus there.”
“They have Italian sodas on the menu at this other Starbucks I go to.”
“Well, you must be mistaken because if it’s a real store it won’t be on the menu.”
She seemed to give up a bit on the Italian soda spiel. “So, what do you do at Starbucks?”
I thought this through for a minute. Was this a trick question? I mean, what do you do at Starbucks? Well, I take orders, take money, and make drinks. It’s like asking a gaggle of lifeguards what they do.
“I’m a Barista.” I decided to just give her my job title.
“You’re a what?”
This is not the only time I have stumped someone with Barista. I don’t know what it is, a complete aversion to words that don’t sound like part of the English dictionary.
“I’m a Barista.” I annunciated clearer this time.
“Oh. So, you make coffee.”
Our conversation drifted from Starbucks to me having an English degree to her asking me for career advice on what she should do next because she said, “I can talk, and talk, and talk.”
If she was doing something other than cutting my hair I would probably have given her a much bigger, more cynical and dry part of my mind, but I tried to be as cheery as possible because she was cutting my hair, and the mirror wasn’t lying. She was doing a fine job.
She finished up. I busted out the coupon thinking take that, like I just threw a knockout punch. I tipped. I walked out the door and thought to myself I could write a whole book full of encounters like that. Of course I would have to be meticulous in my recalling of them. The writing would have to be better. It could work though. I would name it: I Think You Are Weird.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Todd Helton on the moment:
"When I see the pictures, I will remember what a special time this was," Helton said. "For a bunch of regular guys we accomplished a lot. I hope the city is proud of us, because I know I am."
Most definitely proud.
Friday, October 26, 2007
What an amazing witness for the transformative power of Jesus would it be if the Rockies doused the Sox in champagne and celebrated their victory and praised God all the time. That would make people wonder about Jesus.Yeah, I am sure it would, but I still want Jesus to kick the Red Sox' asses!
The final score, 2-1, may not look that bad, but let’s face it, the pitching of Jimenez could have easily made it another 13-1 loss. The
With that said, there was some considerable improvement on defense and a glimmer of hope that the
Please, do we really have to have another boring East Coast dynasty? The Patriots are lame enough.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I am currently reading Ivan Doig's The Whistling Season upon my parents’ recommendation. After a final attempt at getting into the book on Monday night, I was finally lured into the story. It only took about thirty pages, but sometimes even thirty is a bit much. Anyway, the book has received so much critical acclaim from Oprah to The New Yorker, I am eager to see what kind of story it becomes, at least what it becomes for me. Maybe I will post a little more on it next week.
I am really here to celebrate being done with Beowulf. I was reading that for the last couple of weeks out of pure insanity. I had been forced to read it through in Middle English at
So, when I picked up Seamus Heaney’s bestselling translation of the classic I was pretty excited about getting to know the story a little more because this time I could read it in relatively contemporary English. The translation was amazing. Heaney did what very few people could do, or more specifically, would want to do with their lives and according to many academics, he was the best man for it. I’ll trust what the pros say and agree.
My excitement for the new, easy to read translation was easily washed away by the meat of the Beowulf story. It is just one of those canonical works that doesn’t sit well with me. The story is so uninteresting, outlandish, and boiled down to very archaic delusions of grandeur about proving one’s mettle that it doesn’t hold a bit of worth for me, beside it being incredibly old. The age of the text (which was most likely created around 700-750 AD) makes it a remarkable piece of work, but seriously, that’s about it with me. The story is so overrated. Here it is in a nutshell:
Beowulf, a great Geat warrior, sails across the sea to save a people from Grendel. Grendel has killed many. Beowulf, oh mighty warrior, chops Grendel’s arm off and the beast is defeated. Grendel’s mom gets really pissed off and Beowulf has to fight her too. He is so brave. He wins. He gets rich. The other warriors are pussies. Beowulf goes home. He gets old balls, but his legendary fighting skills do not leave him. With the help of a young warrior he defeats a dragon. Before the dragon dies he strikes a deadly blow to Beowulf, but with his last breath, when his humility has taken a hold of him, he tells his brethren to build a massive monument to him and to never let the legend of Beowulf die because he was the greatest warrior ever. The end.
Regardless of the translation, that’s what you get. So, please, don’t waste your time. If you do, then by all means, call me, and then we can rail on Beowulf for an hour. That would be fun.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Watch it all here commercial free. PBS Frontline : Cheney's Law
As I pay more and more attention to the media run-up to the World Series I am catching a little bit of an attitude from a lot of broadcasters that think the Mile High Magic is about to come to a quick, ugly end. Some idiot on Milwaukee's ESPN Radio station said yesterday about the Rockies, "they won't last more than five games." He obviously doesn't believe in their potential, but I am sure at some point he believed in the Brewers potential until they had a Met-like collapse in August and gave up their playoff spot to the Cubs. Tough luck, loser. Hey, at least the Brewers beat the Padres and gave us a one-game playoff.
Anyway, whether you like Cinderella teams or not, the Rockies can in no way just be swept away now. They have proven again and again in the last month that they don't read their own headlines. They buckle down, play the game, and take names. I suspect that's what they'll do come tomorrow night. Let the games begin.
And, hey, they cover sports that weren't just invented in their country. Neat.
Monday, October 22, 2007
This is a long post. Bare with it. It is important and something I need to share with you about the last couple weeks of my life.
On October 7th, just over two weeks ago I had one major headache. As I went to bed that Sunday night I was uncomfortable with the amount of pain the headache was giving me. I thought it a bit odd, but brushed it off as my first migraine. I didn’t know what to think, but that sounded okay.
The next day my headache hadn’t really subsided even with a lot of Ibuprofen. Again, I thought it was just a random occurrence migraine because of its strength, duration, and the pain bright lights gave me. That was, until, I sat down for lunch that day. I was having a frozen pizza that Kate and I had mistakenly decided to buy several weeks before. I knew it wasn’t going to be that great, but I did expect it to at least taste like pizza. It didn’t. In fact, it didn’t taste. I could smell pizza, but my taste buds clearly weren’t working.
I threw the rest of the pizza away. I scavenged around the kitchen trying to taste anything with little success. It was as if all the joy I got from eating had been muted by my tongue. I didn’t like this at all and hashed it up to maybe just my mind playing tricks on me. Or maybe it was just the pizza? It could have been so bad that it destroyed my ability to taste for a while. How sad?
Kate got home that night and I told her about my loss of taste and continuing headache. We didn’t discuss it that much, and again, passed it off as an anomaly.
The next day, Tuesday now, my headache had subsided a little, but it felt like it could rush back any second, brought on by God knows what. I got on the internet and did some research about the symptoms I was experiencing. The WebMD page I found with long painful headaches and loss of taste on it was the same page devoted to Brain Cancer and Brain Tumors. Seeing my two symptoms on those pages was immediately worrisome to me. I tried not to get too carried away. I wasn’t experiencing any other symptoms, and decided I needed to get away from the computer and self-diagnosing.
I went down to the lake. It was the most peaceful and beautiful day on the water I had seen. I didn’t really think of it as a coincidence that the world was so beautiful to me that morning. I walked through the crunchy orange, red, and yellow leaves of fall. I took deep breaths. My mind started racing. I knew the chance of me having a brain tumor/cancer was very slim, but what I had seen so far was enough to get my mind jumping ahead to extraordinary scenarios.
Enter the questions. What if I have six months to live? What if I am going to be diagnosed with a crazy disease and have a long, drawn out battle with an illness that will most likely kill me? What if I have to have brain surgery and Kate and I get buried under a $200,000 hospital bill right before I am scheduled to go back to work, right before we are about to get on our feet? What if I went through this battle and didn’t make it and Kate was left without me? That question led to the most despairing outcomes. It was like, okay, if it’s my time to go, then fine, but what about Kate? We just got married. We are so damn young. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen, but I have heard of them happening. No, not to Kate. Not to me. What would she do? How would she get on? I forgot myself and worried about those I would leave behind like my friends, parents, but especially Kate. The power of these imaginings is extremely impressive. As I strolled along the beach I thought about how each situation could pan out and before I left I was resolved to not let whatever the heck was wrong with me to take me down like this. If, in fact, it was to take me, I was resolved right then and there to put up the fight of my life.
It was a very powerful couple of hours there on the beach by myself. I thought more about the wake of my dip in this human ocean than I had ever before. Yes, my mind was racing, and it may sound absolutely ridiculous to you, but this was real. This was really happening to me and I had to think about all the possibilities. I may have spent most of the time by the lake worrying about worst case scenarios, but I still hoped for good news and healing.
Later that day, I spoke with my mom who had spoken with my uncle, an anesthesiologist, and she said he recommended talking with a neurologist right away. I told Kate and she happened to be working that night with the wife of a neurosurgeon. She spoke to her husband and called that night suggesting that I get a CT scan to rule out the possibility of a brain tumor.
The thought of paying for a CT scan was a little frustrating, but we decided it was worth paying that much for peace of mind. We went in on that Wednesday and spent six hours at the hospital for a CT scan that took all of two minutes and a consultation with the neurosurgeon about the results. Meanwhile, my dad was home with my mom sitting around and praying. It was a long afternoon, but worth the wait. The CT scan was clear. I don’t have a brain tumor, at least not one bigger than a pea. Any other issue with the brain would have to be found by doing an MRI, a longer and costlier test.
So…I still had a little headache and I could still take ladles of chili oil and it wouldn’t taste spicy. True story. I really did that on the second day my taste was gone. I also put soap in my mouth, hoping it would taste as awful as last time I had soap in my mouth (probably when I was 8). It didn’t, but it still made me gag. The flavor was like everything else, very muted or non-existent. So what did the Doctor have to say? He really didn’t have a good explanation. It could be a side effect from a severe headache. It could be something viral. It could be a number of things. I really didn’t care what he said, just as long as he said it wasn’t a brain tumor and that it wasn’t something to be very worried about. He said both, and Kate and I took a deep sigh, and my parents took a deep sigh as I called them while we were leaving the hospital.
That Thursday at home I wasn’t worrying nearly as much as I had been two days before, but I did feel something new changing with my body. I was playing with my lip movement and it felt inexplicably inaccurate and handicapped. In a matter of hours it was hard for me to bite my upper lip without feeling like all my facial movements were being dominated by the right side of my face. I started having a hard time blinking my left eye. I couldn’t squish my face up equally on both sides. My smile was lopsided. In a few hours I had lost fine motor movement in the left side of my face and neck.
Why couldn’t it have just stopped with a headache and loss of taste? I sat around worrying some more and praying every ten minutes. I heard Kate walking up the stairs and I didn’t want to face her. I didn’t want to put the burden of this on her as well, but that is tough love. I wished I could just not tell her, but she is my wife. I told her how I was feeling. She was immediately scared. So was I. We held each other right there in the kitchen, fearing what symptom might be next, what really was wrong with me.
We recouped in a little bit and Kate decided to call her mom, a nurse practitioner (a very good one at that), and tell her about my symptoms. Kate’s mom quickly mentioned Bell’s palsy and told us to look it up in Kate’s disease book. I was suddenly so happy with the huge medical books that any medical professional has on hand. Kate has several of them and a list of every disease known to man on her PDA that is the size of my wallet.
Bell’s Palsy (p.1054 2007 Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment…big book) - Bell’s palsy is an idiopathic facial paresis of lower motor neuron type that has been attributed to an inflammatory reaction involving the facial nerve near the stylomastoid foramen or in the bony facial canal. … The facial paresis generally comes on abruptly, but it may worsen over the following day or so. The face itself feels still and pulled to one side. There may be ipsilateral restriction of eye closure and difficulty with eating and fine facial movements. A disturbance of taste is common, owing to involvement of chorda tympani fibers, and hyperacusis due to involvement of fibers to the stapedius occurs occasionally.
Reading that gave me a great sense of relief. All my symptoms were linked to a relatively common problem that, as far as I could tell, was commonly resolved by steroids and would go away even without drugs in as soon as two weeks.
We took the next two days to see if some other symptoms might come about. Nothing new happened, so we rang the Doctor and got a prescription for steroids that are supposed to help ease the swelling on the nerve and speed up the recovery process. I started those eight days ago and have three more days on them. Things have improved slightly, or not at all. I can blink my left eye more easily. I can still only smile out of one side of my mouth. And my taste, which is quickly becoming the most painful reminder of this paresis, has not returned yet. Eating is just absolutely anti-climactic. There is no better way to explain it. Food smells great. Going out to eat sounds exciting, too, but all the excitement fizzles away after you take the first bite.
Bell’s palsy can take as little as two weeks to six months to go away. Today is the two-week mark for me and my patience with it has definitely grown thin at times. It is impossible to know exactly when my normal facial movement and taste will return. The steroids also have been making me a little moody too. And, for the first time in my life, I am experiencing a little insomnia brought on by the drugs. I have been up since 4 am.
Kate and I are still pretty hopeful about me making a complete recovery. Among other things, we pray about it constantly and we would very much appreciate your prayers, support, or questions about it. It has been a trying time for us. Many of our conversations in the past couple of weeks, especially in the early days of this ordeal were ones that I never thought I would have with Kate at this age, but we had them, and the gravity of them hasn’t completely begun to settle in. We are extremely grateful that we think I have Bell’s palsy and not some wicked disease. Extremely grateful.
I am sorry I didn’t get a chance to tell every one of you about this personally, but that is the way of things. I couldn’t think of a better way to let everyone know about this than putting it on my blog, and it was a good writing exercise too, although one I hope not to repeat anytime soon.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Lewis Hamilton, a young British rookie, had the chance to become the youngest F1 champion in the history of the sport. Fernando Alonso, the two-time defending world champion, had a chance to extend his streak to three and overtake Hamilton's position at McLaren-Mercedes to return to being their number one driver.
Lastly, Kimi Raikonnen, the young Finn, who has for Ferrari attempted all season long to fill the very big shoes of 7-time world champion Michael Schumacher, had a chance to claim his first F1 title. He did, that's why they call him the Iceman.
The championship came down to the last race and all I could do was read about it because out here in Wisconsin you have to get digital cable to get the SPEED channel. It was a bit sad to sit this season out with all the excitement, but I don't plan on doing it again.
Congratulations to Kimi. Woo. Woo.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Among all the top teams in college football that have been knocked off this year, the least surprising defeat was that of the
They were the most overrated collegiate football team in a few years. It was only a matter of time before a team,
On another note…
Could the tenure of Sonny Lubick be coming to an end in
Thursday, October 18, 2007
In honor of this amazing run, this Rocktober, I watched one of the greatest baseball movies ever made today, Field of Dreams.
Kevin Costner’s opening narration is genius. His words, accompanied by James Horner’s master score, couldn’t set up the film in a better way. Take this nugget, for example:
Officially, my major was English, but really it was the 60s. I marched. I smoked some grass. I tried to like sitar music. And I met Annie. The only thing we had in common was that she came from
Iowa, and I had once heard of . After graduation we moved to the Iowa Midwestand stayed with her family as long as we could, almost a full afternoon.
Annie and I got married in June of ’74. Dad died that fall. A few years later Karen was born. She smelled weird, but we loved her anyway. Then Annie got the crazy idea that she could talk me into buying a farm. I’m 36 years old. I love my family. I love baseball, and I’m about to become a farmer. But until I heard the voice, I’d never done a crazy thing in my whole life.
And Ray Kinsella does hear a voice. The voice says, “If you build it, he will come.” It is not long before Ray lets the voice convince him it is okay to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his corn field. His yearning to do so goes back to his frustrating history with his father. Ray says to his wife, the night before he decides to build the field that, “He [Ray’s father] must have had dreams, but he never did anything about them. For all I know, he may have even heard voices, too, but he sure didn’t listen to them. The man never did one spontaneous thing in all the years I knew him. I’m afraid of that happening to me and something tells me this may be my last chance to do something about it. I want to build that field.”
So he does. Ray and Annie spend their savings to build a first class baseball diamond in the middle of their acreage. One night, after the construction is done, Ray and Annie are laying out in center field and Ray says, “I have just created something totally illogical.”
“That’s what I like about it.” Annie says.
Winter passes and no miracle happens on the field Ray has built. One spring evening though, Ray finds a man on his field. The man is “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, played by a young, awesomely-casted, Ray Liotta. The field comes alive at this point in the film. Not everyone sees the players on Ray’s field right away, but Ray, Annie, and Karen see them, and they believe. Belief is enough to suspend rationality. Even in the face of bankruptcy Ray turns to Annie and says, “We are keeping this field.”
“You bet your ass we are.” Annie responds.
From “If you build it, he will come” to “Ease his pain” to “Go the distance”, Ray helps others achieve their dreams, or at least helps alleviate some of their pain from not following their dreams.
As the story pans out Ray manages to bring an estranged writer, Terrance Mann (played by James Earl Jones), and a baseball player, who never got his chance to get a hit in the bigs, to his baseball diamond in the middle of
Left mostly speechless, Jones can only utter “Unbelievable.”
“It’s more than that. It’s perfect.” Ray responds.
The next day, while Ray is in the middle of being pressed to foreclose, James Earl Jones argues in favor of not foreclosing, an option that, to say the least, rests on a miracle. He says:
“People will come, Ray. They’ll come to
for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway, not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children longing for the past. ‘Of course, we won’t mind if you look around,’ you’ll say. It’s only twenty dollars per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it. For it is money they have, and peace they like.” Iowa
“Ray, just sign the papers.”
“Then they’ll walk off to the bleachers and sit in their shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.”
“Ray, when the bank opens in the morning they’ll foreclose.”
“People will come, Ray.”
“You’re broke, Ray. You sell now or you lose everything.”
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball.
has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that was once good, and could be again. Ooh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.” America
Staring down the hopes and aspirations of the players on the field, Ray is willing to gamble his field of dreams. “I’m not signing.”
That evening, Jones is invited into the corn by Liotta. Ray is irate at first, not understanding why he isn’t invited out into the corn. Liotta says:
“But you’re not invited.”
“Not invited? What do you mean I’m not invited? That’s my corn out there. You guys are guests in my corn. I’ve done everything I’ve been asked to do. I didn’t understand, but I’ve done it. I haven’t once asked what’s in it for me.”
“What are you saying?”
“What’s in it for me?”
“Is that why you did this? For you?”
Ray is caught off guard, silenced by the moment and the sting of Liotta’s last question.
It is clear that Ray might be the last one to truly find out “what’s in it for” him, when he sees his father, now a young man, walking toward Ray and his family from home plate. Ray greets his father and they walk off toward the diamond.
As they are strolling along his father praises the chance to play again.
“For me. Well, for me, it’s like a dream come true. Can I ask you a question? Is this heaven?”
“Hmm, I could have sworn this was heaven.”
“Is there a heaven?”
“Oh yeah. It’s the place dreams come true.”
Costner pauses, turns back to the house to see his wife and daughter laughing on the porch, scans the baseball field, and takes a deep breath, before saying, “Maybe this is heaven.”
The moment makes me want to jump up and down. Watching someone find a little piece of heaven on earth, even if that someone is in a movie, is touching because that someone has found peace. It inspires, and often inspires people enough to go chase their own dreams. We may need a little reminder every once in a while that anything is possible. That’s what makes Field of Dreams such a good movie. That’s what makes the 2007
It’s more than that. It’s perfect.