Monthly Archives: January 2013

Let us bow our heads in grace

Bless us, Oh Lord, for these, thy gifts, which we are about to receive, which we ordered forty-five minutes ago, which, it really shouldn’t be taking this long. Lord, did the waiter not understand me? Lord, did I not enunciate clearly enough? I did say medium-rare, right? Lord, please look after the less fortunate, the restaurant workers, those that can’t seem to do their jobs right. God, please guide the kitchen staff. Steer the grill man’s spatula in the right direction, make sure he’s not pressing down on the beef, robbing it of its juiciness. Because I will send it back, heaven help me.

Well, it’s about time. Do you mind bringing it back in five minutes or so? My family and I are right in the middle of grace. It’s just that we’ve been waiting here for the better part of an hour. Yes, it has been an hour, I’ve been timing the whole thing. How am I supposed to know when you entered it in the computer? You could have forgotten. You probably forgot. I don’t care, I don’t believe the timestamp on that check. It’s trickery. It’s a deception.

You see kids? This man is lying. He’s doing the devil’s work. Father, deliver us from Satan, his trickery, his lies, his forty-five minute cheeseburgers. Lord, I pray thee, also show mercy on this poor, misguided waiter. Deliver him from evil also. If it is your will, help him to understand the importance of timely service, of a friendly smile.

You can go, seriously, just bring it back in five minutes. Please. Lord, why must my family and I always be tested with the most incompetent servers? What are trying to tell me? Truly, your plan is mysterious. Your ways, the way you work, more mysterious yet. Give me a sign, oh Lord, grant me this one request, enlighten me to the road ahead. Is a twelve percent tip too generous for a job thus far not well done?

Has it been five minutes already? All right, just put it down, thanks. Wait, kids, don’t dig in just yet. Honey, please, in a minute. We haven’t finished saying grace. Lord, we thank you for this bounty, from thy bounty, our bounty, this cheeseburger, these fries. We thank you that our food has finally arrived. We ask you to bless the ketchup which we are about to pour, to make sure that whoever married the condiments last night, that they didn’t just dump fresh ketchup from the container into an old ketchup bottle. Not like that one time, where something must have fermented overnight, exploding when we opened it up. Oh the mess! It must have been a punishment, some sign, something. Did we mention your ways, the mystery? Yes, the mysteriousness.

Lord, I asked for my burger medium-rare, not medium. Is it too much to ask for my burger to come out the way I asked? Is this because of something I’ve done? Are we not saying grace for long enough before each meal? Is cooking a burger really that hard? Aren’t these things timed out? Is this because I shouted your name in vain last month? Are we still stuck on that? It wasn’t my fault! That idiot shot a nail through my foot with a nail gun! What would you have me say? I’m sorry, but in the heat of the moment, “gosh darn it” didn’t feel like it was going to cut it.

Heavenly father, I apologize, I beg you, cool my ungodly temper, teach me compassion. Allow me to enjoy this slightly overcooked beef patty. Show me how to forgive the staff, that idiot cook, that lazy waiter. The ketchup looks great. Please, grant me easy digestion, bestow upon me the time and space available after dinner to order dessert. If it suits you, please look over my waffle-cone hot fudge sundae, make sure that they haven’t run out of pistachio ice cream again. Lord, I beseech thee, we thank thee for these thy gifts. Oh, Lord, we thank thee. In the name of the father, the son, the holy spirit. Amen. Dig in!

My brain feels like a bunch of cool power tools

Nothing. I can’t think of anything. My brain can’t even get started. Imagine trying to use a chainsaw. You know how you have to pull the string on a chainsaw, and each time you pull it, it’ll make that noise, like, OK, maybe it’s going to start, maybe the whole thing will rev into action, but it doesn’t, it dies right back down, so you try again, and again, and you realize that, maybe it’s not about how hard you’re pulling, maybe it’s more about how fast you’re pulling it. It has to be hard and fast, just the right amount of both. My brain feels just like that chainsaw, but with the handle cut off the rope, so you can’t get a grip. Actually, it feels like there is no rope. And there’s no chain either. And also, it’s totally out of gas.

I’ve never actually used a chainsaw. But it’s one of those things I’ve seen on TV a hundred thousand times. I’m so familiar with the image that I’m almost positive I could pick up a chainsaw and use it and it would be exactly how I imagine it to be, no surprises, nothing separating real life from the scenery I’ve cooked up in my mind.

It’s the same with jackhammers. Every time I pass a bunch of guys doing some construction work I’m always more than a little bit tempted to approach them and be like, “Guys, come on, please, let me use the jackhammer. Come on.” And, if I were working construction, I’d be thrilled. I’d be like, “You got it boss,” and then I’d sit back and take a break. I think that chain sawing, jackhammering, these have got to be like universal humanisms. (Is that a word?) Like I think that anybody could do it.

If I could design my own jackhammer, I’d add some pegs at the bottom for me to put my feet on, both of them, so I’d be standing on the jackhammer as it went to work. Picture a pogo stick going out on a date with a jackhammer, having a few too many drinks, taking things way too fast and having a baby. I’m pretty sure that, given the right environment, like a happy home and a balanced diet, that baby would grow up into the appliance that I’m thinking about in my head. I’d call it either a jackstick or a pogohammer. Not too original, I obviously just switched around the first and last parts of each item, but it’s not about the name here, it’s about the tool, and how cool it would be, how much more fun it would be to operate than your traditional jackhammer.

And I don’t want to get stuck on this here, but we’d see a surge in construction activity, because so many more people would want to use this awesome new tool. More construction workers, more construction projects, a more vibrant economy, more people enjoying what they do for a living. I think that Western society as a whole would be much better off, much more satisfied. And what if you make the bottom part detachable, so when you’re at work it’s a chisel, for breaking rocks and cement, but then at the end of the day can replace it with something soft, something bouncy, and so it would keep the pogo aspect of the hybrid alive also. These construction guys could own their own pogohammers, they’d ride them to work, use them at work, and them pogo home. Fun, environmentally friendly, a whole range of possibilities here.

And so I’m thinking, what other sorts of appliances or power tools can we maybe merge with other more common items? I started with a chainsaw. What if, instead of a chain, for cutting, you could swap in like a comb, for brushing? A combsaw. And this way you could brush your hair in a fraction of the time. Although, we might have to figure out something about the gas engine. I can’t imagine people wanting to breathe in all of that exhaust, like in their bathrooms or bedrooms.

No, let’s go back to the jackhammers. Maybe we could put a wheel on the bottom. And so it would be like one third jackhammer, or not one third … hold on … it would be one half jackhammer, then one quarter pogo stick and one quarter Segway. Do you need a license to operate a jackhammer? I hope not. Although it probably depends on local laws, permits, regulations. Could we change that? Does anybody know anybody on the City Council? What do you think the chances are that we could fix it, make it easier for your average everyman to own and operate a pogohamway?

I don’t want to be a part of this system

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how I’m so sick of shaving. It started out as this kind of played-out, whining diatribe (I’m not even sure what diatribe means exactly, I just have a feeling that it fits here) about not wanting to conform, even though I do every single day. About not wanting to be the grown up that I see when I look in the mirror every ten minutes or so (I’m very handsome.)

But what started out as a shallow attempt at humor, it grew inside, it struck something deep, a little deeper, not too deep, I’m not sure there’s anything that deep. But slightly deeper than I’m used to delving. No, I don’t like shaving. And why should I? Why should I shave every day?
And I also hate taking a shower. Why do I have to clean myself off every day? Sometimes more? Sometimes I’ll get up, take a shower, go to work for a few hours, then I’ll come home and go for a run. Now, what, I have to shower again? Twice in one day? And I just do it. Why? Because I’m programmed, man, I’m totally brainwashed.

You know what else I can’t stand? Brushing my teeth. Why? You get up every day and you have to floss, and the toothbrushes I grew up with, they don’t even cut it anymore. I go the dentist and he’s like, “Rob, you simply have to buy an electric toothbrush! And make sure you’re spending at least two hundred dollars! I insist! Oh, and also, you have to buy special toothpaste, the Sensodyne, the stuff that costs three times the amount as Colgate and Crest. And did you think once a year is all your going to have to spend here? Ha! Twice a year! Come in for a cleaning. Have my hygienist brush your teeth. Three times a year. Just stop by every day before work and my hygienist’s assistant will help you rinse the correct way with Listerine. But not just any Listerine. The special kind, the kind only sold to dentists.”

I’m done. Get me out of this program. Oh yeah, sit there and judge me. Sit there and imagine how bad my breath is going to be. Well maybe humans aren’t meant to be standing this close to each other. I have a loud voice. There’s no reason why you and I should ever be standing less than five feet apart anyway. I can hear you just fine. And besides, now that you’ve got me going, we all have cell phones. Let’s make it ten feet. Fifteen feet. No way am I ever spending any more money on toothpaste, on toothbrush heads. What a rip-off. Did you know you get the same effects as brushing your teeth by eating an apple? I don’t know, I heard some guy on some bus one time saying that, I think. It doesn’t matter.

And clothes. I’m so sick of getting dressed everyday. Sure we’ll need something in the wintertime. Why can’t we all just where robes or sheets? Why do I spend so much time washing my clothes, making sure my pants are ironed? Why? And I have to wear a tie? Seriously? You’re telling me that, as a species, we’ve all gotten together and decided that to look formal, we’ve got to hang a stupid piece of fabric around our necks? What purpose does it serve? It’s ridiculous.

I’m not wearing anything anymore. Underwear. Socks. I’m so sick of it. Go ahead and lock me up. Indecent exposure? This is how I look naturally. If we were living twenty thousand years ago, this is how we’d all look. If you and I were standing around somewhere that long ago, and you came up to me and said, “Hey Rob, your shirt looks kind of dirty,” I’d say, “What shirt? And what are you talking about? What are these noises you’re making? Nobody’s invented language yet.” And then I’d pick up a giant rock and bash your brains out. Not because I’m violent. I’m not. It’s just that, that’s how things got done back then. Nobody knew any better. Don’t take it personally. Well, as the reader, take the whole dirty shirt thing personally, as in, don’t tell me how to dress, or to get dressed, or to retie my tie, or to get my slacks pressed, or to shave, or to wipe all of that food off of the corners of my mouth, or to brush my teeth, or to get a haircut. I’m done with all of this nonsense.

Greatness achieved?

How does one achieve greatness? Is it something within? Something achieved? Does it have anything to do with writing the word “one” in the third person, like I did in the first sentence? Did I use the term “third person” correctly? I’m not sure if that first sentence was a great sentence. But it was definitely a greater sounding sentence than had I simply written, “How do you achieve greatness?” Because, you? You who? But one? Yes. One. Everyone. Two?

I’m getting distracted. I’m distracting myself from matters of greatness. Perhaps I don’t always achieve greatness. Perhaps I’ve never achieved it. But I always strive for it. Every time I do anything, I’m always thinking, OK Rob, you’ve done it, but was it great? Could it have been done in a greater way?

Like this blog post. I already talked about how I used the word one in that fancy sounding way. Did you notice how I started two sentences with the word perhaps? Perhaps you did. That definitely sounded a lot greater than just writing “maybe,” which is what I would have done had I just spoken it to you. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word perhaps out loud. But maybe I should. Maybe that’s why … I’m sorry, I mean excuse me. Perhaps that’s why nobody’s ever commented on … OK, let me start over. Perhaps that’s why one does not comment on my speaking as being great.

Shall I continue? It’s not as simple as just writing out these great sounding words. Great sounding words do not great writing make. That was a great sentence. I think. Now that I’m reading it back it just kind of sounds like something Yoda might say. But Yoda was a pretty great character. I’m lost.

And just because one strives for greatness, let’s say one tries, but fails. Is there any virtue in trying to achieve what is great? Yes? Well then is virtue great? Yes? OK, so what I’ve basically concluded is that all you have to do, if you want to even just give off the impression of greatness, is to try. And so all I have to do to come across as great, or greatish, is just to make a face of determination, of struggling. Or at least to attempt to make one.

One does not simply act great. Well, I guess you could just act great. Like if you were a really great actor. And then you’re acting like somebody great, in a really great way. Great acting about somebody great. Like Lincoln. Man, do you know that Daniel Day Lewis actually grew out a real Lincoln beard for the Lincoln movie? OK, that was a great beard. That was a great movie. I’m just thinking about that movie, great director, great lead actor, great President, and I’m reevaluating most of everything that I’ve already said about greatness. You know what, just forget it, everything. You want to know about greatness? Go see Lincoln. Go grow out your own great Lincoln beard. Talk in a high voice. If you already talk in a high voice, talk in a higher voice, or, talk in a much lower voice, and when people ask you why you’re talking like that, explain to them that, a hundred and fifty years from now, nobody’s going to remember how you really sounded, and so …

Wait, but there’s all of this recording hardware everywhere, cell phones, Facebook. Everybody’s going to know exactly how you talked. OK, so it’s probably too late for you, but for your kids, raise them, train them so that every time they’re being recorded, on a phone, on TV, have them talk in some ridiculously deep voice, something so far outside how they normally talk. If they grow up to be President, even better. And then a hundred and fifty years after they die, somebody will come around and make a movie about them, and they’ll hire Daniel Day Lewis’s great-grandson to star as the lead, and he’ll talk in their real voice, like outside the recordings, how they really were in real life. And everybody will ask him, “How did you know? What made you think that’s how he really talked?”

And he’ll just be like, “I’m a great actor. If you’re a great actor you just know greatness. Besides, he’s clearly just talking in a really fake deep voice. I just imagined what he would sound like if he were talking regularly.”

Rethinking the holidays

I’ve got a bad case of the post holiday blues. Christmas is over. No more presents left to open. I always used to hide like half of my presents away, saving them for February, March, something to get me through the cold, wet winter. If it got so bad that I couldn’t take the dismal stretch of time expanding outward in front of me, I’d open a Christmas present and let myself bask in a fleeting moment of joy. But the people who give you gifts, they want to see you open them up right away, on Christmas, not two months later, and so people just stopped giving me presents. Or they’d stop wrapping them, just handing me a foot massager or a brand new pair of windshield wiper blades.

Everybody has so much fun at Christmas. The best part is taking off the day before, and depending on what day of the week it falls, you might get the day before that off as well, a four, maybe five day weekend. And then sure, you’ll go back to work the next day, but nobody does any work in between Christmas and New Years. It’s all a big joke. Show up at the office but just kind of hang out and talk about presents and go out for drinks during lunch.

But then it’s New Years and then it’s over. What’s next? Three months of winter. Valentine’s Day isn’t a real holiday. I propose that we move Christmas to the end of February. We could still do the old holiday season, but this would now be exclusively for New Years. Think about it. You just get done with Thanksgiving and a month later you get the Christmas/New Years knock out punch. Let’s spread it out. Let’s give ourselves something to look forward to.

Christmas in February makes so much more sense. Just as everybody would start winding down from the New Years celebrations, you’d start hearing Christmas music and seeing Christmas decorations in the mall. Some of your killjoy friends would complain, stuff like, “I don’t see why there has to be Christmas decorations in December! Can’t we at least wait until January?” and then your secular friends would say stuff like, “There’s nothing in the Bible that says anything about Christmas being in February! That’s not even when Jesus was born!” and your traditionalist friends would pipe in with, “We need to move Christmas back to December! This an outrage!”

As a country, we don’t have that many holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Fourth of July. What else? Sure you get your days off for Labor Day, Presidents Day, a bunch of other whatever days. I think we need to rethink the holidays. We need to have it so no two months go by without a holiday. I’m talking like holiday, holiday. Like two days off from work, at least. And we’ll spread them out so there’s always something relatively close to look forward to.

Just think about the winter months. It’s so depressing, nothing ahead. Easter is kind of losing its secular appeal, if it ever even had any. And it’s on a Sunday, so nobody gets off work.

This fits in with my whole theory that we need a lot less work, as a country. We need a three-day, four-day work week, tops. We should only be working five hours a day at the maximum. And we need lots more holidays. Tons more days off.

And we need to start including the service industry in these holidays. I always hate that whenever ninety percent of the country is off having a good time, there’s always one or two people selling tickets at the movies, or pumping gas. Let’s stagger it out so that they can join in the holiday spirit also.

I thought writing about this would cheer me up, but it didn’t. We’re still in January. It’s really, really cold. I wish I had a week off to look forward to. Remember that stuff I said about the three-day work week? Make it a two-day work week. I promise I’ll shut up and stop complaining if I can just get a two-day work week. I’ll work really hard. I promise. Seriously, those will be some of the most productive ten hours you’ll ever see.