Monthly Archives: September 2012

I insist

If you really want the best in life, you have to demand it. You have to insist. People always get timid and make these faces with worried expressions, and they start whining, saying stuff like, “Well … you see … it’s … it’s just that … it’s just that I don’t want to come across as pushy. I don’t want to impose.” And I’m glad that a lot of people are like this, because it leaves more room for people like me to make our demands even louder, to start insisting stronger than ever. And those other people’s worried expressions will crinkle up even more, because they really don’t like to impose, but they don’t like being imposed upon either, nobody does, but being too much of a wimp to do anything about it, they’ll cave just to get you off of their backs.

You’re not going to go anywhere in life without insisting. Whenever I go out to eat, I order my meal like a normal person. But when I see the waiter coming over with my meal, I automatically start shaking my head in disappointment, before I even get a chance to see the dish. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good dish. Everything can be better. Every chef could take just a little bit more time preparing every plate to a higher standard. And that’s what I want. I want the head chef to personally remake me my meal better than ever. Much better. And the chef’s not going to do that unless you reject the first attempt. Unless you mean business. Unless you insist.

I’m not even just talking about sit-down restaurants. I’m talking about any place you can get food. Fast food places. McDonald’s. I’ll order a Big Mac meal and when the cashier hands me the bag, I don’t step to the side, even if there’s a long line of people behind me. Even if the person who is in line behind me automatically starts ordering, assumes that I’m done, just because I have my food. I hold my hand up to that person without even acknowledging them. I tell them to wait a second. I insist.

And then in front of the cashier I start going through the bag of food. I take out the Big Mac, the fries, all of the napkins. Everything that’s inside the bag. And then I open up the Big Mac box. I take the top bun off. I start running my finger through the shredded lettuce, poking around at everything inside. Then I do the same thing with the middle bun. I turn the fry box upside town and start going through all of the fries. I even take the lid off of the Coke and spin my fingers around once or twice.

“Not so fast,” I tell the cashier. At this point, the people behind me switch to other lines, because they know I mean business. And I like it better this way. I hate feeling rushed. The cashier asks me what the problem is. In all honesty, there’s probably nothing wrong. But throughout my whole life, everybody’s always told me that there’s always room for improvement. And when I spend money somewhere, I like to think I’m getting the very best for my dollar. I like to imagine that I’m insisting on the best.

So I complain that the burger isn’t hot enough, that the lettuce isn’t crisp enough, that they sauce isn’t secret enough. I point at the fries. There are usually at least one or two burnt little pieces of potato in there somewhere. If there aren’t, I’ll complain that the fries look too greasy. Or there’s not enough salt. And this Coke, when was the last time the syrup’s been changed? Today? Really? Well did they clean out the syrup hose or did they just change the bag of syrup? What do you mean you don’t know?

And when they finally redo my meal, I insist that they put those “made fresh” stickers on all of my items, indicating to me, to the whole world, that I’m getting the very freshest, that I’ve demanded quality. If they don’t put that sticker on, I make them start all over again. Because, how do I know they didn’t just repackage the same sandwich? Of course they didn’t, my dissection was so thorough they wouldn’t have been able to. But that’s what I’ll say.

Car washes are the best. First of all, I refuse to get out of the car when it goes through the machine. I remember when I was a little kid, you always got to stay in the car. But lately I feel like they always make you get out. So I insist on staying in. Usually nobody’s up for an argument, so they just say whatever and let me go through. It’s so cool. The stuff sprays out onto the windows. And then the big strips of cleaning stuff start going up and down on the windshield. It’s exciting.

And then afterwards those guys at the end start polishing the whole thing down with towels. And then when they finish they stand around with their hands out for a tip. And that’s when I start insisting. I insist that the machine isn’t running properly, that my car usually comes out much cleaner. I start demanding to speak to the manager, to see the machine’s permits, asking when the last time this whole place has been serviced. I always get another run through. Every time. These guys don’t want you hanging around complaining all day, insisting. They’ve got a long line of cars waiting to go through. You just insist long enough and you get another ride. It’s great.

I like to go in the backseat this time and pretend like I’m prisoner on a pirate ship, and there’s a storm, but I have this plan to take control of the ship while the crew is busy battling the storm, and then right as the car emerges from the carwash, I like to fight my way to the driver’s seat and pretend like I steered the pirate ship straight out of the storm. And I get out of the car and I imagine that all of the people wiping down the car are the pirates, and that they’ve accepted me as their new captain, and I start insisting that they check for barnacles under the hood. And they look at me funny, because it’s really just an imaginary story, all in my head, but whatever, I don’t care if anybody’s looking at me funny, I’m having a great time, this pirate ship scenario is so much fun, and I’m serious here, pop open the hood and scrub. I’m serious here matey. I insist.

Predicting the iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 is set to be announced today. When I say today, I mean two weeks ago. But I write these things in advance, and by the time this blog post goes up, right now, it’ll already have been old news. People definitely have them already. I’m sure there were lines of people gathering outside of Apple stores around the country, people spending actual days out of their lives making absolutely sure that they could be granted the privilege of forking over hundreds of dollars for a product, probably only marginally cooler than last year’s model, that I could get just as easily by walking into any cell phone store the next day. These things never sell out.

But to have it first. That’s the dream right? Even if it’s just twelve hours, that’s twelve hours of getting to walk around town with an iPhone 5, making everyone using an iPhone 4S, or worse, and iPhone 4, or even worse, an iPhone 3GS, or even much, much, much, worse, some sort of an Android phone, feel like the complete losers that they know they already are.

But this isn’t about making fun of those losers without the iPhone 5. This is about me predicting all of the cool new features the iPhone 5 is going to have. I’m calling them right here, and like I said, I’m writing this before the announcement, so when I naturally call everything correctly, everyone is going to be like, “Yeah right Rob. I don’t believe you for a second. You probably wrote this after the announcement.” Whatever. Haters gonna hate, right?

My first prediction involves the screen. Specifically, instead of having a screen on one side, and a glass coating on the other side, the new iPhone is going to have a screen on one side, and another screen on the other side. That’s right, two screens. It’s going to be so cool. When you’re walking around with your new phone, you’ll be able to program all sorts of cool stuff to be displayed on the screen facing the rest of the world.

Like you could have the screen be an image of the iPhone home screen. And could you walk around going, “Hello? Hello?” really loudly. And some passerby might come up to you and say, “Hey, buddy, I think you’re holding your iPhone backwards,” and then you can just flip it around, revealing the other screen, and you can say something like, “Gotcha!” and that person will instantly realize that you’re using the iPhone 5. Classic. And then that person will take out their own much inferior phone, and they’ll look at it, unlock the touch screen, and then flip it around, just imagining what it would be like to have two screens, but their imagination isn’t capable of doing it, nobody’s is really, so they’ll just keep standing there, flipping it back and forth, not able to comprehend what it must be like for you, with your iPhone 5, two screens, playing pranks on random strangers.

And that’s only one possible application of the second screen. You could make the other side look like a picture of your ear. So that way people would think that it’s just a piece of glass, like looking right through the phone to your ear. They’re going to call it chameleon mode. It’s going to be nuts. Or, you could make it look like a picture of your brain, and people would say, “Whoa! I can totally see right through to your brain!” That’s going to be sick.

But the only problem is going to be the edges of the phone, the metal border. Honestly, what’s the point of having two screens if you have to look at a stupid piece of metal holding them together? That’s why on the iPhone 5, the border is going to be a screen also. It’ll be really thin, obviously, but it’ll be an actual screen. And there’s no limit to what you’ll be able to do with this wraparound screen. You could have a line of text scrolling around the edge, like a marquee, like if you’re on the phone and somebody walks up to you to try to talk, you could just run a loop of text, something like, “Uh, can’t you see that I’m on my iPhone 5?” And they’ll read it and get the message, literally.

But the iPhone, well, sometimes it’s a little two-dimensional, don’t you think? Haven’t you ever seen those phones that open up, and inside there’s like a keyboard or something? Well, I’m pretty sure the iPhone 5 is going to open up in the middle, but keyboards are so primitive. Inside there are going to be two more screens. So you’ll really have four screens. Four and a quarter screens if you count the screen that wraps around the outside of the phone.

Why four screens? Isn’t it obvious? How many times do you see people who have dropped their phones, and the whole screen shatters and splinters? It still works, but it’s really ugly and broken looking. With four screens, your iPhone should theoretically last four times as long. All you have to do is flip one of the halves inside out.

But it gets even better. The two halves can actually separate into two thinner independent phones. So if you’re really bored, all you have to do is find twenty-six other people, get them together, and you can all run this app where each half becomes one card in a deck. That way you can all start playing card games. Well, some of you can take turns playing card games. I don’t know any twenty-six person card games. But, bonus, if you find hundreds of people with iPod Nanos, you can program each Nano to look like a poker chip, and you can use those to gamble.

Yeah, you’re probably reading this and thinking that there’s no way that I called it all. But I did. I’m telling you, they’re not launching the iPhone 5 until later today. I’ve written this before, but it’s worth repeating, that right after Steve Jobs died, his genius energy must have been transferred by the universe into me, because there has to be one genius inventor alive at all times, and I’ve been selected, because I totally called it.

Space vacation

Interplanetary travel would be so cool. But the ship would have to be really big, big enough that I’d forget that I’m on a spaceship. And it would have to be very comfortable. And I’d want the option to turn on some sort of artificial gravity, because I hate the idea that astronauts lose all of their bone density and muscle mass while floating weightlessly in zero g. It’s like, you finally get to the other planet, but you can’t enjoy it because you’re too weak. And there might be a threat to deal with. Aliens. Space volcanoes. And what are you going to do, ask them not to chase you so fast because your body is still recovering from all of that interplanetary travel? Also, why do they call US space explorers astronauts while the Russians are cosmonauts? It doesn’t really make any sense. It’s the same job, right?

There was some article in the newspaper about space tourism, about how it’s right around the corner, for the super rich anyway. For a ridiculous amount of money you can get in some tiny vehicle and enter the earth’s orbit. Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t sound like any fun at all, even if I had the money. Why would you want to be one of the first space tourists? I would want to be like the two thousandth. Everybody else can go first and make sure everything is safe. I can’t imagine what it was like to be one of the first passengers on a commercial airline. There’s no way I would have done that. There were so many more crashes than there are today. Plus, these current space vehicles seem pretty rudimentary, especially compared to what I’m used to when thinking about space travel. Sure that stuff’s all science fiction, but it has to be where we’re headed. Look at the cell phone. Star Trek called that in the 1960s.

But here’s another thing. I’ve heard stuff about orbital hotels. About trips where you could spend a week on the space station. Why would you want to spend a whole week on the space station? Hasn’t anybody seen any pictures of the inside of that thing? It looks really uncomfortable, more claustrophobic even than the Alien movies. And then you get there, and you’re supposed to be on vacation, right? When I’m on vacation, I like to eat really nice meals. In space I think you’re only allowed to eat freeze dried supplements. And who’s serving you these meals, the astronauts? Don’t you think they have more important things to do than serving you snacks? And then entertainment. Are you supposed to just watch the scientists do their analysis and experiments? That would be cool for maybe five seconds, and only if some really entertaining personality like Bill Nye or Neil DeGrasse Tyson were explaining everything to me in a way that wouldn’t be super boring. And who’s going to pay for their tickets? You guessed it, me. I doubt they let you drink, another vacation staple. And then there’s the whole issue of taking a shower or even just going to the bathroom. I’m sorry, but that’s got to be gross without gravity.

No, the kind of interplanetary space adventure I’m interested in is something a lot more comfortable. I want to be able to walk down giant space halls and look out of giant space windows and see sweeping space views of the galaxy. I want food replicators to instantly materialize any type of food or drink that I wish. I want to be wearing really cool futuristic outfits, like silvery metallic suits that are padded on the inside with layers of cashmere.

And when I get to whatever planet I’m travelling to, I don’t want to be a pioneer, I want a thriving space colony to already have been established. And I’ll get there and the sky will be purple instead of blue and the grass will be, well, I guess the grass could still be green, but maybe it will be like a deep forest green instead of just a regular green. And the gravity will be a lot less so I’ll be able to jump really long distances and slam dunk and do all of these crazy gymnastics that I’d never be able to do on Earth. That’s a vacation I’d book. All these current space vacations seem like a huge rip-off.

I’m the nicest guy in the world

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I take that phrase to heart. Whenever I’m with a group of people and I’m not being addressed directly, I think to myself, what the hell? You can’t think of something nice to say about me? Not one thing? It doesn’t have to be anything over the top. Hey Rob, nice pants. Thanks, I just took them right out of the dryer. That wasn’t so hard. I’m always saying nice things to people. Hey, nice haircut. What a great story. Of course I like that sweater you got me for Christmas. I like it so much I almost hardly ever wear it, because it’s one of my most prized possessions, and I don’t want to risk spilling anything on it.

But sometimes I take it a step further. Like maybe if you’re not saying anything to me, not only do you not have anything nice to say, but maybe your head is filled with all of these terrible things you wish you could be saying to me, but you’re holding it all in, because, well, your parents always used to say to you, “If you don’t have anything nice to say …”

So I hate it when I run into people and I’m like, “Hey what’s up? Great to see you.” See? That’s something nice that I just said, that it’s great to see you. And that person will just be like, “Hey? What’s up?” I’m sorry, but what’s your problem? What’s going through your head? Are you pissed at me? Am I bothering you somehow?

And I want to get all up in that person’s face and tell them what I really think about them. Looking at me funny, not saying anything nice to me. Well you know what? I think you’re really ugly. And your car’s a piece of shit. And all that stuff about great to see you? Well, even if it was great to see you, it’s definitely not great to see you anymore. And I want to tell you that. But it’s not nice. So I don’t say anything.

But that’s not nice either. So I tell you that I like your jacket. And you still don’t say anything. So I say that it’s great to see you again. I know, I already said that. But what else am I supposed to say? Nice shirt? I can’t go from jacket right to shirt. It’s too much of an emphasis on appearance. On clothing. Nice sneakers.

And now it’s just blatantly obvious, to me anyway, that I’m trying to draw something out of you, something nice, about me. Something nice that you can say about me, instead of just standing there, not saying anything. You can’t even pretend can you? What’s your problem?

I’m getting angry. And that’s not going to draw out any compliments. I go inside, inside my head. I go into my brain where I keep a repository of nice things that people have said to me, about me. I find a memory, one time I’m playing baseball, and it’s my turn up, and I had struck out like the previous six at-bats, so finally I get a piece of the ball, there’s a clink. It’s a grounder, it has almost no momentum. It stops before it even rolls to the pitcher. He actually has to leave the pitcher’s mound, to run up to the ball to grab it before he throws it to first. It was close. I thought I was safe. But I got called out. I walk back to the dugout and one of my teammates says to me, “Hey Rob, nice hit.”

And that was a nice thing to say. But it’s not making me feel better. Something’s wrong, something with this memory doesn’t add up. And then it hits me all at once, that that guy wasn’t really being nice, he was being sarcastic. I had just naturally thought that, since I hadn’t even come close to hitting the ball before, and now that I at least hit it, not the best hit, but a hit nonetheless, I thought it was a genuinely nice thing to say. But it wasn’t. That guy shouldn’t have said anything at all. Or he should have said, nice try. Or he should’ve said nice hit, but he should have meant it, like, really meant it. That sarcastic prick. I couldn’t see the sarcasm immediately, but now I can, and I’m trying to use this memory to calm me down, and it’s not working, and I’m not saying anything right now, and that’s bad, because if you’re not saying anything, it’s because you’ve got nothing nice to say, and I’m the nicest guy ever, much nicer than you. I’ve complimented you like twelve times already and you’re just staring at me, not saying anything, slowly backing away, turning around, making a run for it.

Something about time capsules

I read in the paper the other day about how during the New York City World’s Fair in 1965, the planners made this time capsule, a long metal tube of stuff that got buried underground, not to be opened for five thousand years. Just think about that, five thousand years. It shows you how people living back in the sixties had such promising hopes for humanity, that confidence that we’d all still be around to open up a box of buried treasure five thousand years from now.

If you took a survey of people around today, asked them, “Hey, what do you think it’s going to be like five thousand years from now?” I’d guarantee you’d get stories about post-apocalypse, about burnt out nuclear wastelands, about water shortages and ozone shortages and sentient computer systems making human life unlivable. But the sixties weren’t that long ago. Maybe these national moods are cyclical, like we’re all just really jaded and cynical now, but maybe someday we’ll all snap out of it, start thinking towards the future again.

But five thousand years? Geez, I can’t even think forward in time five thousand second. Or five hundred even. All right, maybe I can picture five hundred seconds. I’m probably still sitting at this table eating snacks. But that’s not really important.

What is important is, what are the people five thousand years going to do with a bunch of junk from 1965? There are all sorts of lame stuff in there. A pack of Camel cigarettes, for example. Assuming that the whole pack hasn’t completely disintegrated, what are a bunch of future people going to do with a pack of cigarettes? Are they going to start smoking? I’m assuming that smoking won’t exist five thousand years from now, and the whole concept will seem really primitive.

But maybe some hotshot future archeologist will think he’s all cool and funny and he’ll light one up. And he’ll cough and everyone will laugh, but it’s just like all of our teachers told us growing up. All you have to do is smoke one cigarette and you’ll be hooked for life. So this scientist is going to be addicted. But cigarettes won’t exist anymore. So he’ll dedicate his life to scouring the planet for all of the other time capsules buried during the 20th century, hoping, praying that some other of his ancestors had the idea to bury more cigarettes.

And he’ll run into so much bureaucratic red tape. He’ll find time capsules that aren’t scheduled to be opened for another three hundred years or four hundred years. But he knows that there has to be another pack of cigarettes down there somewhere. And he’ll sneak onto the time capsule grounds late at night and spend hours digging, hacking away at all of the cement that his stupid ancestors used to bury it good and tight. And he’ll be ejected from the society of future archeologists when he gets caught, just looking for a smoke.

What would we put into a time capsule now? Back then they buried all of this microfilm and other obsolete mediums for transmitting information. When that gets discovered in the future, they’re all going to be like, “What’s all of this tape? What a bunch of garbage. What a bunch of idiots we all were back then.” So we should bury USB drives. Those things have to last forever, right?

What about the Internet? Maybe we should make a time capsule with an onboard computer and an Internet connection, that way we can make changes and update everything now and then, keep an eye on things. Maybe we could just make a virtual time capsule, some web site that we’ll make now but that’s password protected, programmed not to open itself up until five thousand years from now. Nah, that sounds pretty lame. Most virtual stuff is pretty lame. What would you rather have, a Big Mac or a virtual Big Mac?

One time I made a time capsule when I was a little kid. It was a shoebox, and I put some comics in there and some Starburst and five bucks. But I don’t think I buried it deep enough, and some raccoons must have smelled the Starburst and started digging, because the next day my little brother came in the house all happy that he found a five dollar bill in the middle of this pile of shredded garbage in the backyard. I was so pissed.