Thursday, April 21, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Confessions of a Seriously Flawed Individual



If you’re a regular reader of this blog I’m sure it’s become quite evident that I’m a far from perfect human being. My judgment is lacking, my opinions are polarizing, and my filter is well, non-existent. I often wonder if there are more people in the world like me or more people in the world like my wife, who is my moral superior in every way imaginable. Below is a list of some of my most recent offensive behaviors (only the ones I’m willing to share). After you read through the list check the key at the bottom of this post to see which category you fit into. Be honest with yourself. For as James A. Garfield once said: “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.”

1) My 11-year old son had a bad case of strep throat last week. Per doctor’s orders he had to stay home from school on both Tuesday and Wednesday. We had an important baseball game on Tuesday night and I made him play anyway, much to the chagrin of my wife. What can I say - he’s one of our best hitters and I really wanted to win. Does this make me a bad Dad or a great coach?

2) Yesterday at the gym I saw a guy I used to work with a couple years back. He was a complete douche and I really didn’t want to talk to him so I pretended not to see him. He noticed me right away and tried to make eye contact several times, but I wouldn’t have it. I kept my head down, made it through my work-out, and got the hell out of there without having to partake in an agonizing conversation. Should I feel guilty or justified? (please note before you decide: I wasn’t the only one who thinks he’s a tool)

3) After the recent daylight savings time change I decided not to update the clock in my car. It’s a new car and I HATE reading owner’s manuals so I decided to wait for the time to change back in October, then the clock would once again be correct. My wife discovered this egregiously apathetic plan and was appalled – she flipped through the manual and had the clock updated in about 10 seconds. She then said I might be the laziest person on the planet.

4) I strongly believe the phrase “happy fat person” is an oxymoron. Look - nobody wants to be fat and the only thing standing in anybody’s way of not being fat is laziness and a lack of will power. I recently shared this philosophy while eating lunch in the company of a fat person and man were they pissed. A push in the right direction or an unnecessary dose of wrong sauce?

5) About a week ago I was at a body shop getting an estimate to fix my car and it struck me. In certain instances there seems to be a very fine line between high profile and low profile professions. For instance the difference between a heart surgeon and an auto mechanic is negligible if you really think about it. One fixes cars while the other fixes bodies (regardless of how much money was spent on their respective educations). I shared this observation with one of the mechanics and he was severely offended – apparently he thought I was trying to demean him with sarcasm (which was absolutely not my intention). I now wonder if this viewpoint shows too much respect to mechanics or too little respect to surgeons?

6) Last week at the airport I saw a dude wearing a turban and secretly hoped he got screened by security. A logical concern on my part or my East County roots rising to the surface yet again? (619 baby)

7) The other day at the mall I witnessed an old lady screaming at one of those pushy kiosk dudes (I hate those greasy bastards) - he apparently tried to rub some European wrinkle cream on her hand without permission. Am I the only one who gets a sick pleasure out of awkward public confrontations? Try as I might I just couldn’t look away until the altercation was completely over. She really let him have it.

8) Yesterday at the grocery store my bill at checkout was $14 and change (I only needed a couple items). I gave the clerk a $20 bill and instead of giving me back a $5 with change he inexplicably handed me back the same $20 I had just given him along with the change. I kept my mouth shut and left the store with $15 in free groceries. Is my inaction in this scenario the same thing as stealing? Speaking of stealing I forgot my head phones for a flight the other day. JetBlue offers $2 headphones at the gate via the honor system. You drop $2 in the box and take out a pair of headphones. All I had was $20’s and there was nobody around to make change, so I pretended to drop money in the box and took out a pair of headphones without paying (don’t judge me – it was a long flight and I really wanted those headphones).

9) The guy sitting next to me on the flight wore an eye patch and it took everything in my power not to say “Aargh, Ahoy Matey!” when he first sat down. Why did my mind go straight to “aargh” instead of empathy for his ailment? I know - I’m such an asshole.

10) Back to stealing. While shopping at the grocery store I let my kids eat doughnuts from the bakery section. By the time we made our way to checkout they had finished the doughnuts (and all evidence had been consumed). I therefore opted not to tell the clerk about the doughnuts (free doughnuts taste so much better than the ones you have to pay for). So I actually made out with about $17 worth of free groceries - not $15. If the wrong person reads this I’m so going straight to jail.

And there you have it – a week in the life of a seriously flawed individual. Check the key below to see how you measure up.

Key:

• If you’ve been guilty of 7 or more of these impertinent behaviors I’ve got some bad news for you - you’re just as twisted as me.

• If you’ve committed 4-6 of these moral infractions look out - you may be on the road to wretchville.

• If you’ve committed 1-3 of these transgressions take heart - there’s still time to save your wayward soul but you must repent immediately.

• If you’ve never been guilty of any of these misdeeds congratulations - you’re officially nominated for Sainthood (along with my better half).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Observations from the Big Apple



I spent last week in New York City with my family for Spring Break. It’d been about a decade since my last visit to NYC and I’d forgotten how great it is. New York in all its splendor is without question one of my absolute favorite places to visit, and it didn’t disappoint on this trip. We had a total blast. That said I couldn’t help but notice how different New York is from my home town in Southern California. What follows (in no particular order of significance) is my list of observations from the Big Apple:

1) As Phil from “The Hangover” put it after Mr. Chow jumped out of the trunk buck naked (exposing his teeny weenie), attacked him violently, and then ran away: “Why was he so MEAN?!” Great line and it could also apply to just about everyone who lives in New York City. Nobody makes eye contact on the streets, nobody smiles while taking your order in restaurants, and nobody but nobody makes small talk on the subway. Case in point I asked some dude if we were on the right train to get to Yankee Stadium and everyone within ear shot looked at me as if I’d shown up for Church without pants. The guy proceeded to get all flustered, not quite sure how to respond to someone initiating an actual conversation, and tersely replied “um, no”. Gee - thanks for the help buddy, guess I’ll figure it out on my own.

2) Has the surgeon general’s warning about smoking being hazardous to your health not reached the good people of New York? No matter where we went in the city we couldn’t go one block without choking on somebody’s second hand smoke. Perhaps since they share an ocean Europe is rubbing off on them? In a word gross.

3) What’s with the Museum of Modern Art? I’m pretty sure I could shit in a plastic bag and pass it off as art at that place. Seriously – there’s some fucked up shit in there. Photographs of naked women posing with dildos, depictions of murder victims, paintings of dudes giving other dudes blow jobs. What the hell? I wish someone would have warned me before I paid to take my kids in there. The 5th floor is great (famous paintings from Van Gogh, Monet, etc.) but the rest of the museum is complete bullshit. Here’s a tip for my fellow tourists: Go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art instead – they only exhibit real art there.

4) Why is the jewelry district such a festering pit when the rest of midtown is so nice? It was the only area in the city where I felt uncomfortable taking my kids. A peculiar mix of big, scary black dudes and strange looking Orthodox Jewish dudes lined both sides of the seedy streets, attempted to coax us into their respective places of business, and had nasty things to say when we declined. Stay classy jewelry district.

5) What is with New York’s love affair with the Yankees? There’s a Yankees clubhouse store on every corner, everyone who works in the city (from Wall Street executives to the guys selling hot dogs in Central Park) proudly dons Yankees gear, and everywhere we went New Yorkers were compelled to talk shit about our Padres and Angels hats (even to my 11-year old son). Um, you do realize you have the highest payroll in baseball (by a large margin) and have only won one championship in the last 10 years, right? Title Town my ass. Plus Jesus hates the Yankees so you’re all going to hell :)

6) I love how easy it is to get a dinner reservation anywhere you want in NYC prior to 8:00 pm. We eat dinner in California around 7:00, but apparently the fine citizens of New York don’t get hungry for dinner until 10:00 pm (my bedtime). But I guess that’s okay because nobody starts working in New York until 10:00 in the morning… slackers.

7) How is the vacancy rate in NYC less than 1% while the unemployment rate is 8.9%, new high rise apartment buildings (with hundreds of units) are going up almost weekly, and rent in NYC is the highest in the nation? I’m no math major but something doesn’t add up.

8) Our lone celebrity sightings for the trip were pretty lame – Keith Richards, who looks like he’s about a hundred years old, and Scott Disick, the dude who’s dating / engaged to (who cares?) Kourtney Kardashian. Who’s a bigger douche than that guy, right?

Conclusion: For all of its faults I absolutely love visiting New York City but there’s no way in hell I’d ever live there. The fine (albeit grumpy) citizens of New York can thank me later.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fun With Haiku



Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry which uses an economy of words (17 sound units – or syllables in English) to paint a multi-tiered picture. Haiku differs from other forms of poetry in that its focus is on "showing" as opposed to "telling", without “telling all”. As haiku master, Matsuo Bashō, once put it, "The haiku that reveals seventy to eighty percent of its subject is good. Those that reveal fifty to sixty percent, we never tire of." What follows are (3) politically inspired haiku’s I recently wrote. After you’ve read each passage use the “telling” information at the bottom of this post to see if you can figure out which subject each haiku pertains to. I know… I’m making you do a lot of thinking for a Friday afternoon – my bad.

Haiku #1:

Clouds form far then near
Tainted springs share their bounty
Darkness engulfs light

Haiku #2:

Ripe fruit arches branch
Sun shines bright on canopy
Moss grows thick beneath

Haiku #3:

Shadows on the plain
Crops harvested by dark of night
Fatted calf suckling


Subject Key:

A) GE not paying taxes / Jeffrey Immelt appointed leader of Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness / political corruption: The following headline recently appeared in the New York Times: “G.E.’s Strategies Let It Avoid Taxes Altogether.” Despite profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — General Electric did not have to pay any U.S. taxes last year. As The Times’s David Kocieniewski reported, “Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore.” G.E. is the nation’s largest corporation. Its chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, is the leader of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Can you say dirty poker? And to think coming into this whole mess Obama was convinced he could rise above it. Absolute power corrupts absolutely (every time).

B) Rich getting richer / socio-economic inequality / maldistribution of wealth in America: There is plenty of economic activity in the U.S., and plenty of wealth. But the folks at the top seem to be reaping all the benefits. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received 100 percent of the average income growth from 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion. The current maldistribution of wealth is just as mind boggling. In 2009, the richest 5 percent of Americans claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent. This inequality and downward mobility is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Translation: if you own a small business better get yo gun cuz lootin’ and riotin’ are imminent.

C) Decision to bomb Libya / dependence on foreign oil / misplaced government priorities: The United States invests in yet another war, this time in Libya, while simultaneously slashing spending on education, laying off firemen and police officers, and generally letting things go to hell in a hand basket here at home. Unemployment is at a historic high while public morale is at a historic low after years of misguided economic policies. Greed, corruption, and a voracious addiction to foreign oil have led us to an era of perpetual war and economic decline. The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities, it seems we’ve lost our way entirely. In other words it’s a complete Charlie Foxtrot and we have big government to thank for it.