Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fear of Latitudes

Among the myriad things I teach to our many future generations, the lost art of geography is the one I cherish most. However, this last year, as I was showing my pupils where Barrow, Alaska and McMurdo Station were, I was overcome with an inexplicable fear. It made me think, and when I think I get questiony, and when I get questiony I like to turn to Christian for answers.

Pat:  How far north (or south, I suppose) have you been, Christian?

Christian: North-wise it’s Cordova, Alaska. South-wise Canberra, Australia.  

Pat:  I ask because I was reminded recently, as I thought about a road trip this summer to visit my brother-in-law in northern Montana, of my fear of latitudes. Do you ever get that?

Christian: No. In fact I love latitudes. The farther away the better. What exactly is it about them that frightens you? I also seem to recall you having issues with crossing over county lines while riding in a car. Is it related to that?

Pat:  No...different source of anxiety altogether. The county thing stems, I think, from years watching The Dukes of Hazzard. Remember how the county lines seemed to be an instant reprieve from the danged oppression of Boss Hogg and Roscoe P. Coltrane? I guess I thought that meant that county lines were some sort of justice-warp, and I just didn’t want to inadvertently end up on the wrong side of justice.

Latitudes? I don’t know...I just get weird when I feel like I’m getting too far north. Never crossed the equator, but I imagine I’d feel the same if I inched towards the Tierra del Fuego or the Cape of Good Hope. There’s something inherently comforting about knowing I’m in the relative middle of the globe. Yes, I know an orb has many middles. And I know I live on the earth, not on a globe. North scares me, that’s all.

Christian: So what I’m hearing is that I totally won on who has travelled the farthest north and south!  In your face you lati-pansy!  

But I want to help. Is the anxiety triggered more from being too far away from the equator or too far away from your home vertically (globe-wise)? Perhaps you have a phobia of falling off the earth? That happened to a friend of mine once. Although, he was a fictional character in a movie at the time. Actually now that I think about it, it wasn’t a friend of mine, it was David Bowie. And he fell to Earth, not off. Anyways, are you cured now?

Pat:  I don’t remember that part of Labyrinth. Was Jennifer Connelly in that scene?

Yes, okay, you win (so what!?!), and thanks, I suppose, for the willing counsel. It’s not about falling off. I gave up my membership to the flat earth society-- http://theflatearthsociety.org/cms/ for those interested-- years ago (STILL not convinced though!).

But you are onto something with the pop-culture analogy. I think my fear is more akin to Gulliver’s Travels. It’s like the further north you go, the smaller the trees and plants become, and I think the people too. So you start feeling a bit like Gulliver, with the equator representing Brobdignag and the northern latitudes Lilliput. It’s just WEIRD. Okay, I know that people near the equator aren’t all giants, but they WOULD be if it wasn’t for that damn European colonialism. Giants, I tell you!

I think this may just be my special irrational fear, like my wife’s irrational fear of eels and my sister’s irrational fear of packs of feral dogs on the streets of Bucharest, Romania. I mean, she only got harassed by them three times...c’mon!

Christian:  I think you’re thinking of the movie The Prestige where Bowie plays Nikola Tesla.  It was Scarlett Johansson that was in that not Jennifer Connelly.

I’m glad to hear your issues are more based in the fear of becoming a giant humanoid than falling off the earth. Because that would have been ridiculous. Although I think I’m having a hard time relating. The only things that I fear are drowning and being poisoned by my own countrymen. Totally reasonable. Does it help to know that when I traveled farther north than you have ever been- to the state of Alaska- I remained in proper proportion, size-wise, to the humans that lived there?  

Side note:  I was once attacked by a vicious attacking eel. And when I say attacked I mean it swam off when I got too close to it. Harrowing!

Side side note:  In the attacking eel story above, I should have made it clear that I was snorkeling at the time. Thank you.

Addendum to the Side side note: Underwater.

Pat:  I’m not sure you can help on this one, buddy. Not for lack of trying, mind you, but just ‘cause I think I’m weird on this issue. I know I wouldn’t shrink if I went north continually (maybe if I went south, but not north), but I just don’t see the point in doing so. Why stray too far from the middle? Maybe it has to do with that sign on I-5 as you pass through Salem: 45th Parallel--you are halfway between the equator and the north pole. I’ve seen that thing so many times that maybe it has given me some sort of fixation with latitudes, and since you don’t see signs indicating any other parallel, I just convinced myself at an early age that good ole’ “45” MEANT something.

I don’t know. I DO know that eels are scary though. Did you ever go to the rock slide at Triangle Lake? Word had it the pool at the bottom was chock full of eels, just waiting to...do whatever it is eels do. Swim up your shorts, I guess. Anyways, I always got out of that pond post haste, if you know what I mean.

I just reflected on the above narratives, and realized that Jennifer Connelly is MUCH more pleasing to think about than eels or high latitudes. I’m going to end this one on that image.

Christian:  You’re right. Until our next session, let’s just end on a nice pleasing image of Jennifer Connelly.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Social Etiquette: Half-and-Half

I know you’re not a drinker of the morning elixir, Christian, but I need your input to help reconcile a pervasive internal struggle.

I try to move through life as an upstanding citizen, the kind of person I’d like to go with to a voting booth or get to know in a rental hot tub. That said, I had a very troubling thought run through my mind the other morning:  

Moving sleepily towards the morning joe, I realized that we were completely out of half-and-half. It’s important to note that I have found myself in such situations before, and have supplemented with 2%, almond or soy milk, ice cream, and mascarpone cheese*, so I’m not afraid of creative problem solving. But half-and-half just does it for me in ways that other things can’t, so I decided to take my problem elsewhere.

So I took myself to the local coffee-torium. Got my coffee. Answered “yes” to the question of whether I’d like room. And then it hit, like a bolt of devious and criminal insight-- I could take the extra cup they gave me to prevent scalding, and fill it up to the brim with the complimentary half-and-half, pop a lid on it and walk out! Immediate and long-term problems solved!

So here’s my query: Is such action wrong?

*assessment of each substitute, in respective order: Too thin. Not right. YUMMY! Not a good idea as cheese is not a suitable replacement for a liquid dairy product.

Christian:  You coffee people are like foreigners to me. “Answered “yes” to the question of whether I’d like room”. What does that mean? What language are you speaking?

Anyhoo, yes, this is quite a pickle of a conundrum of an ethical dilemma. I think it depends on a few factors:

- How often do you frequent the establishment? Have you given them a lot of money over the years? Tipped well? Do they kind of owe you one? Then yes, steal away!

- Is this a local independent business that is fighting just to stay afloat? Then you are an omnipresent bastard.  

- Are they a major corporate chain that donate money to questionable organizations or political parties and treat their employees poorly? If so, in addition to taking the half-and-half you should have also stolen some scones and the majority of artwork hanging from the walls.

- Was there so much half-and-half that odds are a lot of it would have ended up getting thrown out and wasted if you hadn’t taken some? Then you sir, are a hero.

- What is half-and-half?

Like most ethical quandaries, it’s all in the details.

Pat:  Alright, let me see if I can answer all of your questions..

1.  “Answered “yes” to the question of whether I’d like room”- that is a statement written and spoken in common English. I’m troubled that you did not recognize it as such. I can’t do this blog in another language, if you’re thinking of switching on me, or if you aren’t yet proficiently fluent in English. My Japanese has gone way downhill and I have NO idea how to type those characters.

2.  The particular establishment to which I was referring is one that I don’t frequent often...only when I’m in a real hurry or when I cannot resist the flavor of one of their so-gross-its-delicious sausage and egg breakfast muffins. Its name rhymes with “tarfucks”. I have tipped, lightly. The kind when something costs $1.80 and you toss the two dimes in the jar like it will totally make their day. I know...it’s really kinda’ lame. But this tip thing has got to stop somewhere!

3.  No, it’s not a local, small micro-roastery shop owned by romantic partners who are also in a band together. My cheapness at those places does not extend beyond taking advantage of their punch cards. But it takes, like, three years to get a free drink with the infrequency of my visits.

4.  Yes, it is one of those big corporate places (see:  “tarfucks”). The scones are hard to steal as they’re behind a glass case. And they’re kinda’ dry, even for scones.

The art was bolted to the wall. I’m not going to take your advice anymore, because it was really awkward when it wouldn’t come down and I was struggling to make my getaway. I live in the same neighborhood as these people, man. You can’t tell me to go do things like that!

5.  I don’t know how much was left. I could have stayed and watched the next group of customers, but in that time I could have gone to the store and gotten a pint of half-and-half. The joy would have been gone.

You asked too many questions all at once...I forgot what we were originally talking about. Why don’t you drink coffee?

Christian:  I mostly don’t drink coffee because of its airport runway-type taste. Other than that, I have no problems with it. Although judging by the topic of this post and your actions, it does seem to lend itself to thieves.

As for your moral dilemma. Based on your answers I’m going to say that you are probably mostly ethically OK with taking the half-and-half, but I wouldn’t make a regular routine out of it -- that would be just plain tacky. The fact that it’s a major corporation (and don’t worry I know who “tarfucks” is code for. Let’s just say I McKnow that McChain well. wink. wink.), will allow you to consciously get away with a lot, despite your pathetic attempt at tipping. These companies -- your Microsofts, your Exxons, your Unicefs -- are all the same. They’re money grubbing corporations, that care more about obtaining profit and power than letting you play on their softball team only because you were never one of their employees and you made a tremendous mess at their last Christmas party.

So yes, fill up with half-and-half. The total cost of it is like a spec of dust on top of ant, who suffers from dwarfism, that has found its way into an elephant fashion show where...  umm... ok that metaphor got away from me. What I’m trying to say is that taking the half-and-half isn’t going to begin to scratch at the company's total profits so there is no need to worry that they won’t be able to pay their employee’s salaries or afford their immaculate softball uniforms. Whether or not you take the half-and-half, they are going to be just fine.

Pat:  Thanks. That helps. Though, it’s a lot easier to talk about and rationalize than to actually walk in, ask for an extra cup, fill it to the brim with liquid fat as all the paying customers watch me, cap it and walk out. I don’t know if I have the balls, man.

Have you tasted an airport runway? That sounds like it could be a fancy descriptor for how coffee tastes, like wine is “oaky” or beer is “crisp”. You should try selling that idea to Tarfucks.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gleek: Unnecessary Monkey?

(Note: It was brought to our attention by one of our wiveseditors that the term Gleek is used to describe fans of that TV show Glee. It should be clear that this post has nothing to do with that show and rest assured we aren’t just mentioning this so that our post will hopefully show up higher in google key word searches due to the popularity of the hit FOX TV Show Glee starring Mathew Morrison, Lea Michelle, Jane Lynch, Harry Potter, Justin Bieber, iphone, celebrity sex tape, free porn).

The following discussion started after Pat noticed that my user name for google docs was Wondertwinpowers. For those who don’t know, Gleek was the monkey that accompanied the Wonder Twins. If you don’t know who the Wonder Twins are you need to read this post, post haste - which I guess you are already doing, so... Good job!

Pat: Can I be Jana? Or Gleek, the unnecessary monkey?

Christian: Unnecessary? He’s the Ringo Starr of the Wonder Twins. Cute, charming, and has a constant look of not knowing what’s going on. Without him, the Wonder Twins would just be another pair of fraternal twins with inconvenient and oddly random super powers. He’s the glue holding this horse together. By the way it’s spelled Jayna (how embarrassing).

Pat: Really? Do I want to know how you knew the correct spelling of the sister of the duo? Were you born on Exxor or something?! (<---Ooooh!  Beat that one, comic geek!)

Rather than argue his status, I will ask you simply to point out any redeeming actions Gleek offered. My recollection was simply that he got in the way and occasionally did something-- likely by accident-- with his tail to foil the foe.

Christian:  First off, I totally did not have to Google™ Exxor to know it’s the planet the wonder twins are from. Duh. I also didn’t need to read Wikipedia™ to remember that Gleek’s other redeeming action was to assist the twins in their traveling arrangements. When it was time to go on the move, Jayna would transform into a large bird of some sorts while Zan (the brother twin. Did you know that hot shot?) would take the form of crime fighting tap water while jumping into a bucket. Gleek would then carry this bucket of Zan while riding Jayna. So basically Gleek was their designated bucket carrier. Kind of like a bell hop.

In your face!

Pat: Imagine if Batman had a small furry rodent whose sole purpose was to carry around his toolbelt or hold open the door of his Batmobile (come to think of it, that sounds awfully close to Alfred...oh well). Would that warrant the naming and inclusion of an entirely new superhero, complete with it’s own uniform? I think not. Thus, I contend that Gleek be relegated to the status of C-level sidekick at best.

Did I know the name of the brother twin? Do I have to go into detail about how conflicted I was in high school when dating someone of the same name but of a different gender? I wondered if it meant I had latent homoaliensexual Exxorian tendencies. Finally got over it, after many years of reflection and therapy. Thanks for digging up those ghosts for me.

Christian: Why doesn’t Zan just take the form of a bucket made of ice since he can turn into anything made of ice, including combustible engines? Why doesn’t he just turn into a hurricane and fly along side Jayna? How the hell can a combustible engine made of ice even work? These are all valid questions. But so is why has firework technology barely advanced over the past thirty years, but we’ll probably never know the answer to that either. What I’m getting at is that just because we don’t fully understand Gleek doesn’t mean he should be cast off as a C-level super friend. He’s not Aquaman.    

By the way that makes sense about you in high school. It explains why you incessantly talked about wanting to visit Exxor when you were older. At the time, I just assumed Exxor was some Eastern European country.

Pat: Agreed, Zan’s morphing tendencies were a bit baffling, and you nailed the one that always confused me-- the ice jet. Seems like three seconds after take-off it should have melted itself. But Jayna wasn’t off the hook...she tended to turn into a large ape to ride in the jet. You’d think they would consider weight and aerodynamicism, and if they were in a true hurry to help fight evil, she might have turned into a feather-weight marmoset or something. Hmm...

Sounds like we may not be in disagreement here. Sounds also like, in trying to one up each other with our long-standing (or recently Googled™) history of childhood “heroes”, we may have inched dangerously close to ΓΌbergeek status.

Fireworks, huh? I haven’t really thought much about them, truth be told, except for the lingering question I have felt every Fourth of July since the kids were of match-striking or punk-wielding age:  In what way(s) is blowing shit up around young kids, and encouraging them to enjoy it and do the same, a good idea?

And what’s up with Aquaman? You’re not going to start dissing him now, are you? Dude communed with animals...that’s badass AND Buddhistly cool. Don’t fuck with Aquaman, man!

Christian: Ok, I agree. We should probably simmer down before reaching ubergeekness. But if you think Aquaman is a badass then your head is a few super friends shy of a Justice League.

Pat:  Oh, nice try tricking me into giving you the last word on Aquaman, poncho! Do you know of many other kings who give up their kingdoms to fight global injustice? Alright, technically Atlantis collapsed so he really had nothing else to do, but still, he could have put it above him. Also, given our current salmon crisis, don’t you think it might be nice if someone like Aquaman talked the fish into repopulating our watershed? Hmm?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Running vs. Walking vs. Sleeping

So I have recently started running in attempt to be healthy. After I finish I usually feel nauseous, have a headache and my lungs and stomach hurt. Is this what people call the "runner's high"? If so, it's grossly misnamed. Actually, there was one time where I did feel a bit of a high, but that might of been from all the hallucinogens I had done beforehand.

It’s probably more accurate to say that I have recently started running and also have recently started quitting running. At first I was pretty good about it. I would head out early in the morning three to four times a week. I then started to replace running with some brisk walking which eventually got replaced with simple stretching which has now been replaced with sleeping.

Pat on the other hand came out of the womb running with headband and all, so it is up to him to convince me to continue. Pat?

Pat: I still have that first headband. Little small, now...mostly wear it on my wrist. Actually, friend, you have the story wrong. Running and I began our steady relationship in the year 1986, as my father bet me that he could quit smoking before I could lose the 20 pounds that my 5’4” frame desperately needed to shed. If only I had known that his motivational trickery would be the beginning of a 24 year long tumultuous affair!

Yeah, that feeling you describe so eloquently is indeed the sure-fire sign that your body is enjoying the exertion you are forcing upon it. That pain, my friend, is the first sign of fitness, and it only gets better. Agonizing sideaches, painful-to-the-touch shin splints, lactic acid emergency bathroom runs...all evidence that your body is on it’s way up!

I’m hesitant to say so, but running is kind of another form of mowing the lawn. Do you know what I get done on my runs? It’s crazy! I listen to all those recently pirated albums I’ve been meaning to get to, I advance my knowledge of trivial minutiae via “This American Life”, “Radiolab” and “Stuff You Should Know” podcasts, I get beer at Plaid Pantry, I scope out the neighborhood for surprise real-estate deals, and I perform good deeds like scaring squirrels out of the road. All in the space of a 30-60 minute run. And then I get home too tired to do anything of value for my family (but at least I picked up that beer). How can you not be sold on that?

Christian: Wait... it continues to be painful? Then why do you, and other people for that matter, get so into it and enjoy it so much? Does having me continually kick you in the groin also sound like fun to you?  

As for all those things you said you get done while running. I can accomplish those too by driving to the store to get the beer and then parking in my driveway for 25-55 mins while drinking it. Afterwards I’m pain free and intoxicated enough to really lay down some stellar parenting.

Pat:  Well...it’s not that it continues to be painful, it’s just that the pain becomes relative, and, perhaps like a budding masochist, you begin to kind of enjoy it. Those aching muscles the day after a long run...joyous! That nausea after pushing yourself up a hill...invaluable! That sweat dripping slowly down your forehead and right into your eyeball, creating a sting unlike anything you’ve felt before...immeasurably beautiful! “Pain” becomes a nice word, actually. That, my friend, is how we in the club convince ourselves that we’re doing the right thing by running.

I’ve never thought about your proposition regarding the car, the convenience store and the beer. Sounds damn tempting enough to prompt a lifestyle change. However, much as I’m usually slow to recognize the more pathetic elements in life...isn’t that scenario just a wee bit...sad?

Christian:  Sad schmad, it’s easy and pain free (just like my shampoo!).

You do have a good point about the day after “good” pain. I do like the feeling of sore muscles after a good work out. It does somehow make me feel healthy. And it allows me to then eat a whole log of beefstick and port wine cheese without the guilt! (That reminds me, are Hickory Farms still around? Hopefully yes.) The thing with running though is that I can completely handle the burning aching muscles etc. It’s the out of breath part that I dread. It’s like what someone who has never smoked imagines quitting smoking must be like.

What about brisk walking? I heard that brisk walking is actually better for you than running due to fat burning slower than sugar and math or something. Somewhere at some point someone told me this so it must be true. Brisk walking I can handle. Plus I really like the word brisk.

Pat:  Healthwise, brisk walking does for you pretty much what running does, just slower. It just makes you look like a wiener. I would pay good money, though, to see you “brisk walking” in a slick shiny Puma™ health suit!

Christian: I think you misspelled “winner”. And thank you. I guess brisk walking does make me look like a winner. As for wearing a “health suit”, I don’t think so. In my experience anything with the word “health” in front of it usually turns out to be disappointing.

Just to make sure we are on the same page here, when we say brisk walking we aren’t talking about those speed walker types that swivel their hips about and chug their arms with ridiculous might, are we? Those guys look like weenies. When I say brisk walking I mean walking at a moderate pace with the occasional stopping to pet neighborhood cats. If this is just as healthy as running but slower, then I’m in no hurry.

Pat:  I should acknowledge that in a moment I will be talking totally out of my ass, without any background or otherwise credible knowledge to speak of other than hearsay and ideas that I have thought of myself, and then delusionally attributed to someone else, real or fictional.

Yes, I believe that walking amounts to roughly the same health benefits as running, provided you walk an equitable distance. Walking an equitable time does not result in the same...results. In simpler terms, 30 minutes of running is not the same as 30 minutes of walking. However, 10 miles of running (which, by the way, is about what I can do in 30 minutes) IS the same as 10 miles of walking. Kind of like that lame elementary school joke that used to get pulled on me:

Thug:  “Hey Pat, which is heavier--10 pounds of rocks or 10 pounds of feathers?”

Pat:  “Duh! Everyone knows it’s the rocks. WAIT, no...”

Thug:  “Hah! You’re so stupid...you thought rocks were heavier than feathers! Sucker!”

Idiots. Anyway...I think if you’re willing to put in the distance, your body should respond the same. But, c’mon, walking is just lame. Running does the same thing but faster, and you get to wear cool slinky shorts and tank tops. What would people think if you wore that sexy garb while walking?

And to be clear, I did not mean “winner”. I meant “wiener”. As in penis or a sausage style developed in Vienna, or, I guess, simply a PERSON from Vienna (such an unfortunate moniker!). And you would look like one of those Austrians if you took on brisk walking as a form of exercise, whether or not you’re wearing the track suit or sporting the wide-swinging hips.  

Christian: I only exercise under a cloak of darkness (early morning), therefore it doesn’t really matter to me which European nationality I look like. For now, I’m going to stick to my brisk walking. The only argument I might buy into, which you haven’t presented I might add, is that running regularly would help me out when being chased by bad guys. Although for me, it would more likely be me being chased by good guys that think I’m a bad guy due to me being falsely accused of a crime I didn’t commit. But either way, it means I wouldn’t be able to stop to pet neighborhood cats anymore and I just don’t know if that’s worth it.