Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's Worse Than We Thought!

Hey Christian...I don’t even know if this one counts as a post or a warning!

Remember back when I talked about that squirrel falling out of a tree (here), and how that might have could have possibly been a harbinger of some great big animal takeover?

Well, get this! In the last week I’ve had TWO inexplicable experiences again related to animals being where they shouldn’t be.

First...I was leading a workshop teaching about 35 other teachers, shit, you don’t care what I was teaching them. Anyway, I was in a room with 35 other adult educators when I completely lost their attention to a llama that came from the hallway outside and paraded itself through our meeting space. It was weird! People either rushed to get their picture taken with it, or they continued with their table discussions as though everything was normal...and I’m not sure which response was weirder!

Then...yesterday while on a run (kinda’ near to your neighborhood, just so you know!), I turned down a side road, and saw three huge peacocks standing on a fence railing, just staring at me, with a thuggish glint in their eyes! Their heads just turned, following me slowly, as I passed by. Nothing since has come of it (that I KNOW of), but it was just darn creepy!

More and more, animals are appearing where they are NOT supposed to be! What the hell is going on here, man?

Christian: Did you get prescribed some new medications recently? If so I think you might be reading the dosage amounts wrong.

Pat:  NO! This is not a joke, and I am not high or bonkers! And just so you know, I have a feeling that’s EXACTLY the kind of response they’re planning on my fellow humans having when I sound the alarm, thus making their takeover that much easier.

And in the time since you wrote, guess what? Skunk in the neighborhood setting up shop! How cavalier do they think they can be?!

Oh...and crows? Don’t even get me started on crows. I think they might be the masterminds behind the whole thing!

Christian: OK, maybe you are onto something here - although I still think you should have someone check your dosage readings - because the other day I experienced one of these “situations” that you seem to be having all the time.

Here’s what went down.

I was taking the garbage out to the curb and I suddenly noticed a flurry of something out of the corner of my eye above me on the telephone wire. I assumed it was a bird landing on the wire but when I looked up I saw that it was two squirrels fighting each other.

About a second after it registered with me what I was seeing they both fell. I gasped as I watched the two of them plummet to the ground. But the weird thing was that they continued to fight as they fell through the air. It was kind of like the Matrix.

As they were about to hit the ground, just a few feet away from me, I cringed, bracing myself for  their impact. But to my surprise they landed rather softly and continued fighting, not missing a beat. They formed one big blurry ball of squirrel fury.

At this point I took a step forward and said, rather sternly, “Knock it off, you two.”

Once I said this I realized how ridiculous I must sound to anyone who might be currently watching the situation. I quickly looked around to make sure none of my neighbors were out and about, or at least within earshot.

The squirrels at this point must have also realized how ridiculous I sounded because they both took off running. One chasing the other, obviously not ready to give up the fight quite yet.

I resisted all temptations to chase off after them and headed back inside.

Is this episode the kind of thing you are talking about?

There’s something about squirrels I just don’t trust.

Pat: Yes, exactly. They are definitely getting more and more bold about letting us see the things that have heretofore been only visible in the animal realm. I think it’s their way of giving us a subtle though they’re saying, “Hey, if they don’t get the clues from THESE antics, then they deserve to be dominated by us!”

The kids and I just took advantage of one of our fair cities’ public ventures--movies in the park. They’re free, so I had no qualms about going. I say that because the film that night was “Zookeeper” starring Kevin James and, I think, the city of New York. It might be the worst film in the world. It involves talking animals, and the premise is that the main character is such a tool that the animals have to help him, so they agree to override the animal world agreement that they let humans know that not only can they understand our language (only English, I presume) AND that they can speak it too.

And it just occurred to me that maybe ANIMALS made yet another warning. That could at least explain why it was so bad.

Is this our future?

Christian: I haven’t seen the movie but the previews were so bad they made my IQ hurt. Wait a second...  I think you actually might be onto something here. But it might be worse. What if instead of the movie being a warning it’s actually the beginning of them taking over?

Maybe they intentionally made it so bad that it would actually makes us dumber from having watched it. I know I felt dumber after watching the previews. I can’t even imagine how dumb you and your kids are now after watching the whole movie.

I think they are planning on dumbing us down so that they can take over as rulers of the world.

What do you think? Hopefully you still have enough wits about you to read and comprehend what I am writing here. PAT. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORDS I’M SAYING?

Pat:  Huh? Can you write shorter sentences, please? I’ll re-read what you wrote and try harder to understand the words, but I need to go feed my cats right now. They’re driving me nuts, and they don’t stop until I do what they want.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


The other week, while I was staying at a hotel while traveling for work, I was right in the middle of rearranging all the furniture in my room when I realized that I should probably leave a tip for the cleaning staff considering that I would be leaving them with more towels than what the room was originally stocked with before I arrived*.

I usually don’t leave a tip for the cleaning staff since I typically never have housekeeping done during my stay and always tidy the place up before I leave. So if you really think about it, I’m the one who should be getting the tip.

But I must admit I’m not very confident in my when-to-tip and when-not-to-tip knowledge. I definitely understand tipping when eating at a restaurant. I’ve got that one down good. It’s pretty well accepted that not leaving a tip would be incredibly insulting. But what about other tipping situations?

Pat, what I would like to do is throw out some potential tipping scenarios and you tell me how much of a jerk I am if I don’t tip. Let’s start with the hotel housekeeping tip.

Let’s say you stay at a hotel but never have housekeeping come, should you leave a tip in your room upon check out? Assuming you put all the furniture back how it was before you leave and don’t leave any additional towels.

Pat:  Before we set off down this road, can I remind you that I’m the guy (read: “cheap bastard”) who asked you if it was okay to make off with a gallon of half & half when I buy a 12 ounce coffee from a neighborhood coffee shop?

I’m not sure that I’m the best moral guide.

Christian: OK, how about this: give an opinion from your own personal point of view and then give another answer while imagining you’re  a normal contributing member of society.

Pat:’s the latter:

Considering most hotel staff probably have a scripted protocol they have to employ when cleaning each room, the amount of tidying you do likely has no effect on what they still have to do to bring the room up to management expectations. For example, you may make the bed, with drill-seargent regulation corners, but they will still unmake it and re-make it, simply because they have to. Ergo, you taking it upon yourself to tidy up in lieu of a tip STILL makes you a cheap bastard in their eyes. So...normal me says pay up, cheap-o! You think they’re really breaking the bank with their minimum wage job, one-percenter? Please, Mr. Rich-Man...remember the other 99!

HOWEVER...if it is justification for anti-social behavior you’re looking for, look no further my friend, because REAL me is back!

You did the cleaning, you say? Tip yourself! Go get yourself a nice drink, and say hi to the cleaning staff on your way out!

Christian: I see your point. But in my defense, when I say I tidy up I mean I put all the towels I use into a pile and throw away any garbage I may have accumulated. I actually never make the bed. And in the spirit of being totally candid, when I’m staying in rooms that have two beds I typically mess both of them up even when traveling alone. It’s just something that has to be done.

So let’s move on to my next tipping situation. Keeping with the motel theme, what is your opinion on tipping for valet parking?

While traveling for work I occasionally end up staying places where the only option for parking is valet. But keep in mind this isn’t free valet parking. The hotels typically charge $35 - $45 a night for valet parking. But since I am traveling for work I can expense that since it shows up on my hotel receipt. What I can’t expense is the tip for the valet guy so I generally just leave one tip as I check out. Usually around $5 which I’m assuming is on the cheap side. But I usually stay at a hotel for a full work week so if I were to tip the valet’s $5 every time they take my car or give me my car I would be looking at a $50 loss! That’s a lot of Cheeto money.

Pat: You just moved out of my league, buddy. I don’t think I’ve ever valet parked. Or had a valet do my parking. Or parked in a valet. Whatever.

I would opt to ride my bike to the hotel, and thus save the extra dough.

And just to clear things do realize that you are a cheap bastard as a result of the hotel scenario, right? Tip the damn cleaning staff!

Christian: OK, let’s move on then. How about when you go to a restaurant to pick up some take-out food? Do you leave a tip?

Of course you would leave a tip if you dined in but in that case aren’t you tipping the service of being waited on? When you are picking up your food you really aren’t getting any additional service.

And before you go arguing that the tip goes to the people that prepared the food and ran your credit card etc., don’t you get that same service at fast food places? Am I expected to tip them too?

Pat:  Not even a question there. No tip. Maybe, and this is a VERY rare maybe, if I’m feeling an extra pep in my step, I might toss a dollar into a tip jar if they have one, but tip.

I fully recognize that I too am a cheap-ass bastard, but I think this tipping thing has gotten out of hand. The traditionalist in me thinks, “You have a job. Do it well. Get paid for your good and hard work. Don’t expect much more than that.” I know that service workers are getting the shaft with their crappy wages, and it’s hard to make a living even with a full-time job, but is it really my job to make up the deficit? Can’t I just have my underpriced service at an unsustainably low price?

Good god, I started sounding like my Orange county relatives there! Okay...back to my naive liberalism. How about a hug in lieu of a tip?

Christian: I do like hugging strangers but I’m guessing they wouldn’t appreciate it as much as money. Thanks for the tip though.

* How else are you supposed to get rid of your extra unwanted towels?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Are Those Magical Witch Doctors We Call Hypnotists Real?

There aren’t very many things that I would say frighten me. Spiders? Not really. They seem rather silly with all those legs.

Sharks? I’m pretty sure I can outrun a shark. Assuming we are both on land.

Fire? Who am I Frankenstein?

Justin Bieber*? I’m not afraid to punch that guy in the smile.

However, one thing I am definitely afraid of is having my brain taken over and controlled by some ruler of evil. But who isn’t?

Of course I’m talking about hypnotists. These wizard types apparently have the ability to put someone under their spell and force them to do their bidding no matter how embarrassing and/or dangerous. Or do they?

I have always thought of hypnotists as sort of like magicians. Obviously not as cool and sophisticated as magicians, what with their dancing tigers and exotic woman friends. Not to mention their fancy and mystical hand movements that we would all die for.

The essence of class.

No, not as cool as magicians, but similar to how magicians do “tricks” I have always assumed hypnotists were also doing “tricks”. I mean if they were real, wouldn’t the military have armies of them by now, going around hypnotizing countries?

My question is, are hypnotists real? And if so shouldn’t we be scared?

Pat: Y’know, dear friend, if you scroll back through many of our posts you’ll notice a slight trend--there are quite a few instances where you analyze my words and make subtle questions or suggestions regarding the sanity of my ideas.  

Care to reconsider any of those comments?

I guess I have to be honest--I have not given any thought (seriously...not even an iota, and I don’t use that word very often!) to hypnotists. Magicians, yes--who can resist David Copperfield making things disappear on TV!--but not hypnotists. Sorry.

Wait! Does Simon Baker’s character on The Mentalist count? Is he a hypnotist? Is he the kind of person you’re talking about being afraid of?

Stare DEEP into my dreamy eyes, Christian!

Christian: I’m not sure. I’ve never watched that show so as of right now I’m not afraid of him. But that could easily change if he were to lay those dreamy eyes on me.

Basically all I want to know is, is there solid science behind this whole hypnotizing people thing or is it just smoke and mirrors and a bunch of hooey?

I’ve had many people tell me that they know someone or know someone that knows someone that has been hypnotized and that they claim it is real. But I definitely have had no first hand experience myself and have never even talked to anyone that has claimed to have had first hand experience.

And I can say the same thing for “spotting a Leprechaun**”.

So this makes me skeptical. You’re a teacher shouldn’t you know the answer to this?

Pat:  Listen, buddy--if I were the sole teacher in a rural single-room schoolhouse with 15 kids ranging in age from 6 to 18 back in Walnut Grove circa 1874, then yes, you could presume that I SHOULD know just about everything. But I’m not, so instead I specialize in pretending to know a lot about a very thin slice of all the known things in the universe. Got it?

That said, at heart I am a skeptic, so I tend to doubt all of those kinds of things--magicians, hypnotists, organized religions, the theory of cholesterol, Cuba...

Like you’ve said, show me the science and then I’ll believe it!

Then again, my mom said, with complete steadfastness, that I had an angel watching over me. Like, right over me, as my mom was talking to me. She looked just over my shoulder and said, “Right there...there she is! She’s beautiful! And she’ll always help you make the right decisions.” Kinda’ freaked me out for the next two decades, ‘cause moms don’t make that stuff up, right?

Christian:  Was your mom a hypnotist?

Pat:  Nope, she was a teacher, like me. And then a collector of crystals and then a lover of crucifixes (crucifi?), both of which are unlike me. Oh, and she did get into tarot for awhile. Why do you ask?

Christian: Well, it’s just that a lot of those things you just listed as your mom’s hobbies I would equate to hypnotising people.

Since you obviously don’t have an answer for me I’m afraid I’m just going to have to take a minute and google to see if hypnotists are the real deal.

*three weeks go by*

OK, apparently it’s somewhat real. According to How Stuff Works “It is a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, relaxation and heightened imagination.”

They then go on to compare it to reading, driving, watching a movie and, for some reason, to mowing the lawn (Don’t say it Pat!***).

But they do say that even though people in this trance are more suggestible or perhaps just more agreeable, hypnotists can’t get you to do anything you don’t really want to do. Phew!

However, I’m still afraid of them and think they should all be arrested.

Pat:  Ha! I TOLD you there was merit to lawn mowing, buddy! Me and a handful of quack hypnotists cannot be wrong!

* No, I did not mention Justin Bieber’s name just so that we would show up in more google searches and increase our SEO or whatever that mythical thing is that brings more people that have no interest in reading our blog, to our site. Porn, Lady GaGa, Free Bieber tickets, sex leopards.
** I’m assuming Leprechauns aren’t real either, but again, I haven’t seen the science.
*** Pat and I have a long ongoing argument about lawn mowing which you can read about here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Posting Pics of Your Kids on Facebook: Fair or Call CPS?

Pat, I think at one point you told me that you don’t think it’s fair for parents to post pictures of their kids on the internet since the kids have no say in it. Were you thinking about this with regards to just the ugly kids or all kids in general? Can you elaborate?

Pat:  Well, ugly kids are easy, ‘cause no one should put someone at risk of ridicule without their permission. And y’know what? While I admit to once falling victim to that disease that makes all parents think their newborn kids are the cutest things EVER, I’ve gotten to a point where, while I respect kids--almost all kids--I have no trouble in acknowledging that many of them are just damn ugly. Or funny looking. Or weird. Or stinky.  

And I don’t necessarily think they become that way...I think they always ARE that way, but the exhaustion they impose on us makes us blind to it. As they age, and we regain our strength and vitality, we become able to see them for the freaks they are.

Freaks or not, though, I don’t feel right about posting their pics on Facebook. Seems too likely to tap into a big ole’ keg of creepy!

Penny for your thoughts?

Christian: I’m pretty confident my kids are gorgeous and always have been.

So you don’t ever post pictures of your kids to Facebook or other places on the internet? What do you mean by big ole’ keg of creepy?

Pat:  Don’t ask me what I mean, fool!

(Largely because I don’t really know. I mostly write these things after a bit of drinking, and tend not to think too much about the content of my responses, so, really...I’m not so sure what I meant. I bet it was profound, though!)

I try not to post pics of my kids on Facebook. I know, I other ways I am so much the left-wing anti-establishment rabble-rousing fella’, but that’s where I draw the line. When they get their own Facebook page, they can post whatever pictures of themselves they want (WAIT!  Scratch that!), but while they’re still my little ugly, weird, stinky cherubs their visages will remain free from internet tainting.

And that tainting, in whatever form it may take, is EXACTLY the kind of creepy I’m talking about! In my contentious line of work, you never know what a disgruntled former student may do to a picture of my offspring. With the magic of Adobe Photoshop™, they can turn my sweet little boy into the poster child for the Aryan Nation. Not on MY watch, says I!

Did you have other kinds of creepy in mind?

Christian: No not really. But I can understand your concern about posting picture of your kids. And I can also see the argument I stated at the beginning that for those kids that are too young to understand something like Facebook, is it really fair to be posting pictures of them that are most likely going to be on the internet for the rest of their lives?

Tough question.

But on the other side of it, what if your kids are absolutely dazzling? Is it fair to deny your friends, family, and weird strangers pictures of your amazingly stunning kids?

For example take this picture of my daughter from last year:


Or this one:


Would it be fair of me to deny the general public from viewing these pictures? I don’t think so.

I just don’t have that kind of hatred towards humanity.

Pat:  Is that your daughter? She looks like a perfect spokesmodel or child representative for this organization:
Don’t you see how easy that could be for me to steal the photo and exploit the intent of your masterful photography and darling child? Creepy, innit?!

Christian: First off, yes of course that is my daughter. Can’t you tell? She has obviously inherited my wife’s eyes and my stunning-ness?

Secondly, OK I see your point. But who would want to do something like that? Maybe if you had enemies that might be a concern but last I checked I was enemy free (and no cavities!).

So if you don’t post any pictures of your kids on facebook, online etc, aren’t you concerned that when they get older they will be outcasts because all of their peers did have their childhoods documented online via crappy pictures?

Imagine the scene when one of your kids is just beginning college and is meeting some of their fellow college freshman for the first time:

POTENTIAL FRIEND 1: “Hi my name is POTENTIAL FRIEND 1 and this is POTENTIAL FRIEND 2, we’re freshman too”

PAT’S KID: “Hi, nice to meet you guys.”

POTENTIAL FRIEND 2: “We were just looking at pictures of each other’s entire lives via our parent’s facebook pages. We just met, but now we feel like we have been best friends forever. Can we see your photographically documented life online?”

PAT’S KID: “Oh. Well you see my dad didn’t think it was safe to post pictures of me online so they’re aren’t any.”

POTENTIAL FRIEND 2:”Oh... That’s sort of weird”

PAT’S KID: “Well yeah I guess he...”

POTENTIAL FRIEND 1: “Anyhoo, we should probably get going. There’s a huge party happening later that’s supposed to be a major gathering for cool people to make lifelong friends. I don’t think it’s something you would enjoy so maybe we’ll see you around. Bye.”

PAT’S KID: *runs off to dorm room to take pictures of themselves crying*

Are you happy now Pat?

Pat: Well, yeah. It’s just those kind of tough life situations that test your mettle and show you what kind of person you are. It’ll be good for them.  

And if those two potential friends would rather go to some “cool” party with other “cool” people than hang out with my child whittling wooden likenesses of themselves to capture for eternity
using their homemade daguerreotype machines and then sending them back home via their pet carrier pigeon...well, then, they are not the kind of potential friends I want my kids to be hanging out with.

Christian: OK, we’ll mark you down as a ‘NO’ on the whole facebook thing then.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Best Job Ever!

Readers should probably be informed that this post was begun on Sunday, June 10. The reason for that disclaimer will be evident shortly.

Pat:  Guess what? I just again realized that I might possibly have the best job in the world. Sure, some kids are kinda’ stinkers, but they suddenly become amazing wonders of creation at the end of the year, usually in June. Not sure why, but every year, like magic, it happens! LOVE it!

Is your job like that?

Christian: Is this because you are a teacher and have the next couple of months off? Because what I’m hearing is that you really love your job the most when you’re not doing it.

Pat:  Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Well, not really, actually. I do love my job. It’s just that I love it more now, when I’m not doing it.

Is your job like that?

Christian: Yes it is. I do like my job but I like not doing my job even more.

I would guess a lot of people like their job more when they’re not doing it. And I would even venture to say that most people would find their job even more appealing if they didn’t have to do it as much. In fact, I’m pretty sure that my job would be the absolutely best job in the world for me if I never had to do it.

So maybe not doing your job isn’t any more special than not doing any other job. Have you ever thought about that?

Pat:   What are the laws governing the use of triple negatives?

I think you’re onto something...our love for things is inversely related to the amount of time we have to spend doing it. That sounds like math or physics. Therefore, while I do love teaching WHILE I am actually teaching, I love the IDEA of teaching more, especially when I don’t have to do it.

Whew! This is grammatically taxing!

Christian: Yes. And I can’t tell you how much I absolutely love not working as a Sewage Treatment Worker or Elephant Semen Extractor. I truly love not having to do those jobs. Probably even more than you love not teaching.


So if the point of this post was to determine what that best job not to ever do is, I think we can do a lot better than teacher.

Pat:  Wait! What?

No...but I LIKE my job, much more than I like not doing other jobs. See what happens when I try to start a post?! You mix up words ‘til I don’t know what I’m saying anymore. It’s not fair!

And it’s not really that I like my job, it’s just that I wanted to rub it in your face that you’re probably working while you write all this out while I’m enjoying my seventh cup of coffee and my second breakfast while still in my bedclothes and it’s already 2 p.m.  

But I was trying to be nice about it and just talk about how I liked my job. Why do you have to ruin EVERYTHING, Christian?

You know what job would SUCK, though? Hot Dog on a Stick! That uniform is dehumanizing!

I hate my life. I hate you. Fuck off.

Christian: But just think of all the free corn dogs! And with those uniforms it’s got to be non-stop fun on a stick!

Unless you’re a dude. Then yes those uniforms would really really suck. Do they let dudes work at Hot Dog on a Stick? Or is it one of those Hooters type places? I wouldn’t want to work at Hooters either. Those uniforms would also look terrible on me.

Pat:  Apparently, yes. Who knew?

Just LOOK at our lemons!

Christian: First Hot Dog on a Stick. Then Hooters. You really seem to have a thing for places that seem to degrade women. And before you go all arguing that you were actually criticizing Hot Dog on a Stick and that it was actually me that brought up Hooters, let’s just take a moment of silence to remember those that have been forgotten.


OK, now where was I before I had to give you a lesson on women’s liberation? Oh yeah, me mixing up your words. What? Where? What are you talking about? You’re the one who is now changing your tune about the purpose of this post. Remember? You just said, and I quote:

“And I don’t really like my job, it’s just that I wanted to rub it in your face that you’re probably working really hard to benefit society while you write all this out while I’m enjoying my seventeenth cup of bailey’s/whiskey and a constant stream of breakfast sausages while naked and it’s already well into the afternoon/late evening.”

Mixing up words? Pshhh.

Pat: Y’know, I’m really sorry. Sometimes having someone repeat your words back to you really helps you see what a jerk you’ve been. And by “your”, “you”, “you” and “you’ve” I really mean “my”, “me”, “me” and “I’ve”. Sorry man...I’ll work on being less of a dick. I’m also going to work on practicing better dietary habits, ‘cause that alcohol and sausage breakfast you reminded me I ate sounds really revolting!

Thanks for being such a friend!

Christian: Apology accepted.

For now.

And maybe I am a little jealous that you have the entire summer off, to drink alcohol, eat sausages, and go around being a dick. Yes, I wish I could do that too. In fact I have always thought that your job would be the most perfect job to have if it wasn’t for the teaching part of it.