Thursday, December 18, 2008

Missing Kansas City

Two days ago, I stayed the night in Kansas City on my way to visit my parents in southern Missouri. Despite being in town for less than twelve hours, and only going from Union Station to my sister's house, I realized how much I missed the city.

It wasn't the city -- the location, the buildings, the lights, the smell -- that I missed so much as my ideas and memories of the place. I miss knowing my way around. I miss having pride in my city and community. I miss feeling like I was making progress in my life. I miss feeling like I had some things figured out. I miss feeling freedom. I miss drinking to excess. I miss not having to worry about money. I miss loving a girlfriend. I miss friends I'd had since highschool.

Of course, nostalgia hits you in the heart, not the head: I don't miss frustration with work and discontent with my professional life. I don't miss different groups of friends not getting along and growing distant from my lover. I don't miss wasted time and bad decisions.

I have some good memories of and feelings toward my Chicago experience so far, but nothing like those of KC. I want to feel as fond of my new city as much as I do of my old one. Perhaps time is the only remedy for this.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I Bet Mine Was Better

Fox is going to adapt 9-year-old's book about talking to girls. How come no major studios picked up the book I wrote in 2nd grade about how to make a mustud and cheeze sandwich?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Adventures in Craigslisting, Part 7: Hard Bargains

This post is the long-overdue finale to my Adventures in Craigslisting. I might even call it the piece de resistance of the series. So, please, sit back, relax, and enjoy.

This tale starts not with me trying to sell my car, but with my once-and-previous roommate, Jaysix Usaustin, trying to sell our crap before moving out of our place in Kansas City.

We listed most of the major items in the Garage Sale section and then cross-posted into several other sections (furniture, electronics, etc.) and made it clear (I thought) that these were not all the items we had for sale and that they were not described in full detail because we had so many. At the end of each post we instructed the reader, if interested, to come by the sale and check the items out in person.

Immediately, we began to receive questions about specific items, how they looked and in what condition were they. To most of these questions I replied something like, "We have too many items to describe in detail. Please drop by and check them out for yourself."

Now, I understand the incredible power of communication over the internet, that information can nigh instantaneously be transmitted over vast distances without either sender or sendee ever leaving their chairs. But this is not the point of a rummage sale, now is it? The point of a rummage sale is to get up off your duff and scour through mounds of useless crap that your neighbor is trying to get rid of. The point is not to have him describe every item in detail to you before you think about checking it out. This would pretty much be a waste of everyone's time.

Well, this didn't sit well with one potential customer, but I'm getting ahead of myself. First, here is his initial inquiry:

From: [Collector]

Hello,
I was wondering if you could tell me what games you have with the Sega Genisis? Do they all come with the cases and booklets that came with them? Is everything in good condition? Sorry for the questions I am actually a collector. Please let me know how much you would like for everything and for individual games.
Thank you
[Collector]

Seeing that I might have the opportunity to get rid of a whole bunch of stuff at once, I thought I'd forgo the usual "come check this crap our yourself" and give him enough details to say "Yes, I'll take it all." So, I replied:

From: [Mr McBastard]

The games are Sonic the Hedgehog 2, TMNT Tournament Fighters, Risk, and Herzog Zwei (all with original cases and instructions), and also Vectorman and Comix Zone (no cases).

I've kept the system in its original box. Everything worked the last time I played it, but that was nearly 10 years ago. I have not opened it up since then.

I'm really just trying to get rid of this stuff, so does $25 sound like a deal?

Also, I have a Playstation (complete system with original box) with games (no original cases) and a Nintendo 64 (unfortunately, no box, controllers, or games). Are you interested in either of those?

--[Mr McBastard]

If you give 'em an inch, the saying goes, they'll take your sanity. Collector had a favor to ask of me:

From: [Collector]

I hate to ask this but can you send me some pics of the Sega Genisis box so I can see the condition of it? That would really help me a lot. Could you send a pick of the N64 deck as well
Thank you
[Collector]

After having responding to dozens of pointless Craigslisters' questions over the previous weeks, I could see that this wasn't going anywhere. Also, I doubted that Collector really "hated to ask" me this favor; if he really hated to, I doubt he would have done it. Anyway, I reverted to my standard response:

From: [Mr McBastard]

I'm sorry, but we've got quite a few items, too many to take pictures of each one. If you're interested, please stop by the address listed in the posting and get a glimpse of it first-hand. Sorry again.

--[Mr McBastard]

Note: I really wasn't "sorry." Or "sorry again," for that matter.

He responded:

From: [Collector]

I just want to see the condition of the box and I will take it off your hands.

I concluded that this guy was just another time-waster. No real collector would just want to see a picture to determine the condition of the item they're collecting before they bought it. If he really did collect, he would get up off his ass and come to my house to look at it himself, to see what scratches, dents, and tears were there that a photograph wouldn't show. So, if this guy just needed to see a crappy picture of the box to determine the condition, I figured a crappy description would be just as good:

From: [Mr McBastard]

The box is in pretty good condition: a few minor scuffs on the surface and a little wear along the edges and corners. I'd say it's really good for being 15 years old.

I received his reply:

From: [Collector]

I need to see pics so I'm gonna pass thank you though.

Oh no! He wasn't going to buy my discarded crap unless I did everything he said! Who didn't see this one coming? Well, not to be out-douched, I sent him a reply:

From: [Mr McBastard]

You drive a hard bargain. Attached is a picture of the box.

--[Mr McBastard]

nutsack! photograph courtesy of Jaysix Usaustin

He was not pleased:

From: [Collector]

Dude you are a waste of flesh and my time. I will be removing your posting.

"A waste of flesh and my time?" Funny, I was thinking the same thing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Holiday Spirit

Yesterday I was thankful that I actually cursed-out a customer. It has been a dream of mine since high school, and it was finally realized in a nearly justified manner.

I worked as a cashier yesterday, instead of at the Service Desk, because no other cashiers wanted to work on a major US holiday that a grocery store has no business being open on anyway. About half-way through the day, I began scanning one guy's groceries and asked him, as I am required to do of every customer, if he had a Piggly Wiggly Preferred Club Card. He responded, "Not with me."

This is a typical response, to which I usually and did reply, "Would you like me to look it up for you?" (We have a subprogram on our registers that allow us to look up customers' Preferred Card information if they forget to bring it with them.)

He said, "If you want to."

This is an atypical response; "Yes" or "No" (or something similar) is what I usually get. It is never left up to me to decide such things. Why would it be? It's not my food; it's not my money. So, I replied in my usual deadpan snarkiness, "Well, I don't want to, but I will if you want me to." I expected a chuckle or smile and a real answer to my question. I received none of these these.

At the end of his order I asked again, "So, do you want me to look up your card for you?"

"Don't put yourself out," he said with a roll of his eyes.

Okay, I thought, so, we're being pricks about this.

"Look," I said, "I've already asked you twice if you want me to look it up for you. So, do you?" Sometimes it's hard for me to understand why these little things are such a big deal to people.

"And I said, 'If you want to.'"

"And then I said that I didn't want to but I would if you said so," I said with an implied "So what?" at the end.

"Well, that's some great attitude."

"Sorry for being honest." I waited, hoping he would just say "Yes, fine, just look it up already!" and we could finish the transaction. We looked at each other. He wasn't budging. Seconds swam by. I finally called it. "Okay, so that's a 'No.'" I told him his total.

As he swiped his credit card, "You're the worst one here," he said in regards to the renown the store has for hiring cranky help.

By this point I was done. "Okay," I said, knowing this to, in fact, be false, but not wanting to encourage him. He had all the courage he needed.

"I'm going to call your manager tomorrow."

I nodded and raised my eyebrows, as if to say, "Neat, I love threats." If you've got nothing better to do on your holiday weekend than tattle on the mean kid at the checkout counter, then, bud, you've got to find a hobby.

He continued, "That's just fucking laziness is what it is."

My finger hovered over the last button on the register for a second before pressing it. Did he just call me "fucking lazy?" Should I curse him back? The receipt printer hummed under my hand. No, I know you really want to, but just let him have his last word. I tugged the receipt loose from the printer and turned to the angry man. But he said "fuck." Why can't I say "fuck," too? His eyes glared at me, dared me, taunted me. Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. "Well..." I said. Part of me sighed and hung it's head at another part that was beaming like an overjoyed child. You've already started; you might as well finish. I handed him his receipt. "... fuck you, too."

He walked away muttering more curses under his breath. Are you happy?

Yes. Yes, I am.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Coming Out

So, some of you have known this for some time now, and the rest of you may have already guessed. But I think it's time I finally came out of the closet. I can't hide the truth anymore: I have a beard.

I know some of you may disapprove of my beard; you may find my "alternative lifestyle choice" to be "unnatural" or "against God's plan." But why would God make hair grow on our faces if he did not want us to have beards? Others of you may think that my beard goes against traditional American values. However, just look to the past for numerous examples of great Americans who wore beards and wore them with pride.

I know some of you may be afraid of me now, but you have nothing to be frightened of. I don't want to "corrupt" your children and convince them to grow beards. I don't want to push some bearded agenda on you. I am not a pervert or a freak. I am a person -- the same person I have always been -- just with facial.

I want the same rights and privileges you enjoy: freedom from harassment, equal opportunity for employment, and the right to marry whomever I choose. I know this last one may be a offensive to some. Some people believe that this would destroy the traditional definition of marriage -- that it is a contract between a clean-shaven man and a clean-shaven woman. To you I say, Perhaps it is time to change this tradition (if it indeed exists at all) and progress into the future, when everyone will be free to love anyone he or she chooses, regardless of facial hair.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Something New Under the Sun

I thought I'd seen every mullet there was to see, but, thanks to the National Geographic Channel, I've now seen a Sumatran Mullet -- a dark, curly, business-in-front-party-in-back hairdo gracing the head of a farmer on the island of Sumatra.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Army Recruitment Video

Why is it that Army recruitment commercials only depict black, urban families or white, rural families? There's never a white, suburban kid trying to convince his parents to let him go into the Army, which you'd think would be the largest untapped market.

I think such a video could go something like this:

Middle-class, white family standing in the driveway.

KID: Thanks, Mom and Dad! This Scion xB is the perfect graduation present. But you know what I really want? To join the Army!

FATHER: I don't know, son. Your mother and I were all ready to pay for your college education in full; we just don't know about you earning money for college for yourself.

MOTHER: Well now, Father, let's just listen to our son for a minute. After all, the Johnsons next door let their son join the Army. Maybe we ought to think about this.

KID: Yeah, Dad. Plus, I've done a lot of research and found that I might get woefully inadequate compensation and horrible health care benefits, and I'll get to be a pawn for large corporate interests ... just like you!

MOTHER: He might even learn such things as Respect and Honor; things us parents or teevee can't possibly teach a child.

KID: Well, that is, if I don't die first.

They all laugh.

FATHER: Well, OK. I'm convinced.

VOICE OVER: If your son or daughter asks about the Army, listen.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Don't Take the Rice So Literally

This story comes straight from the What The Fuck files: A man came into the store yesterday and approached the service counter. He had the shifting eyes and huffiness of a person that cannot believe they must suffer the great indignity of making a formal complaint. I waited with annoyed anticipation to discover what inexcusable tragedy had no doubt befallen this poor soul. "What can I do for you?"

He set a box of instant rice on the counter and flicked a receipt at me. "I want a refund for this."

I grabbed a pen and began to fill the Returned Merchandise form.

Date: 11/2/08
Item: Minute Rice
Reason for Return:

"And what's the reason you want to return this?" I asked with faux interest.

"It doesn't cook in a minute." I stopped writing and hoped, just hoped, that he was joking. I looked up and saw on his face that he was not joking in the slightest. I sighed the deepest sigh and trudged forth through the mire of mind-numbing ignorance.

The story ends with him walking away in a huff, leaving his half-used box of Minute Rice behind because it was "worthless." I can't help but wonder how many cups of rice he could have cooked in the time it took him to drive to the store, make an utter ass out of himself, refuse to file a complaint with the manufacturer, waste my time, and then drive back home.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Self Hyphen

Where is the line between self-indulgence and self-loathing? Or is it all just selfishness?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Question for the Class

Does a lack of compassion have any practical applications?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

iFail

I had lost my iPod Shuffle a few weeks ago, but I found it last week ... in the bottom of the washing machine. I let it dry and plugged it into the USB port (It's a 1st generation.), and was surprised that it synced to iTunes. However, when I plugged in my earbuds, I was saddened to find that it no longer played. Oh well, at least I can still use it as a 1G flash drive.

So, in order to assuage my deep sorrow over the loss of my beloved technological distraction, I've put a replacement on my Wish List. Although, instead of another shuffle, I'd like to try out an iPod Touch. I promise not to stupidly leave this one in my pants pocket.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Sneakers

I've had the same pair of sneakers since the end of my sophomore year of college, circa 2003. That's longer than my longest relationship, and they've put up with more abuse than my exgirlfriend. That's longer than I've lived in one place, and they feel more comfortable than any place I've called "home" in a while.

But I think it's time to put them out to pasture. The tread, where it's still visible, is faint and shallow. I've worn through the sole on the heal and across the pad of my feet on both shoes, and my socks get wet when I walk on wet grass or through the shallowest of puddles. The toe has been starting to separate from the left shoe. I ripped out the loose insole lining of the right shoe years ago. Surprisingly, they don't smell too terribly bad.

I just bought a new pair of sneakers, a discount pair of red, grey, and black Converse. (I was going to get a pair of Chucks, but they didn't have any good-looking one's on sale.) So, I'll check back in when I'm thirty and let you know how they're holding up.

Friday, October 17, 2008

He's Followed Me

I was standing around at work, minding my own business, expressly not working, when a regular customer who knows my name (even when I "forget" my name tag) called out to me in distress. I turned my head and raised my eyebrows before I even realized she'd called out for "Josh" to help her.

So, he's here, too; Josh moved here with me. And he apparently hasn't had much luck finding a job in the city, either, and is working at the Piggly Wiggly, too. Or else he just likes to hang out at grocery stores and get to know cranky old ladies who can't open the ladies bathroom door because the handle sticks a little.

Either way, I'm glad to know he's alive and well. I was starting to get worried about him.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Text Message Apologies

I'd rather get no apology at all than a text message apology. I don't want to have to pay my cell phone provider just to know that you want me to forgive you.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bacon Chocolate

The Long-Dater, with whom I've gone out on several more dates over the past couple of months, gave me a gift when we met up last Friday: A chocolate bar with bacon bits inside. It was delicious; salty and sweet mixed together perfectly. My only complaint is that there wasn't enough bacon. Perhaps I should try chocolate-covered bacon. Anyone with a fondue pot want to come over and try some experiments?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Banks Can't Swim

While standing in line at the bank, I heard one guy tell his friend that "he didn't believe in banks." This is a statement that I would expect out of a grizzled old man with a dip of chaw in his lip and his 'coon-hunting rifle in his grip, not from a twenty-something prep-punk that follows his buddy to the bank. Though, with the way financial institutions in America have been going under like so many unsupervised kids at the public pool, I don't begrudge anyone not trusting in banks anymore.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

One Wish

If you had one wish, what would you wish for? World peace? An end to poverty? A perfect Utopian society?

Not me. I'd wish that French Toast Crunch had never been discontinued.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Rejected Transplant

During my first couple of months here, I was applying for jobs in the city pretty haphazardly (whatever seemed interesting on Craigslist or CareerBuilder) and getting at least one reply a week. If the reply wasn't to invite me to an interview, it was sometimes to ask me to clarify or expound upon something in my cover letter or resume. At the very least, I was getting responses back to say that the position had already been filled or that they didn't think I was qualified. Then, almost two months ago, the replies stopped.

About the time that I started applying not only to jobs that seemed interesting but also to just about any job I thought I could do for a while and that payed enough for me to get by -- about that time, I stopped hearing back from the people I was sending my resume to. At first, I thought it was just a dry spell, but, nearly two months later, it's seeming more like a drought.

I'm not sure if the problem is with what I'm applying for, who I'm applying to, or something on my resume. But I'm beyond discouraged. I had thought that by now I would have had a job for a month or two, be looking for an apartment, and saving up for one more month or so before I moved out of Happy Time and Stellar's place. But here I am: surviving only by the grace of friends and no closer to finding employment or living quarters in the city than I was at the beginning of the summer.

Moving from Kansas City seems pretty long ago. More and more it feels like it was a mistake. What opportunities did I think were here for me? What did I dislike so much about Kansas City? I don't even remember anymore. And I literally can't go back; I don't have the means or any better of a shot finding a job back there anyway.

The transplant is complete, and I'm sewn inside this new city. I am a mismatched organ, and Chicago is rejecting me wholesale.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Fuckin Donuts

At work the other day, a man came through my line with a paper bag from the bakery. These bags are usually used for doughnuts, so I asked him, "How many doughnuts do you have?"

He replied, "They aren't doughnuts."

Sometimes people put rolls or buns from the bakery in these bags instead, so I inquired what was in the bag.

"They're long johns."

Usually when immense stupidity happens upon me while I'm at work, I do my best to ignore it. My face goes slack, my eyes glaze over, and I feel a little bit of my soul sucked out of me and vanish into the ether. For some reason, though, this time I decided to try to educate this poor, misinformed man. "Long johns are a kind of doughnut," I explained.

"No," he replied, "long johns are long." Then, in case I didn't understand the point he was attempting to make, he added "Long johns."

I thought a second, collected his change from the till, and returned, "The thing that makes them all doughnuts is the dough." I handed him his receipt, "Doughnuts."

He didn't say anything in reply, but, then, he didn't have to. After all, he was free roam the earth, probably gainfully employed and with a happy family waiting for him at home, horribly misinformed about doughnuts and uneducated in the basics of rhetoric, while I was stuck working for the minimum wage allowed by law at a place not-ironically named for a wiggling piglet.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Excuses

I had a date with another nice young lady yesterday, or, rather, I should say that I had a date scheduled. She texted me an hour-and-a-half before the date to tell me that her temp agency had called her for a job.

I have no reason to believe she was lying, and to do so would not make me any less disappointed. Assuming that she needed the money more than a date with me makes me feel better than if simply came up with an excuse to get out of it. In one scenario she's just poor (like me) and is subject to regrettable timing, and in the other I'm so unattractive that women regret going on a date with me before it even occurs. For the sake of my fragile psyche -- that construct of ego, daddy issues, and low self-esteem, barely held together with defense mechanisms and duct tape -- I'll stick with the scenario in which she needed some quick cash.

So, I went on the date to the Museum of Contemporary Art by myself. It actually wasn't too bad, though I wish the museum was bigger. Afterward, I wandered around downtown for a while. It was nice to get out of the suburbs.

I suppose this is just another life lesson in disappointment. And I guess I could feel pretty sorry for myself (which I did for a few hours yesterday). But after some careful deliberation, I've decided that instead of sorrow or disappointment, I should go with my old standby: apathetic indifference. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, emotions are dumb and it's best if one doesn't have them.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What the Future Holds

The other day the powers that be at Piggly Wiggly asked me if I wanted to start training to be a customer service supervisor, working at the service desk. It speaks to the poor customer service of the Pig if they chose me -- Mr. McBastard, a guy who would more likely curse at you than give you correct change -- to be their liaison with customers. I said yes, in hopes that they'll give me more money.

The moment they asked me, though, my life flashed before my eyes. Not my life leading up this point, mind you, but a possible path my life could head down: I start working at the service desk, eventually give up on finding a job in the city, at age 30 knock up a 17-year-old bagger, move into her parents' basement, have a couple more kids that suspiciously look like the black guy that works in the deli, and drink myself to sleep every night on a broken La-Z-Boy watching monster truck rallies on pay-per-view.

I don't even like monster truck rallies.

Needless to say, I've become a little daunted with trying to find a job in the city. And the thing that worries me is that I've always been better at complacency and laziness than patience and diligence. That's why this possible future, despite how ridiculous it seems, rings somewhat true. I imagine, though, that Stellar and Happy Time won't let me give up on looking for a job, mostly because I'm sure they'll want me to stop living in their house way before I'm 30.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Keystone

Chicago is definitely a Miller town. Probably half of all the beer I sell at the Piggly Wiggly is a Miller product. Budweiser is in a distant dead-heat for second with Milwaukee's Best and some shitty local brew called Old Style. (This is vastly different from Missouri where Budweiser is definitely the "King of Beers" and The Beast is what the poor kids who can't afford Natty buy.) None of this is too disturbing; I do prefer Bud Light to Miller Lite, but I haven't yet passed up drinking Happy Time's beer. I really don't mind Miller products, and I do get a hankering for High Life every now and then.

What is disturbing, though, is the near absence of Coors products. I don't like Coors Original anyway, but living with Jaysix had gotten me used to drinking Silver Bullets. However, the most upsetting of all is the lack of the most delicious of crappy beers, my mother's milk, a veritable ambrosia: Keystone Light!

So, when I saw that Piggly Wiggly had some 'Stones in stock and that it was on sale, I grabbed the only case there was, hauled it on my shoulder for the 20-minute walk back home, and immediately popped open one of those slender blue and silver cans. It tasted like home.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Like the Deserts Miss the Rain

Stellar recently asked me if I would miss her while she and Happy Time Harry were gone to a family reunion for three days. I mustered up all of the politeness hiding inside of me, and I believe my reply was "Um, sure, I guess," or something similar.

I've never understood women's obsession with being missed. Not one of my dude friends has ever asked me if I missed them, no matter how deep our brolationship* ran. And even if a person (not likely me) did happen to miss a woman, why would she need to know about it, especially before hand? What benefit does this knowledge give her? Does knowing that somewhere out there there's a person desperately wishing he was in her company give her solace? If so, that's a little bit sadistic and a lot bit narcissistic. But me not understanding how women's minds work is probably not a surprise to you, dear reader.

To me, missing someone has little to do with how long we'll be out of contact or how far apart we'll be. I miss someone not because I know I won't see them for a specified period of time, but because I don't know when or if I'll see them again. Time is bearable, but uncertainty makes me uneasy. I miss people I might not see again.

* Brolationship - A totally hetero relationship between two totally hetero bros.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Adventures in Craigslisting, Clarification

I suppose I should make it clear that these communications with Craigslisters that I'm sharing with you are months old, from May, before I came to Chicago. If anyone was worried that I still haven't sold my car, it and any other items I have mentioned are long sold or gotten rid of. Sorry for the confusion.

Monday, July 28, 2008

First Date in a While

A couple days ago I went on the first date I've been on in three years, the previous being the time I took The Magster Magdus to KFC back in April of 2005 (and, yes, I believe we went Dutch). This one was a little more classy.

The nice young lady who had the misfortune of going on a date with me is one of several people with whom I've been irregularly communicating on a dating website. For the most part, I've just been engaging in small talk with the people that I meet on the site -- the usual "What do you do?" and "What are your interests?" type stuff. Several of the ladies seem to be really interesting people, but I've had no real expectation that any of this would result in much.

At the suggestion of Jaysix, though, I asked one young lady out to the movies. However, in true McBastard fashion I didn't ask one of the ladies that I most favored. Instead, I asked someone I really wasn't interested in. Her profile on the site is kind of bland, and I couldn't tell much from her photos. We'd chatted a couple times, but she didn't seem interesting or interested.

Why would I ask out someone I'm not interested in? The thinking was that if I am scared of being rejected (which is usually the case) and intimidated by someone I'm attracted to (which is always the case), I should ask out someone I'm not attracted to. If I'm rejected, no big deal. Like Nothing ventured, nothing gained taken literally. If I'm not rejected, well, then I've at least got a date. This, in theory, should boost my confidence, preparing me for future encounters with ladies I am attracted to. In single-guy-dom this maneuver is known as "slump-busting." Dumb ideas like this are also one of the many reasons single guys are single for so long.

Surprisingly, the lady accepted my invitation. I prepared myself to go downtown to catch a Dark Knight matinee with some chick, make some small talk, and then head back home. Imagine my astonishment when I showed up to the theater and there was an attractive young lady waiting in the lobby for me. As we waited in line for tickets we talked a bit, and I came to realize that what I had assumed was indifference when we were conversing via the interwebs was actually timidity. And when she did speak up, she was actually interesting.

After the movie, I asked, quite suavely, if she "wanted to, like, go do something." She obliged and we went to dinner. After dinner, I asked if she "wanted to walk around or something." She obliged; we went to Millennium Park and watched the Navy Pier fireworks. She walked me back to Union Station and suggested that she wouldn't mind waiting for my train with me. I was more than happy to have her company. What started out as a movie date ended up taking an entire day.

One of my favorite parts of the date, and this may seem counter-intuitive, is that for half of the evening, we just sat there, not talking at all. In my strange, backwards mind this in endearing, so I enjoyed just sitting there with a dumb grin on my face. I worried that I was boring her out of her skull, but she assured me that, despite our mutual silence, she was actually enjoying herself. In fact, she agreed that we should go out again some time.

I guess the moral of the story is ... well, I'm not so good at morals. Maybe it's Dont judge a book by it's cover? Hell, I don't know. The only thing I'm really going to get from all this is that I should listen to Jaysix more often.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Adventures in Craigslisting, Part 6: Captain Obvious

I put my car up for sale at approximately 9:40 in the morning. By 10:21, not even an hour later, I received this email:

From: [Capt. Obvious]
Subject: 1997 Pontiac Grand Am

Let me know if you still have this car for sale.

[Capt. Obvious]

I know that some people don't pull their posts down even after they sell their item, but I think one can usually assume that an item will not be sold within 40 minutes of it being posted. Trying not to sound too condescending, I explained to Capt. Obvious how Craigslist works:

From: [Mr. McBastard]
Subject: RE: 1997 Pontiac Grand Am

I will take the Craigslist posting down once it is sold. As long as it is up, it will be for sale.

--[Mr. McBastard]

I received this response:

From: [Capt. Obvious]
Subject: RE: 1997 Pontiac Grand Am

You're in brookside right?

Well, I know that this guy was just trying to get more information about me and my car. But instead of reading the details that were readily available to him on my Criagslist post, he decided to annoy me instead. One question at a time. I envisioned his next email would be "Is this a Pontiac Grand Am?" and then "Is it a 1997?" and then "Is it a car?" and so on. Plus, at this point, I had already contacted several other Craigslisters and I wasn't up for any more moronic shenanigans.

So, I sent this facetious response:

Please see the attached diagram. [Pictured to the right.]

This was the reply:

[Mr. McBastard],

If you could provide an address and a time I could look at your car tomorrow that would be great too. A simple yes would have been less work for you too.

[Capt. Obvious]

Capt. Obvious's response was surprisingly calm. My following response was not. I'd like to say that there was some excuse for what comes next, but the fact that I'm an asshole will have to suffice.

[Capt. Obvious],

Because you had such difficulty in comprehending some of the basic concepts of my Craigslist post -- that I was indeed selling a car and that I did, in fact, live in Brookside -- I think that simply providing you with my address may prove fruitless and would probably only result in more questions.

To avoid any further confusion, I briefly considered constructing several more diagrams outlining how to get to my house at an appropriate time (complete with cartoon versions of you, myself, and my car). However, in your last email you seemed unappreciative of my previous visual aid, so I quickly abandoned this tack.

So, instead, I propose that you provide me with your address and a time that I could come by tomorrow and lead you to my house. This course of action may be more effort on my part, but it could prove to be better and safer for everyone involved.

--[Mr. McBastard]

But don't worry, dear readers, Mr. McBastard gets his comeuppance:

I can appreciate that while you seem to write very well that you are a little self absorbed. Maybe you have too much time on your hands and in the preparation of your "diagram" you became a little light headed from the effort required. Good luck in your efforts to sell your car and when you're finally able to offload your car you'll be able to go back to your video games, porn and cheetos. I asked a few simple questions and your taking offense to those questions would lead me to believe that while possibly having a high IQ you've put yourself into a life situation that makes you lash out at others because you've been able to squeeze yourself into a pathetic life. Good luck with that [McBastard]

Well, jokes on him; I don't even like Cheetos.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Adventures in Craigslisting, Part 5: The Sob Story

I received the following email the day that I put up the ad for my car:

From: [Cry Baby]
Subject: 1997 Pontiac Grand Am - $500 (Brookside)
i am very interested in your car for a friend of mine that is going though a really bad time right now. She has no money, just totaled the only car they have. She has 2 children one with health problems and they frequently have doctors appointments. I am going to try and help her with getting some kind of transportation. I myself have had a hard time this past few months and really dont have much to help out, but i can do the work on the car, and i can probably come up with about $200 maybe $300 and i will see if she can come up with the rest. She is stuck here in missouri without family or friends.

Unfortunately, the area of my brain that is supposed to feel sympathy is currently occupied (and has been for the past fifteen years or so) admiring round, jiggly boobs. [Links provided for your viewing pleasure.] I guess it makes me an asshole, but I just don't care about the poor, helpless, lonely, single-mother-of-two friend to some also-down-on-his-luck guy who I don't know, who has poor grammar. I put my car up on Craigslist; I didn't give it to the Salvation Army. Sorry.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Adventures in Craigslisting, Part 4: What?

I made mention previously of how poorly worded and spelled some inquiries into buying my car were. The following query, though, is probably the most incomprehensible of the bunch:

From: BAM KATTAN
Subject: 1997 Pontiac Grand Am - $500 (Brookside)
pics plase n locaion

I assume this roughly translates to "Send me pictures, please, and your location."

Perhaps it's just me, but when I'm trying to buy something, anything more expensive than a doughnut really (let along something five hundred times more expensive than a doughnut), I tend to use sentences. And punctuation. And real English words.

I'm glad that he was polite enough to say "please" (I think). Nevertheless, I did not reply.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Adventures in Craigslisting, Part 3: The Low-Baller

This post is still in reference to me attempting to sell my car on Craigslist. It's not that weird; it's mostly just me being a dick.

I received two emails that were simple, straight-forward offers, such as this:

From: [Low-Baller]
Subject: 97 Grand Am
Offer: $250
[Low-Baller]
[phone number]

I replied to this one:

From: [Mr. McBastard]
Subject: RE: 97 Grand Am
Counter offer: NO-fifty

Credit must be given to my friend, Mr. P. Tott, for providing the inspiration for this one.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Adventures in Craigslisting, Part 2: The Jealous Boyfriend

This one is really just an extension of the previous post about Craigslisters asking very difficult questions. It starts out the same, with a brief message requesting me to call them, despite the precedent and ease of electronic communication:

From: [Female Name]
Subject: Car
please call me at [redacted],thank you.
As with the previous set of requests, I called this person hoping that perhaps her questions were so detailed that they could not be answered over such an impersonal medium as email.

When the other end picked up, this is (roughly) the conversation that followed:

Male Voice: Hello?

McBastard: Hello, my name is [Cynical McBastard]. Is [Female Name] available?

MV: What's this about?

McB: [Female name] had contacted me about the car that I'm selling. Is she available?

MV: (suspiciously) How do you know her?

McB: I don't. She just gave me this number to call.

MV: (still suspicious) Do you work with her...? I mean, how does she know you?

McB: We don't know each other. She replied to an ad I have up for a car for sale.

MV: (as if he's caught me in a lie) So, how did you get this number?

McB: (annoyed) She emailed it to me. Is she available or not?

MV: Hold on. (fumbling with the phone) This is my phone. So, wait, she was going to buy your car?

McB: (perturbed) I don't know; that's what I'm calling about. Is she there?

MV: Now hold on. Maybe it was me who emailed you. [Female Name] is my girlfriend, but I buy old cars from time to time.

McB: (completely without patience) So, are you interested in buying a car or not? I really don't understand the problem here.

MV: (scoldingly) Now you listen here!...

At that point, I had had enough of the jealous boyfriend and I wasn't about to let him scold me for being fed up with his jackassery. I hung up.

Jealous Boyfriend called back immediately, but I didn't pick up. He left a message, though, and I wish I'd kept it. To the best of my memory, it went something like this:

I don't know what the hell your problem is. You got a real attitude problem. I am just trying to find out the situation with this car and you keep talking about [Female Name]. I don't know who you are ... who you think you are, but you're not going to sell anything talking to people like that. I just wanted to find out if this was a car I wanted to buy and you got a real attitude. So, to hell with you. Good luck trying to sell your car, buddy!

He was right about one thing: I wasn't going to sell anything.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Endless Possibilities

Last week while cashiering at the Pig, an awkward guy came through my line and started talking to me about what I'd studied in school, what work experience I had, and what I planned to do. I tried to answer his questions politely, but there were other customers waiting in line behind him, so I basically shooed him away.

Not long after, he came back through my line, claiming to have forgotten a few things. He gave me his card, asked me when my next day off was, and told me to come in and meet with him. I took the card and was a little astonished that someone would consider hiring me based on my just-polite-enough attitude I have while cashiering. The card read:

Endless Possibilities
Internet Marketing
Ronald W. Lowe
Owner

endless@katewwdb.com
endless.mychoices.biz
endless.wwdb.biz
888-369-5741
Voice, Fax

When I got home after work that night, I took a look at the websites listed on his card. They seemed like nice websites advertising health and beauty products. But something didn't sit right with me. Why were these websites situated on the ass end of the internet on subdomains of some no-name dot-biz domains? Where was the information about the company itself? Where did I fit into this who thing? So, I sent a quick, concise email to Mr. Lowe asking if he could answer some of my questions:

Mr. Lowe,

My name is [Mr. McBastard]. I was your cashier (twice) at the Piggly Wiggly today. I looked at the websites listed on the business card you gave me, but I'm still not clear on what your business is and what opportunities there are available to me. Please explain to me what you company does and how you think I can help you achieve your goals.

Regards,

[Mr. McBastard]

A couple days later, I received a reply:

Hi [Mr. McBastard]

That depends on what your goals are. When the next customer is waiting to checkout, there isn't much time to talk. You seems to have good people skills but no immediate direction in life. I wanted to meet and learn more about you.

Your email message came across as demanding. Insisting on knowing the value of the meeting before the meeting. What my business is, I would hope, obvious from my website. I market heath, beauty, home products and more on the internet.

Perhaps, we will see each other again at Piggly Wiggly. Best of luck to you.

--
Thank you,

Ronald W. and Renee A. Lowe
Endless Possibilities
193 Cambridge Drive
Grayslake, IL 60030
business: 888-369-5741
fax: 888-369-5741
B2C: www.endless.mychoices.biz
B2C: www.endless.wwdb.biz
B2B: www.rlowe6.ordermygift.com

I was a bit perturbed by this response. Why was asking questions about this guy's business met with scolding? What was this guy trying to hide?

So, I did some digging around his sites and discovered that he is a member of Quixtar, the renamed Amway. I had heard of Amway before, but I only had an inkling that it was some sort of pyramid scheme. I did a little internet research and found that it is indeed a pyramid scheme in which the people higher up the ladder try to recruit new people into the scheme and get them to sell products and recruit people of their own. It's not illegal, though, because you don't have to recruit others to make money, but, through bonuses and incentives, you are highly encouraged to.

Anyway, I wasn't about to get caught up in that sort of bullshit. Plus, the guy had irked me with his condescending response. So, I replied thusly:

Mr. Lowe,

My goal is to find a decent job working for an employer who is straightforward. I also wanted to learn more about you and your company. Your email message came across as secretive. Being abruptly defensive about some simple inquiries into your company and the opportunities within makes it seem like you've got something to hide. So, I did some digging.

I am not interested in getting involved in Quixtar, Amway, or any other pyramid scheme which your company is a part of. I may work at a grocery store for the time being and lack "immediate direction in life," but I am not a sap. Good luck recruiting some other poor schmo to sell junk for you on the internet.

--[Mr. McBastard]

I got this reply today:

Again. best of luck to [Mr. McBastard].

--
Thank you,

Ronald W. and Renee A. Lowe
Endless Possibilities
193 Cambridge Drive
Grayslake, IL 60030
business: 888-369-5741
fax: 888-369-5741
B2C: www.endless.mychoices.biz
B2C: www.endless.wwdb.biz
B2B: www.rlowe6.ordermygift.com

Ah, cheap shot taking the "high road," Mr. Lowe. Now I look like the dick! Oh well, that's well-trodden territory for me.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Too Quiet

I haven't posted anything here in a while, because, well, there's not much to tell. I'm still looking for a job in Chicago (though, last week I did start working at a nearby Piggly Wiggly to pay the bills), my motorcycle's still not fixed, and I'm still living with Happy Time Harry and Stellar.

All in all, not much has happened, but you know me: I'm always up for not doing much of anything. It has been kind of nice aimlessly drifting through the past month or so, carefree. The only down side is that it's been fairly debt-inducing. But that's nothing new for me.

I suppose there are other things about which I could be writing in the meantime. So, I guess I'll try to resume my responsibility of inane blogging with yarns and misadventures. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 16, 2008

First Week in Chicago

I've been in Chicago a week already. I'm settled into my room (and the bathroom and the garage) in Happy Time Harry and Stellar's house in a quiet northern suburb. I haven't been doing much of anything productive except catching up on my sleep and cruising Craiglist. Next week I plan on being more active. I may even start exercising again, but that may be a little too ambitious. I should probably just stick to finding a job.

I had an extensive tour of the city proper given by Shayne and Robb. I can't even remember all of the places and neighborhoods we visited, but it was a lot of fun just to walk around and see and hear what the city has to offer.

And I've already visited "The Bean" in Millennium Park, so I'm almost a full-fledged Chicagoan now. All that's left is for me to eat a Chicago dog, enjoy a deep-dish pizza, and develop a love for one of the baseball teams and a hatred for the other. I'm practically in.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Hungovercast

It's raining, and I can still taste the beer and cigarettes in my mouth, like one last lingering goodbye kiss.

See you around, Kansas City.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Adventures in Craigslisting, Part 1: Difficult Questions

In a vain attempt to sell my car, I put an ad up on Craigslist. Within minutes I got replies. I was a bit confused, though, when several of the replies were simply phone numbers. A couple were literally just the numbers, but a few tried to spruce up their messages with actual words:

Please call me at [redacted]
I want to try and buy your car u can call me at [redacted] or [redacted]
i'm interested in your car could you give me a call @ [redacted]

These were honest inquiries, mind you. They were emailed to me, not texted, so I can assume that the writers had access to a full, standard QWERTY keyboard. I can also assume, with some reservation, that these messages were not written by elementary school children. These messages came from people of legal driving age (and most likely, old enough to vote), and they could not even form enough of a coherent thought, let alone express that thought with proper English, to ask any relevant question about the car itself or how they could go about obtaining said car.

I decide to give these people the benefit of the doubt, though. I hoped that perhaps they were busy and hurriedly firing off emails, and, despite having utilized the internet to find and contact me regarding my item for sale, they chose to disregard this medium of communication because their questions were so detailed and intricate that they were incapable of being translated into the written word.

This was false hope.

When I called some of these people, the most detailed questions I received from any of them were one, if not all three, of the following:

What color is it?
How many doors does it have?
What was wrong with it?
These seem like reasonable questions when you don't take into account that there were four color pictures -- one, a full-length side-view depicting two doors (so one could assume that there is an equal amount on the other side) -- at the bottom of the Craigslist ad that explained, in detail, that there is a major leak in the coolant system. In short, they only wanted to ask me questions to which adequate answers were already available.

As it turned out, not one of them was interested in buying my car. Just wasting my time and cell phone minutes.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Adventures in Craigslisting, Introduction


a typical Craigslist user

I've been attempting to sell some things on Craigslist recently, due to my impending move out of the state. The experience has been, if not lucrative, at least educational.

This simple act of trying to sell some goods has been vastly different from anything I could have ever imagined. You know in that movie Total Recall when Arnold goes to Mars, and living in the bottom part of the city are all these freaks and mutants, and there's the stripper with three boobs and the guy who has a crazy-talking, gross midget/baby poking out of his stomach? It's been kind of like that.

Craigslist is a great place. You can post your resume and look for jobs. You can buy furniture and electronics and sell your useless junk. You can even find a date. All of this is available, free, to anyone with a computer and an internet connection. The only downside is that the same people that you read about in newspapers because they kill themselves in stupid ways, the same people that necessitate instructions on individually wrapped cheese slices, the same people that Jay Leno interviews on the street who can't name the president -- yeah, those people -- they're on Craigslist, too. And not just some of them, apparently, all of them.

By posting an ad on Craigslist, you are essentially displaying a sign to the world that says, "Yes, I'll talk to you, crazy idiot people!" They come out of the woodwork, clamoring to say whatever stupid thing they have to say and asking whatever inane question their limited intellect can come up with. Half the time I don't even think they want whatever it is you're selling; I think they just have a quota of people to annoy and you put up a big, red target on yourself.

So, selling my junk on Craigslist has been more than just an experience; it has been a test. A test of my faith in humanity. That faith is failing. And I'm pretty sure humanity is doomed.

In several posts to follow I am going to share some of the more interesting inquiries I have gotten from average Craigslist users and my prickish replies along with some completely biased commentary. I do hope you'll enjoy.

  1. Difficult Questions
  2. The Jealous Boyfriend
  3. The Low-Baller
  4. What?
  5. The Sob Story
  6. Captain Obvious
  7. Hard Bargains

Sunday, May 04, 2008

McBastard's Last Week in Town

I've been wrapping up my existence here in Kansas City in preparation for moving to Chicago. I finished everything that needed finishing for my job on Wednesday. I said goodbye to The Magster. I had one last drunken bender with the old gang. Now I'm in the process of selling off some unnecessary possessions that I've been dragging around for years and packing up what I really need. In five days I should be ready to hit the road.

I'm finding that it's not hard to leave Kansas City (a little expensive, but not that difficult), but it is hard to leave the people. I've been trying not to make a big deal of my goodbyes, assuring people that I'm not disappearing, that they'll hear from and probably see me again. I give a wry smile and a shrug as if to say, "No big deal." But I'm sure even these cynical, emotionless eyes will mist up before I leave the city limits.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Can't a Guy Buy Beer in Peace?

Guess what short people with "baby faces" hear on at least a weekly basis, usually when purchasing legal, regulated substances?

Do you think it is "I've looked at your government-issued ID and I believe that you are the age you claim." Nope.

Do you think it's "I appreciate that you look young; I wish I looked young as well." Guess again.

Do you think it might be "I choose not to make a comment on your youthful appearance and/or demeanor." Way off!

It's actually "Are you sure you're old enough to buy [regulated substance]? You look like you're [insultingly low age]!"

Awesome! Now I hate you!

Hardly a week goes by that I don't have to practically apologize for looking young or explain that many people make the same mistake of thinking I'm younger than I actually am. I don't mind the actual question, though, so much as the absolute incredulity that comes along with it. If you're seriously in doubt of my age, don't sell me the product. If not, just shut the fuck up about it.

Other related things that annoy me:

  • Bringing a friend/coworker over to gawk at the 15-year-old-looking freakshow (As if being mocked by one person isn't enough.)
  • Triple- or quadruple-checking my ID after a waitress and a bartender (and possibly a bouncer) have sufficiently perused it (You're a bar manager, not the director of Homeland Security.)
  • Telling me that you have a relative or friend that also looks young (Neat! Ask them how much I don't like you right now.)
  • Ask me what my license number or my birth date is (I look even younger on my ID than I do in person. Why would I have a fake ID with a picture of someone even younger than I am?)

Monday, April 21, 2008

"What, like the back of a Volkswagen?"

Kat: im fricking exhausted
Kat: i was up until 6
Mr McBastard: doing?
Kat: having sex?
Kat: in the backseat of a car...
Kat: oh my dignity

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Clothes

I own entirely too many clothes. This is not because I'm fashionable; in fact, I'm far from it. I actually just don't like doing laundry very often.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Moving to Chicago

Citing reckless immaturity and a lack of responsibility, I've decided to quit my job and move to Chicago. I've already put in my two weeks at work and made plans to stay with Stellar and her husband for a while. Now all I have to do is actually get there.

A couple months ago I had started looking for a new job -- mostly in KC, but I applied to a few in Chicago. I told myself that I wasn't going to start looking for a new apartment (My lease is up in May.) until I found a new job. I wasn't even going to consider Chicago unless I had a firm foothold there.

Well, I had gotten a little disheartened recently because I wasn't getting much of a response -- only one interview. But recently (as in yesterday) I decided that I was thinking about this whole job thing the wrong way: I had been looking for a career instead of a life in which I had a job.

This realization came to me during a conversation I had with Stellar as she tried to convince me to move to Chicago:

Stellar: The chicks are hotter in Chi-town
Mr. McBastard: oh yeah?
Stellar: It's a better city for getting drunk, watching live baseball, and wandering around the streets with all the other happy drunk fans
Mr. McBastard: i wouldn't mind hotter chicks or public intoxication, but it's the job thing that's driving me right now
Mr. McBastard: as i typed that i got kind of sad
Stellar: Why?
Mr. McBastard: i'd rather have my life based on chicks and booze than a job
Stellar: hahahaha
Stellar: Welcome to being a grownup
Mr. McBastard: this blows
Stellar: Indeed

And it's true. I'm not ready (Will I ever be?) to devote myself to my job and settle into a career. I'm not a care-free kid anymore, but I'm not exactly old either. I'll have the rest of my life to be serious about my work and make money. Right now, I just want to do something I don't absolutely hate and be with people I absolutely love.

It's not like I haven't done this is Kansas City already. So, why move? Well, why not? It's like that saying with the varieties and the spices and whatnot. I'll see what Chicago's like until I get bored with it, and move to the next city. Or maybe not. Who knows? At least I'll be doing something interesting.

So, to the people I'm leaving behind: Keep in touch. To the people I'm going toward: Get ready. And the the people every place else: Visit me some time; we'll do something rash and irresponsible together.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Photo Backlog

I didn't realize until this weekend that I had such a backlog of pictures on my camera; I had pictures on there from before Christmas. I finally uploaded them to Flickr. Here are some highlights:


Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Intarwebtubes Make You Stupid

Internetter 1: "Here is something interesting I found or perhaps a unique perspective on an observation."

Internetter 2: "That thing also interests me, and here is a comment about how I agree or disagree with your statement."

Internetter 3: "I think one or maybe both of you are wrong, and I can't possibly conceive of why your opinions differ from mine."

Internetter 1: "Instead of taking the time to address the points of either of your arguments, I will dissect your grammar and nitpick your choice of words, thus rendering your opinions invalid."

Internetter 2: "I will also avoid the original topic and will speculate on your sexuality, relationship with your parents, and your masturbatory habits."

Internetter 3: "I HAVE BEGUN TYPING IN ALL CAPS AND USING AN INORDINATE AMOUNT OF PUNCTUATION!!!! I WILL MAKE THREATS OF VIOLENCE THAT I COULD NEVER ACTUALLY CARRY OUT TO ANYONE WHO DOESN'T VIEW THE WORLD EXACTLY AS I DO!!!11!!!"

Internetter 1: "Arguing on the internet is beneath me, and I refuse to take part in these childish ramblings, except to say that you are both dickweeds, I hate you, and fuck off."

Internetter 2: "Your avoidance of the issue at hand has frustrated me to the point of trying to find a parallel between what you have said and what Hitler and the Nazis might have believed. If you don't find this relevant, then you can bite my ass."

Internetter 3: "I FUCKED YOUR MOM!"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sad in Pants

Religassholes like this make me sad in my spiritual pants.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Grow Up Faster

My brother turned ten years old. "Double digits," my mother said. "We'll should have bought a bigger cake to fit all these candles on!" I was jealous. I was still counting my birthday in this-manys.

"It's like Quantum Leap!" my step-father exclaimed. "You're growing up fast!" I was growing up, too, but it was just taking so long. My seventh birthday wouldn't be for another three months. That's three forevers in kid years.

My brother's tenth birthday was a big milestone in my life because that is the first time I can remember wanting to be older, to grow up faster -- a wish I now regret ever making.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Wishful Thinking

So, I went to 7-11 the other day looking for condoms. Wishful thinking, I guess. Anyway, I'm in the ailse with the medicines and tampons and stuff, and there's no condoms. I mean, this is 7-11. How convenient is it to not have any condoms in a convenience store?

So, I must have looked confused because the lady behind the counter asked me if I was looking for something. "Do you guys sell any condoms?"

"Yeah, I have them back here," she said reaching behind the counter.

She plopped down a big brown box in front of herself. "Wow," I said, "a whole crate? I'll take it!" She chuckled and I sidled up to counter and peered into the box. There were several dozen three-packs of all different kinds. I was kind of overwhelmed and a little embarassed of having to pick out my condoms in front of a stranger. "So many to chose from. Which do you recommend?"

"Well, uh, I don't know..."

"Sorry," I said, "that's a pretty creepy question."

"No, it's just that I have a girlfriend, so I really wouldn't know."

"Oh, well, there ya go."

So, the story ends with me not buying any condoms there, because obviously a three-pack won't be enough.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Emotion Store

Mr. McBastard: why do you hate me?
Stellar: I don't hate you, I love you
Mr. McBastard: love me with hate!
Stellar: Nope, just love. I've tried hating you before, but it never worked
Mr. McBastard: you should have taken it back to the store and gotten a refund
Stellar: I did, but all they would do was give me store credit, and all they had in stock was love
Mr. McBastard: *rolls eyes*

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield

The web comic garfield minus garfield is not just a parody of the famous Jim Davis newspaper strip, subtracting the titular beloved cat. It somehow transcends it's gimmick and intriguingly becomes an eerily accurate portrayal of the pathetic and lonely life of a hopelessly single man. To put it simply: It is pure genius!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Oil vs Ethanol

I didn't even think of the most obvious downside to relying too heavily on ethanol instead of oil.

So, what relying on ethanol gives us:

  • Less dependence on foreign oil (making oil less expensive) BUT
    • Increased water consumption (making water more expensive)
    • Increased costs in feeding livestock (making meat more expensive)
    • Less corn available for food (making corn more expensive)
  • "Cleaner" car exhaust (debatable) BUT
    • More fuel production plants (who knows what their by-products are?)
  • Increased "consumer confidence" in an American market BUT
    • Reliance on just as unsustainable a practice as relying on oil

Why don't we focus on the root of the problem -- consuming less fuel -- instead of developing quick fixes?

Long-term fixes:

  • Don't bargain with OPEC to get them to sell us cheap oil (if people realize that it IS expensive, maybe they'll stop using so much)
  • Promote using less fuel (if there was an iPod equivalent to a fuel-efficient car, you bet your ass people would want them)
  • Tax breaks for those using less fuel, and increased taxes for those that want to use ridiculously more car than they need
  • Limit the population increase in the US (less people, less consumers) -- a personal favorite, but not likely to go over well

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Accomplishment

My once-and-present roommate and I sat next to the chimenea, I sipping on my Drambuie and Bushmills, and he tossing twigs into the blaze. The flames danced, the wood smoked, and the fire crackled, as fires are wont to do. The chimenea and my roommate took turns spitting, one, glowing embers, and the other, tobacco-flavored saliva from the dip bulging against his bottom lip.

We talked about where we were, where we were going, and why we were disappointed about not being there yet. In the silence in between words we'd alternately wonder at the complexities of the chemical reaction belching heat at us and at the expanse of the semi-obscured star field above. We discussed little, mostly rehashing previous days and past themes, and ultimately accomplished nothing. And I felt remorse that I hadn't accomplished more nothing in recent days.

But a me from the past -- whether distant or recent, I couldn't tell -- snuck up on me, shaking his head and signing, so disappointed. Why wasn't I what he'd envisioned by now? He'd had such high hopes for me; why had I dashed them? Had he worked in vain? Had he taught me nothing?

A cigarette glowed like a beacon, a warning, so close to my fingers and an inch from my lips. I flicked it into the flames and watched as it was eaten.

Would my future self disappoint me? I've got so many plans and ideas. Would he live up to my --

A reprimand shot back from the future and struck my cheek. Why don't you mind your own business and pay attention to what's happening around you? I've got enough to deal with up here without you bitching and moaning about how I'm not doing what you'd hoped. Did you ever think that maybe you are a disappointment to me?

I hadn't.

I lit another cigarette. I took another drag. I drank another swallow. I looked up at the sky and down at the fire. And I accomplished nothing. And I smiled.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Good Bad Haircut

I don't like getting haircuts. It's not that I don't like the physical act of getting my hair cut -- I actually find it pretty calming, as long as the barber isn't trying to make me talk about whatever inane subject they happen to care about -- it's the result of the haircut that I'm not a fan of. Basically, every time I get my haircut I feel as though I'm paying someone to make me look stupider.

My hair and I have an interesting relationship. For the most part, I let him do his thing, and he lets me do mine. I water and bathe him regularly, and he ... Well, I'm not sure what he does for me besides keep my head warm, but I'm usually not too worried about.

I like to have my hair short in the summer and shaggy and curly for the rest of the year. When it gets too shaggy it starts to tickle my neck, so I know it's time for a haircut. This is where things start to go wrong.

I guess it's because I don't know the hair lingo, because when I say something to the barber about how I want my hair to look, they promptly ignore me and give me whatever the fuck haircut they feel like. I say something like "Cut the back, but leave the top long," or "Just trim up around my neck and ears." Invariably, I come away with about an inch of hair on the top and half that in the back.

I guess barbers just want to give my my money's worth by making my hair short enough that I don't have to come in for another three months. But seriously, I wanted shaggy hair. It might not be the best hairstyle, but it's what I wanted, and it took me a while to grow it out that way. Now it's short and I look like a tool. Thanks, barber. Here's your fifteen bucks.

So, exasperated by all of this, I went to a barber yesterday. I plopped down in the seat, and when she asked me how I'd like my haircut, instead of going through the whole rigmarole -- telling her what I wanted, her not caring, me smiling into the mirror and saying, "It looks pretty good," when I actually am wondering where all my hair went, and then paying her -- I just said, "Eh, just make it shorter."

I think she caught on that I have no idea what kind of haircut would make me look good. So, instead of asking me the regular barber questions that I never know how to answer ("What clipper guard do you want me to use?" or "Do you want a block or taper in the back?"), she told me what she was going to do. She looked at my head, ran her hair through my mop, and made expert decisions instead of leaving it up to me. She told me that I should cut the back to just under an inch because that's when it starts to get wavy. She told me I should get it tapered in the back because it matches my hairline. She told me that I should cut my sideburns to half-way down my ear to not hide my jawline. I just sat back and said, "That sounds good."

So, when all was said and done, I walked away not with the haircut that I wanted, but what I do have does look pretty good for what it is. I'd have to say that it's one of the better bad haircuts that I've gotten.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

White Rice

My roommates gave me guff at dinner for putting soy sauce on my rice. Granted, it was already buttered, but if you're not supposed to put soy sauce on plain, white rice, what are you supposed to put it on? What else is it good for?

But I guess I shouldn't be too worried as this hullabaloo came from a guy who has a phobia of drinking milk with pasta and another guy who uses cream of mushroom soup as a major ingredient in almost everything he cooks.

So, am I the weird one? Anyone have anything weirder that they do with their food?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Google Reader

I've been using Google Reader for a couple months now. It's a decent feed reader, and it fits into my recent trend of trying anything and everything web-based. (I dabble with Google Docs and I love Pandora.)

My only complaint with Google Reader is the search functionality. Despite there being advanced search operators in every other type of Google search, there is no such functionality in the Google Reader search. Even in Gmail, which relies on the same concept of starred items and using labels instead of folders, one can search for items with multiple labels. For example, in Gmail I could search for is:starred label:family "visit Joe" if I wanted to find all messages that were starred, had the family label applied, and contained the text "visit Joe."

This is not possible in Google Reader. It is possible to search for a certain text string within all of one given label or within the starred items, but not both at the same time, and not multiple labels at once. I can't understand why the Reader designers didn't include this functionality.

I'm sure it's not as easy as cutting and pasting the code from the Gmail search, but it can't be too hard, can it? Or is this just a feature that they didn't think to implement, despite Reader following the exact same label/star paradigm as Gmail?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Legitimate Governmental Issues

My once-and-present roommate, Jaysix Usaustin, sent me this email at work yesterday:

According to CNN, these constitute all of the election issues:

I've divided them into categories based on my own criteria and color coded them across categories, based on current popular conception of the issues.

Red =           fear-based
Green =         entitlement-based
Blue =          religiously-based
Black =         legitimate governmental issue, 
                regardless of circumstance

Moral
Abortion
Same-sex Marriage
Stem Cell Research

Social
Education 
Guns
Health Care
Immigration
Social Security

Terrorism
Homeland Security
Iran
Iraq

Economic
Economic Stimulus
Free Trade
Housing
Taxes 
Energy

Environmental
Environment

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Truth, Lies, and Bullshit

On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt is an interesting essay on, well, bullshit. Basically, in grandiose terms, Frankfurt defines bullshit as communication that has no regard for the truth, but may not necessarily be a lie. From the essay:

Through excessive indulgence in [bullshitting], which involves making assertions without paying attention to anything except what it suits one to say, a person's normal habit of attending to the ways things are may become attenuated or lost. ... [The bullshitter] does not reject the authority of truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Selling Things for Free

Kevin Kelly of The Technium has an interesting article, Better Than Free, about the future of selling content.

The sooner content producers (the television, music, movie, book, etc. industries) realize that their old business model is quickly losing steam and the copyright system as a whole is becoming less and less relevant, the quicker they can adopt, what Kelly calls the "Eight Generatives." Basically, these eight properties are the things that make the content you buy worth buying.

The idea is that, instead of producing a steady stream of mostly worthless content, content producers would focus on making their content desirable to and available for consumers that wanted what they were making. In short: Quality over quantity.

Unfortunately, I don't see this happening too quickly. In our country it's easier to have your lobbyist strong-arm stop-gap legislation that protects your interest through Congress than it is to see what's coming next and ride the wave of the future.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Little-Known Facts about Nanotechnology

To demonstrate why nanotechnology is morally unacceptable, I have compiled a list of little-known facts about nanotechnology:

  1. The only way to manufacture nanotechnology is to chop up living human feti, along with the mothers carrying them
  2. The bird flu was caused by nanotechnology gone awry
  3. If allowed to exist, nanotechnology will put 100 million U.S. workers out of their jobs
  4. Terrorists use nanotechnology to convert regular middle-eastern people into Muslim extemists
  5. Nanotechnology will encourage virtuous young girls to participate in pre-marital sex
  6. Nanotechnology can and will be used to control your thoughts and emotions
  7. Nanotechnology is racist
  8. John Hinkley, Jr. was acting under the influence of nanotechnology when he attempted to assassinate President Reagan
  9. Nanobots are tiny man-made demons that the government will inject into your brain and scrotum
  10. Nanotechnology causes loose bowel movements

Again, please don't believe everything you read.

Paid for by the people who brought you little-known facts about cloning.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Truth About Kansas City

How many more Missourians have to suffer needlessy, simply because of ignorance? Help raise awareness about this important issue. Knowledge is power.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Conversations with Josh

A guy at work called me Josh. He knows my name. I was one of the first people he met at the company. I trained him for two days. I sit no more than fifteen feet away from him. He smiles and greets me by my name, my real name, when I pass him in the halls.

He came to my desk the other day to ask me if something was possible for us to do. I told him it was not, and he returned to his cube. When he got back, I overheard him explain into the phone to someone else, "No, I talked to Josh; he said it can't be done."

The next time he talks to Josh, he needs to tell that guy to quit following me!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Handicapped Restroom

I take a bathroom break and stroll into the men's room. Both stalls are full.

I walk down the hall to the handicapped restroom, still feeling slightly guilty despite there being no one even close to handicapped on the entire floor, besides the guy with the broken leg.

The locking door, the shiny feminine hygiene products dispensing machine, my own personal mirror; the handicapped restroom is so clean, large, and luxurious. I lounge on the oversized can.

There is a pink envelope on the toilet paper dispenser next to me. I open it. Inside there is a card, a sympathy card. And inside that there is a note. I unfold it and read it. It is not mine, but I read it.

The toilet seat is chilly in the cool bathroom air. The note is typed. Laserjet black letters, spaced evenly across each line and down the page, attempt to warm the heart with serif sympathies and Times New Roman condolences. I finish the note and refold and replace it into the dainty pink envelope.

I contemplate the universality of human suffering and the manufactured distance we keep between us. I wonder why others struggle so hard to become close to someone, anyone, while I revel contently with my emotional absence. Why should departure feel so much like death? Why should I feel more sorry for the letter's writer than its reader. And how could I possibly compare my angsty heartbreak with the mourning of a departed loved one? I feel small and all-knowing. I feel comforted in my loneliness. I feel alive and undead and forsaken and reborn.

Through my hands hot tears fall onto the underwear stretched between my ankles. I sniffle at the trickle of sap-like snot creeping out of my nostril like a slow molasses, a gradual bitter epiphany. I lift my head and feel an all-peace, a sad-but-comforting religious realization, the nature of which I imagine is out of my realm of comprehension. Or perhaps it's just exhaustion, or apathy. I don't pretend to know the difference.

A final push and I'm free of all the waste left in my body. I wipe all appropriate orifices with the rough, industrial toilet paper afforded the plebeians, resituate my clothes, and wash my hands. I exit the handicapped restroom and return to work.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Dying for Health Insurance

I like the reasoning in this short article by Kevin Drum of CBS News entitled Living Without The Health Insurance Industry.

I'm usually for more free-market solutions than government intervention, but Drum's idea of getting rid of the unnecessary middleman and putting the burden of competition on the doctors and hospitals does sound appealing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

They Are This Guy

This article is pretty much exactly what I was talking about with this post. Some of the comments are pretty good, too. This is an exerpt from my favorite:

I cannot count the number of firm partners who say "we don't have anyone behind us to really lead the firm in the next generation" and it doesn't mean there aren't good people, but it does indicate the most courageous (least complacent) and innovative have left. They are this guy.

Or, even if he stays in the firm, somewhere around the 6th, 7th or 8th year, if he decides to take the "partner path" he may likely subconsciously pack his "change" and "better way" mentality or at least his "speaking up about it" mentality into a box and put it aside...in order succumb and adapt to the "accepted" partner behavior, emulating existing management traits so he more closely resembles the management team he'll strive to become part of. I see this every day.

I'm glad to know that it's not just me that all-too-quickly became disenfranchised with the great inadequacies and inefficiencies of corporate America. Unfortunately, the only solution I can see is either a major shift in corporate management thinking (not likely, since this would imply that management does think) or a mass extinction (I can only hope).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Woe Is Me

I think the only thing worse than being dumped is getting the flu immediately thereafter. There's nothing to do but sit around, watch movies, cough, and feel sorry for myself. Well, that, and write on my blog about how pathetic I feel. Eh, at least I get a couple days away from work.

And, yes, in case you were wondering, this is a desperate plea for pity, so please shower me with your poor babys and your get betters and your :(s. (I'm not joking. I expect there to be at least three comments wishing me well within the next twenty-four hours!)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lesbian Lizards

Kansan 1: D'you hear about them damn lesbian lizards, them female ko-mo-do dragons or some such that's fornicatin' with one anothern?

Kansan 2: Shore did. There ought to be a law again' it. They're just out there, flaunting their "alternative lifestyle" and their sodomy like God ain't watchin'.

Kansan 1: They're corruptin' the moral fabric of America's what they're doin'! Now all these kids in school are gonna think it's alright to be a gay dragon when it is clearly against God's plan.

Kansan 2: Y'know, I wouldn't be surprised if it was homo-sec'shul reptiles that made God mad enough to allow nine-eleven to happen to his own country. Wouldn't be surprised 'tal.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Broken

The Magster and I have broken up. Well, I guess more accurately, she broke up with me. It just figures, you know, that the day you buy your beautiful girlfriend a Valentine's Day gift is the day she dumps you.

Seriously, though, that was just for dramatic effect; I'm really not mad at her. (Am I supposed to be?) I am sad and remorseful and hurt, but I'm not angry with her.

And I hope she's not angry with me. I know it was hard on her to dump me. And I know the cavalier way in which I handled (and via this post, am still handling) the whole thing didn't make things any easier. Actually, in a weird sort of way, I'm proud of her for not letting me hold her back. She's always been stronger than she gave herself credit for.

I knew it was coming eventually, because she had more or less told me so over the past few months. She was unhappy. I wasn't helping things. I was complacent with our relationship, content to just coast along.

I did put some effort into avoiding a break-up, but, looking back, I think I knew even then that I wasn't willing to do everything necessary to keep her and that I was only stringing her along with promises and non-committal answers. That's the part that I regret, and I hope she forgives me for wasting her time. I was selfish; I wanted to love her for only as long as I could easily do so.

Without getting into the specifics, we split up because we have different ideas about what direction our relationship should take. In fact, I'm not exactly sure what that means, and I'm fairly certain she doesn't either. And that's our problem. Neither of us knows exactly what we or the other wants. And for my part, I'm too lazy and self-involved right now to find out on either account.

When the Beatles sang that all you need is love, I'm pretty sure that they were wrong. I think you also need a goal. I think you need something to focus on and work towards. Because without a goal, you're just two kids aimlessly wandering, wondering what's next. In our case, I think we wandered away from each other and got to two different what's nexts. Maybe some day we'll both wander in the same direction again and find the same what's next. I would like that.

But, in the meantime, I think we have to be living cliches and go out and "find ourselves." (I hate myself for writing that.) I, for one, need to figure out what exactly it is I want to do with my life: Am I a writer? Am I a corporate career man? Am I going to do something that makes me happy or am I going to just grin and bear it?

And, while I'm throwing around cliches, I hope that The Magster and I do remain friends. Out of the friends I have, she is one of my best. She has a way of calming me down (even though it probably didn't show) when I am irrationally angry, and she was the first person I can remember feeling immediately comfortable around.

So, I guess that is how it ends. A smile. A kiss. A goodbye.

I will miss you.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Long Day

Thomas stepped through his apartment doorway, dripping water onto his welcome mat. He dropped his tool bag down to his side. It landed with the damp thud of dead fish. His cold, wet clothes stuck to his skin, and he shivered as he slowly walked to his bathroom, squishing with every step. The pipe in the basement had burst again. Fortunately, he'd been home when it happened this time. Unfortunately, he'd been passed out next to his coffee table in his underwear at eleven in the morning when the tenets came banging on his door to inform him about it.

Thomas decided that the best thing for being cold, wet, and hung-over was a shower. However, by the end of the shower, he found that only one of those conditions had changed and that he should probably get some coffee before setting out for the local hardware store to get a permanent replacement for his temporary piping fix.

On his way toward the coffee shop he noticed he had a new voicemail message. The message played: "Thomas, it's me, Alex. I'm here with Miranda. She just informed me of the actions you took last night without getting the permission of or even informing the rest of the team. I'm disappointed and appalled.

"I appreciate your … enthusiasm … and your … conviction … but this is not the way we do business. We are crime fighters. This is exactly the kind of action we are supposed try to prevent.

"Now, I know you've been on edge since the incident with the Long-Arm Lady – we all have – but that does not justify your actions! You are out of line and out of control. We just can't tolerate this kind of behavior.

"I think you're a danger to the team, and, frankly, a danger to yourself. I think we'd be better off without you on the team; I'm afraid we're going to have to let you go."

Thomas stood with his head against a building, his phone to his ear, trying simultaneously not to vomit and to comprehend this message. Am I being fired … from being a superhero?

"Oh, and I'm going to need that suit back." The message ended.

"No fucking way," Thomas mumbled as he continued on his way to the coffee shop. He plodded down the sidewalk and pulled out his pack of cigarettes from his pocket. It was empty. This is going to be a long day.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Motorcycle Information

For those of you that have asked, and also for those of you that haven't, here are the specs on my motorcycle:

MakeAlphaSports (Hyosung)
ModelGV250
Year2003
Enginev-twin, 250cc
Colorburnt orange

Pictures to follow.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

My First Bike

I bought a motorcycle yesterday. I'm pretty excited about it; well, as excited as I get about things.

I'm hoping that a motorcycle will save me money not only on gas, but also on maintenance. I'm hoping it will also save me on stress. My car hasn't really been that reliable ever since I got it: Multiple batteries inexplicably dieing, tensioners mysteriously falling off, transmission fluid leaks, coolant system leaks, broken power windows, a rear-view mirror that wouldn't stay on. The car has pissed me off fairly consistently for the last three years. And not just because it tends to fall apart.

I've had a shittier, less reliable car -- Grumbles, the 1982 Dodge Omni -- but it was at least consistent in its shittiness. It made no promises of working well or getting me where I needed to go. I wasn't surprised when its muffler fell off or upset when the driver side door stopped opening. It was what it was.

I bought the Grand Am, my current car, to replace my old, unreliable clunker. It wasn't even ten years old when I got it, and it started to fall apart within the first month of me owning it. It was a constant disappointment to me until about a year ago when I decided I would just run it into the ground. I've tried to think of it more like I did about Grumbles, but the Grand Am just doesn't have the same charm. That, and I'm still bitter. Long story short, I'll be glad to ditch my car and start riding my bike

Motorcycles seem so much more accessible than cars. Cars have so many moving parts that can fail, and everything is crammed under the hood or slapped up underneath where it's hard to reach. On motorcycles, you're staring right at the engine whether you like it or not. Everything is fairly straight forward, and I feel like I could actually learn to repair a bike, unlike staring at my oft-broken cars in wonderment and confusion.

So, getting the bike was step one. Step two is getting my permit. And steps three through forty-seven are, collectively, the daunting task of negotiating the DMV to get it titled and licensed and whatnot. Then comes the step in which I try to learn to ride it without breaking my neck. I'll keep you posted.

Circa Now