Friday, December 18, 2009

dogs

Who doesn't love dogs? What's not to like about Man's Best Friend? Who doesn't like their Best Friend? Dogs are great! They bark, they drool, they smell, they bark at night, they kill small children, they bite, and they eat you when you're dead. Who doesn't love dogs?

I kid, I kid. I love dogs. Some of my best friends are dawgs. I think dogs are great. G-R-E-A-T. I in no way hold a major grudge against them for that time that I finally got to talk to the cute girl down the street, and one of their species (owned by her) came and harassed me, which in no way caused me to flee screaming like a sissy little girl while said dog pursued and bit me1. No. I don't hate them forever because of that.

Dogs. Dawgs. Seriously, do you think that would bother me? Just because she never spoke to me again? Hot girl not speaking to me? Puh-lease. Happens all the time. I don't blame you for my socially awkward middle school phase. Not. In. The. Least.

Naaaaahhh, I love 'em. I've had a lot of exposure to dogs over the course of my life. Most of my exposure to dogs consists of exposure to their main product. To my best estimates, I've hauled approximately one hundred and twenty pounds2 of dog poo in my life, some of it with a stolen shovel of the neighbor's3, but most with ridiculously thin plastic that could not have possibly been adequate protection against the vileness of their feces. And yes, this is another great subject to broach in conversations. "I used to pick up poo in thin plastic baggies! How about you? Want to shake my hand?"

Why so much exposure to dog poo? Well, in some families, the mom refuses to get a dog unless the kids promise to clean up after it. Well, my mom was much too smart for that, because she knew we would never clean up after it. However, the rest of the parents on the block one-upped my mom by making their kids first promise to teach the dog to poo on the Perry's lawn. Brilliant. I think, to this day, the dog next door hasn't pooed on its own lawn.

I am thus the foremost expert on dog poo. Dog poo does amazing things. It turns grass green. It attracts flies. It migrates to my lawn. But most amazing of all, it is durable. You step in dog poo?4 Good luck getting that out of your shoe. I think sneaker designers, in a truce with carpet cleaners worldwide, specifically put in dog poo traps in order to facilitate the tracking of dog poo on floors across the nation.

I'm not only an expert on the poo end of dogs, however. You'll be happy to hear that I also managed to get a dog to pee in my shoe once. While I was wearing it5.

Dogs have other great qualities. For example, girls love dogs. Maybe if you love the same thing, she'll love you too. Right?6 That kind of logic never breaks down. Unrelatedly, I love Twilight!

Even with their expertise in poo production and corner on the market of female love, dogs are some of my favorite animals. The list of favorites probably goes like this: rubber duckies, cows, ducks, penguins, geese, basically every mammal except dogs, fictional animals like sphinxes, invertebrates, flaming scimitars, fish, flesh-eating bacteria, dogs, and mosquitoes7.

That being said, be nice to dogs, in absence of any love that I could show them. Her name was Sarah, and you took her from me!8

1. He only got my shirt, as my possibly-a-tiny-bit-panicked flight may have been faster than his. And yes, I may have been over the age of eight. Possibly over the age of twelve. Maybe fifteen. I'm done talking about it.
2. I figure twenty weeks of lawn mowing a summer, about six summers worth of mowing, and about a pound of poo a week, give or take.
3. Yeah, I don't feel bad for keeping the shovel they left on my lawn. Read on.
4. You havin' dog poo problems, I feel bad for you son; I got ninety-nine cleaners but a canine fecal matter remover ain't one. Sorry. Couldn't help it.
5. This was in Argentina, while going door to door, speaking to people about the church. Yeah, my buddy watched it, laughed, and didn't say a word until we were moving on. Thanks dude. I appreciate it. Love you too.
6. Note: I know that at least pretending to love doesn't work.
7. Cows hold a special place in my heart for their providing of cheese, milk, ice cream, butter, yogurt, and steak. And no, flesh-eating bacteria and flaming scimitars really aren't animals, but if they were, that's where they would stand.
8. I'd like to take this time to publicly thank the individual responsible for the giant mass of poo that I stepped in outside of my flat today, which is the inspiration for today's post. Thank you. No, it's cool to leave excrement in a pile where I walk. Love it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

conversations

Seeing as how it's the holiday season, it's probably a good time of year to review the rules behind making good conversation. It's currently the D-Day of the conversation wars--you are being dropped in behind enemy lines and put through a series of work parties, school parties, family parties, neighborhood parties, people who claim to be family parties, and church parties. You need to hone your conversation skills, lest you find yourself stuck in a group of people talking about modern art with nothing to contribute1.

A good friend of mine has a book called the Art of Mingling. Obviously the author doesn't know what she's talking about, because mingling isn't an art, it's a science, with a series of laws and rules. Like all sciences, respectable scientists have reached a consensus on these laws, and spend their time emailing each other the best ways to suppress contradictory evidence or disguise data.

Without further ado, the keys to good conversations:

Begin with an insult

It's a good idea, when you're in the get-to-know-you phase, to show you are capable of insulting anyone just to make yourself look better. For example, after learning your interlocutor's home state, you could speak about how you lived in there once, and refer to that state's residents as "poor, sheltered people"2. This is sure to win you friends. This will not, under any circumstances, produce a very awkward silence, wherein there are no polite words that can be said in return.

Seek to maximize the nice to other words ratio

That isn't referring to your ratio: it refers to the other person's. When you're engaged in speaking, get them to use as few words as possible. When you notice them repeating one word over and over again at random intervals, you know you've got them eating out of your hand. The fact that the dude across from you just keeps saying nice and nodding his head doesn't mean that his mind is desperately pulling out all stops, trying to keep him from dropping comatose on the floor, driven to catatonic peace by your purely inane babble. It probably means that he thinks what you're talking about (the few words he can catch, that is, because it's noisy in there) is just really nice. Nice. Nice. Nice.

Talk about movies they've never seen

Suppose you have a quote from a movie or a T.V. show they've never seen, and you make a passing reference to it, which isn't understood. Don't let them go without explaining the whole quote, scene, plot, and your reactions to it. Tell them how much they have to see the movie they now know everything about. In fact, go out of your way to make references to these obscure media items, just so you can explain them. People love learning. It's not like they intentionally avoided seeing that movie because it looked like the kind of thing only half-eaten drunken snails would appreciate. Enlighten them.

Ask if they know people you know

If they went to Penn, ask them if they knew people living in Philadelphia. Ask by name. Ask people from New York if they knew someone who lived there in the summer of 2005. Keep asking. Don't give up until you find a common connection. There is no limit to the number of unsuccessful 'do you know' questions you can ask3.

Make references to inside jokes

This is best done when the person you are speaking to isn't in on the inside joke. When you ascertain this fact, you then have a free ticket to explain, over the course of the next ten minutes, said inside joke. When your partner starts slobbering and even a pace maker won't keep his/her heart beating, remove any blame from yourself by stating, "I guess you had to be there"4.

Speak about your illnesses

This is especially true while eating. If you don't have illnesses, maybe you could speak about other people's problems. If you're a doctor, you've got all sorts of material to cover during the main course. For example, if you just returned from a three hundred mile bike ride, you could explain, in detail, the puss-oozing rash you were consulted on during the ride.

Talk about controversial issues like everyone in the group agrees

There are a number of topics you could broach with this, but some common ones would be gay marriage, global warming, who you voted for, income redistribution, and the uselessness of all pets5. The least awkward conversations out there occur when someone takes a very strong stance on an issue, then implies everyone else agrees.

Don't say these things

Now that I've run out of pros, let's just do a quick listing of the cons. That is, things you probably shouldn't say:

  • Your newborn looks like a gremlin
  • Are you planning on going to the fireside or crossing the plains in that dress?6
  • What color are their hands now?7

I wish you luck in the wilds of the conversation hinterland. May your lips be loquacious, and your discussions divine.

1. Yeah, the dangling modifier was intentional. Apologies to anyone who thinks modern art has something to contribute. If you disagree with me, and are also female, single and attractive, I am, of course, joking. I love modern art. It's wonderful stuff. Hanging a urinal upside down DEFINITELY qualifies as art.
2. To the girl who just did that: though I didn't want to talk to you after that, I was in awe of your pluck.
3. The limit is one. In this particular conversation, I think the dude asked about ten separate people. The answer was always no. To that dude: I never want you to hear you ask a 'do you know' question ever again, but I have to admire your unflappability. Since world war one has nobody been so determined to expend resources uselessly.
4. When you say this, you have failed as a conversationalist. This, apparently, isn't common knowledge. To be sure, I say it myself all the time, but I am aware of the implications, and I then get to stop talking.
5. Okay, so that's the one I always mess up on. I'm sorry. I'm not a bad person, even if I wouldn't shed a tear if every noisy dog on the planet died. And I'm not a bad person if I've thought of schemes to that effect. And I'm not a bad person if I've impleme...errr, thought about implementing said schemes. Yeah.
6. In my defense, she had been rude to me, I was tired, and the dress was supremely flowery. She never spoke to me again.
7. The avid muppets fan will recognize this as a response to the statement, "we'll catch them red handed!" Though funny when spoken by a puppet, it loses some of the hilarity when voiced by an awkward sixth grader in class. This can only result in a very marked loss in any sort of coolness that might have been held, as the inordinately silent class listens to a stern teacher give a stinging rebuke, focused on maturity. I have never forgiven that teacher.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

hand dryers (revisited)

Just a brief addition to my last posting on hand dryers not too long ago.  In the restroom of the church I attend there is a serious problem.  Behold:



Yeah, you're reading that right.  That is an official Bunnie Hand & Face Dryer.  Not only does it dispense of what could, at best, be described as a pleasant breeze, it has the word 'Bunnie' in the title.

Drying your hands with the bunnie dryer is about the most emasculating thing on the planet.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

singing

Singing is a heartwarming way of expressing that which cannot be expressed with words. Music is the voice of the soul, as they say, and singing is a way to express the feelings of your soul.

Singing is typically done as an expression directed towards others, and can be done in a large group, or with just a few individuals. Many excellent singing performances can be heard by quartets, trios, duets, and yes, even soloists can have amazing depth and passion in their voice.

If, however, you do not desire to perform, singing can be done in the privacy of one's own shower or home.

Though there are guidelines on breathing, and agreement on the general acceptability of actually staying within a reasonable range of the desired note, there are no hard rules about singing, save one:

If you are singing to yourself, you must, in fact, be by yourself.

To elaborate for one moment, this would mean singing whilst walking on a busy city street1 puts you in the same category as asylum inmates, people who torture small animals, and people who pretend to be ducks. Singing whilst riding public transit, again, is not socially acceptable in any way. Sorry. Singing while standing next to me on a rail platform is especially strange, and I reserve the right to pummel you senseless with my backpack should you ever do that again, you psycho crazy lunatic.

When abiding by this rule, please be aware that though you may think you are alone, oftentimes this is not actually the case.

For instance, let's imagine a hypothetical situation in which you move to a new city and rent a one bedroom apartment. Furthermore, in abiding by the one diamond-studded rule of singing, you first secure your premises, then begin singing in the shower with impunity. And possibly while cooking. And then just whenever you want. And maybe accompanying said singing with some verbal commentary. This commentary might include quacking.

Then, let us introduce a new character to this situation: the next-door neighbor. Suppose you meet this neighbor, and she looks at you extremely strangely, and might have a bit of fear and/or amusement in her eyes. She may act like you belong in an institution of some sort.

At first glance, you might be confused at why she would act this way. But, hold on. Towards the end of this hypothetical situation, let her move out of the apartment next door, and have a couple move in. On their first night in the apartment, note how clearly you can hear their voices through the walls. Especially through the shared bathroom wall.

Singing is an excellent way of making friends.

1. There is, of course, an exception for people involved in the noblest of professions: performers in musicals.

hair

Apologies for touching on such a mundane topic, but, as this is the complete guide, I'm afraid, for completeness, we must discuss hair today. Some my find this topic disturbing, so I encourage you to move along in your perusal of the internet, especially if you happen to be female, single, between the ages of 20 and 30, and not yet terrified with the prospect of going out with me.

I think we're all familiar with hair and its unusual tendency to behave like the police: never around when you need it, and always showing up in inconvenient places.

Take, for instance, the back. The back is a peaceful part of the body. It inflicts no harm on nobody. It doesn't deserve to be tortured. Yet, for whatever reason, many1 find their backs being attacked by hair infestations, as it breeches the natural defenses imposed by the shoulders and starts its southern campaign.

Should you find yourself afflicted with this problem, I have but two bits of advice to impart to you: a) zap yourself with every laser in existence, or b) barring that, never, ever, ever walk outside shirtless in any environment ever. Wear a shirt swimming if needs be. Even stop during fire alarms to ensure you are robed. Please. I beg of you. There is no situation in which seeing someone with hair on their back is not like drinking month-old curdled milk.

Hair is associated with manliness. This can be seen by analyzing the common expression, "it'll put hair on your chest". Millions of teenagers may find themselves duped into wishing they had hair on their chest, so they could be manly. Some particularly sissy teenagers may actually believe that having hair on their chest will remove the stigma of sissiness from them. For the record, I have first-hand experience that this is not so2.

Please, for the love of all that is good in this world, do not wish for such a cursing. I too was misled by my brothers, thinking a hairy chest was something to be desired. It is only in my later years that I realize such a thing is wrong, yea, even a false tradition of my fathers, even if it is manly. Why? Women dislike hair.

Before you tell me I'm wrong, let us reminisce about the time, four months past, when I found myself at a party wearing a polo shirt, from which may or may not have emanated a tiny amount of hair (let me emphasize: tiny). I may or may not have been raised believing this was a desirable thing, as I may or may not have been told that very thing by a male family member who shall remain nameless. Now, let us recall with horror the conversation I had with the cute girl who began elaborating, loudly, how disgusting she thought said practice was3. That was the fastest conversation I ended in my life4.

Earlier I lied, obviously, as women do love hair, as long as it is one place: on your head. Or possibly a sweet beard.

Let us pause for a moment to consider the injustice of being able to grow hair on your arms, chest, neck, face, ears, nose, thumbs5, toes, and yet find yourself balding6.

Life isn't fair.

1. And I want to be very clear on this point: I am speaking only of others in this specific case. For now.
2. Never speak to me of the pool party I once attended, where among two dozen deeply unsissy men, I was the only one with a spec of hair on my upper body.
3. I wasn't able to determine if I was the cause of her outburst. She certainly wasn't interested in me, so maybe that was her way of telling me to get away? Whatever it was, it was super awkward. And I don't wear that polo shirt anymore.
4. Lies. Second fastest, after that conversation in which the girl accused me of being a conversation stopper. I still treasure that moment.
5. Seriously. Thumbs. What sort of horrible deed did I do in a previous life to deserve hair on my thumbs??
6. I found out a month ago. I think it was the fourth worst day of my life.