Saturday, September 24, 2011

lie detectors

One of the downsides to maintaining a ridiculously1 popular blog2 is that people, and by people I mean women, typically demand you promise to desist from writing things about them in the public domain.

This happened to me again last night, wherein a woman insisted that nothing that occurred during the course of the evening could be tweeted; this because she's still a little sensitive about how I may have publicly insinuated something she wrote was creepy without nary a warning on my part. People these days. So sensitive.

Anyways, these sorts of requests mean I spend a lot of time breaking promises.

I kiiid, I kiiid. I would never dream of breaking a promise I still remember!

Which is why I never trust lie detectors, and roll my newly-lasered eyes every time I read another article discussing a "better" lie detector. People. Lie detectors are fantasy fiction, like flying saucers, the Loch Ness monster, girls who want to date you, and finding meaning of life outside of chocolate or San Pellegrino Aranciata.

There are two easy ways to beat a lie detector.

#1: Maintain a terrible memory

Plausible forgettability is the ultimate in moral defense.

This is how I can claim to have never gone bowling and split open my pants in front of several dozen individuals who were all amazed by the intense light emanating from my nether area when I sat down, legs spread open, with a black light illuminating white underwear in the most visible way possible.

I have no recollection of said event, nor my immediate departure and walk of shame home in the blessed concealing darkness, so, naturally, it never happened.

This is also how I can tell people I've never broken a bone, though the record clearly states I broke my foot jumping off of a balcony in Preschool to "test out my fire escape plan",3 spent the next week limping before my "doctor" father realized something was wrong, got me put in a cast which I was instructed to never walk on, and then, to punish me for my eventual sullying of his name in this post, declined crutches, and the family spent the next week enjoying communal laughter as I drug myself around on the carpet whenever I needed to do anything. Like eat. Or use the restroom.

These events are all conveniently forgotten, or, as my therapist puts it, "repressed", so I would have no troubles at all passing a lie detector test relating to the more humiliating moments of my life.

#2 Convince yourself it isn't true

If you're easily persuaded, or, as my brother called it, "gullible", you can use that to your advantage to pass a lie detector test.

For example, you may someday be asked by your little brother, moments before he finally extracts his revenge by beating you senseless, what was going through your mind when you were driving him home from waterskiing, and, instead of stopping the car for him to use the facilities like any other normal and loving person would do, insisting he take a knee and make good use of a stray water bottle.

By convincing yourself that you are a kind person, and the sort of person who would never in a million years do that sort of thing, you can easily pass any lie detector test related to your severe cruelty to a small child.4

Lie detectors are imprecise and vulnerable to exploitation. I suggest you work on your neuroses to get a passing grade.

1. That is, read by four charitable family members.
2. I insisted on calling it a publication for years until an aspiring publisher rightly took me to task (on a date, yes) for my malfeasance, specifically because my wandering drivel here contains no ISBN number.
3. While I am proud of my forward thinking, I am less proud of my abject stupidity.
4. Okay, I just have to say: in my defense, we were at the head of a caravan, and stopping would have been a very minor inconvenience. Also: to my family members who did not know of this, I promise, we immediately threw away that water bottle. I promise...

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Lasik is a procedure recommended by nerds worldwide to make those requiring vision correction, or, nerds, appear to be normal through synthetic means.

The procedure is quick and painless.

In preparation, you are given some eyedrops, and instructed to administer them once every four hours, or, until your eyes freeze over, as their temperature approximates that of the surface of Pluto. Never mind that I'd prefer to get punched in the face repeatedly rather than pour liquid nitrogen in my eyes, this step is absolutely required to prepare you for the joy that follows.

When you arrive to perform the procedure, no fewer than three individuals will ask you the name of the mystery drops you were given beforehand. Nobody will tell you why they can't tell you what kind of drops you were asked to take, they will all assume you are an idiot for not memorizing the name Oxfloxacin Ophthalmic Solution, USP 0.3%.1

After the traditional eye exam, complete with the usual rigamarole of a "doctor" presenting you with a series of lenses of the same magnification, all the while laughing at your complete indecisiveness,2 fully aware that you are wetting your pants about getting the right answer because if you don't, you're going to be lazed with the wrong prescription for the rest of your life, but also with complete awareness that the little hot-air balloon peep-hole machine already read your prescription to perfect accuracy, and the little 1-2 test is for his or her entertainment only, you are then asked if you would like to be a man, or if you would like to take sissy Valium.

You are then shown pictures of muscle-bound men leaving the operating table on their own accord, alongside lesser physical beings, approximating Chris Perry in their muscular appearance, groggily getting up and mumbling incomprehensibles to their rides home.

Now, I learned something during my Lasik procedure the other day, and this is a very important lesson, and I want all of you to remember this lesson for the rest of your days: if someone offers you Valium, there is but one word you need to respond with, and that word is yes. Remember that. Practice it. Valium? Yes. Valium? Yes. Valium? Yes.

You may be tempted to say no, because you may think that you are above average in your ability to endure discomfort, or you may possibly be on some misguided attempt to not weaken yourself through painkillers,3 but let me assure you that when you're on that table, and she puts cotton in your ears because "you're going to receive an excessive amount of eyedrops",4 and they start up the liquid nitrogen dispenser, you're going to want Valium.

When they use the metal tweezers from hell to pry your eyes open, you're going to want Valium. And when they roll you back underneath a laser and put a big suction cup on your eyes to suction and cut it, causing you to lose eyesight in that eye, you're going to want Valium. And when they need to suction your right eye THREE TIMES because the tech keeps screwing up, and the doctor is chiding people for their incompetence RIGHT BEFORE LASERS ARE GOING TO BURN YOU, you're going to want Valium.

And when you watch the doctor flap open your eye, you're going to want Valium. And when he starts lasering your eye, and you take a breath and you inhale your burning cornea, and oh my goodness that's the worst smell ever ever ever and I wish I would have thought to breathe before the laser started but it's already going and I need to breathe again and gahhhhh that smell, and gahhhhh my burning flesh, let me emphatically state: you're going to want Valium.

No, but seriously folks, there's nothing quite like going 23 years and suddenly being able to see without correction. Of course, as my good friend Sarah told me, there are two downsides: 1) You are suddenly much more concerned about the cleanliness of your shower, and 2) You no longer get free time in the morning without sight and without any worldly cares. I would add a third, and much more unsettling downside, which is related to your bathroom habits and the success one feels at being able to accomplish certain tasks without the aide of vision.

I am speaking about shaving and combing one's hair, of course.

But seriously seriously folks, Lasik is awesome. It is miraculous. I am grateful.

1. I just looked.
2., 2! No, 1! No, I don't know!!
3. I have an irrational distaste of painkillers, mainly because I have never really experienced pain that requires painkillers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

the budgetary solution

I've spent a lot of time over the past few months listening to various people complain about our national debt, and the "unsustainable" obligations we're imposing on our children; as if forcing our children to tax themselves at rates far in excess of 50% to pay for my vacation as an old man is somehow a bad idea. I've written about this before, and I am still of the opinion that if they're getting spaceships and flying cars, they can afford to let me wile away my golden years eating frosties and watching reruns of Seinfeld.

Regardless, that opinion doesn't seem to be "popular" with people who believe in "fulfilling our obligations", and "not going bankrupt and destroying the dream of a perpetual free democratic society for the rest of the world".

So, in my infinite wisdom, I have prepared a platform for solving the budgetary crisis in one fail swoop.1 I trust the "special commission" set up by Congress to "resolve" the budgetary crisis, whose probability of success approaches the probability that irradiated rabid squirrels break into my house and dance DDR in the living room tonight, will pay special attention to my plan.

While I appreciate tax increases are anathema to anyone living in a magical fantasyland where we get everything for free and curtailing benefits for highly-voting old people isn't political suicide, I think the following taxes will enjoy broad, bipartisan support:

  1. $25 for use of the word "epic". Fine increased 10x when followed by the word "fail".
  2. $50 for every email in which an individual hits reply-all to a group of ten or more people, with the penalty doubling for every infraction, and septupling if the sole purpose of the offending message was to request everyone else stop replying-all. One exemption for when all of the recipients are immediate family members.2
  3. $110 for use of the phrase, "I'm kind of a big deal".
  4. $125 for taking pictures of yourself in any of the following poses: holding up a leaning tower, imitating a statue, next to any palace guard, or mid-air while jumping.
  5. $150 for waving someone else through a stop sign when it is clearly your right of way, and no, you are not "being nice"; you are causing major confusion to everyone in the world who now never knows whether to obey traffic laws or guess at the magnanimity of other drivers.
  6. $300 for replacing the word "you" with "u" in any electronic communication where the user either has access to a keyboard or a smartphone. Similar fees applied to "ur",3 "cuz", and any substitution of numbers for words.
  7. $1650 for every time a shampoo manufacturer refuses to give me a manly option, forcing me to choose between Suave,4 Pert,5 Fructis,6 Head and Shoulders,7 or Axe.8

These taxes, plus the discontinuation of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Education, road construction, and the White House Easter Egg Roll, will, taken together, resolve the current budgetary crisis.

You're welcome.

1. How old was I until I learned the actual phrase is fell swoop? Oh, right, 29. When did I learn that? Oh, right, four months ago. How did I learn that? Oh right, when everyone at work laughed me to scorn. Note to self: ensure you can actually say a common phrase correctly before following in your mother's footsteps and, for example, requesting someone give you his or her "John Henry".

2. Also known as the "Mormon exemption", or the "saving Chris Perry from falling afoul of this rule every week exemption", or the exemption that my family members would all vehemently oppose in order to be spared seeing my inane replies.

3. I have never been able to see that word without thinking of the ancient city-state of Ur, and I have never been able to think of Ur without thinking of Mr. Felt's High School history class and his horrendously awesome "Zig, you rat!" bit teaching us about ancient temples. And this is why, whenever you say "ur" to me, the lone, sole response I can give under any circumstances is to discuss Ziggurats and their place in ancient society. Genius or nerd or Autistic? You decide.

4. Seriously? Suave? Can you invent a sissier word please?

5. Oh wait, you just did. I don't know how, but you managed to come up with a shampoo name sissier than Suave. Congratulations.

6. Who are you people? Do you think I can walk through a checkout line carrying something called Fructis? Are you on crack cocaine? Have you no idea how demoralizing that is?

7. Why don't I just scream to everyone in the store that I have bad breath and BO at the same time?

8. Given their advertising, tantamount to buying porn.

Monday, September 5, 2011

henry cowell redwoods state park

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is a delightful park in the Santa Cruz mountains, offering peaceful respite among the redwoods.

I have camped at Henry Cowell on two occasions, and am thus in an ideal position to instruct you as to the finer points of said campground. However, I feel that the artistic element of this guide has been lacking as of late, so allow me to discuss my two visits in a more nuanced form.

My first visit can be represented as a play in one act.

Chris, the bumbling planner
Benj, the too-trusting friend
Dave, the friend suckered into driving

Enter Chris, Dave, and Benj

Dave: Oh no, looks like the campground is closed.
Benj: I guess we'll have to camp somewhere else.
Chris: But in Utah, you can just pay the fee and nobody will care! Let's do that.
Dave and Benj (with misgivings): Well, okay, who can argue with that logic?

They pay, set up camp, and hop in their sleeping bags

Dave: Boy, I sure love camping.
Benj: Me too. This is great.
Chris: What's that noise?

Enter Officer Gow and Deputy, guns and maglites drawn

Chris: Can I get my glasses?

Chris, Dave, and Benj get out of their tent, clad in their pajamas,1 hands up, and are directed to a picnic table by the Colt .45. Deputy rummages through tent for the next ten minutes looking for weed.

Officer Gow (writing up three $120 tickets): Where are you boys from?
Benj: Palo Alto
Officer Gow: What are you doing down here?
Chris (meekly): I wanted to see Loch Lomond sir.
Officer Gow (grunting): Loch Lomond?
Chris: Yes sir.
Officer Gow: Why do you want to see that?
Chris: Because of the song, sir.
Officer Gow: The song?
Chris: It's a Scottish song, sir.
Officer Gow: A Scottish jig, eh?
Chris: Yes sir.2
Officer Gow (distributing tickets): Well, you boys had better be gone when we come by in another hour, or we're taking you all to jail.

Officer Gow and Deputy leave, but not before ticketing Dave's car for $60, then peeing on it for good measure

So, as you can see, I hold a special place in my heart for Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, as does Dave, and as does Benj,3 and oh boy, do I have a very special place in my heart for Officer Gow.4

So I was super excited when I was invited to return to the scene of my crime and camp there last weekend. Lucky for you, my second visit can be represented by a lone haiku:

Hammock in the trees
Wake up to a summer breeze
Face attacked by bees

aaaaaand that's the last time I'll be spending any time in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. I invite you to go and enjoy it without me.

Protip: Don't camp there when it's closed.
Protip 2: Don't disturb hives of yellowjackets which then attack you and your group in swarms and you run away screaming "BEES! BEES! YOUR FIREARMS ARE USELESS AGAINST THEM!" while dozens of other campers stare at you, and you are then forced to spend the next two hours running over to your campsite to grab some gear, and run away while being chased by angry bees, all while hoping that the sting right next to your eye doesn't swell up and detract from your driving abilities.

1. That is, our underwear.
2. And here we come to my greatest regret in life. I've said and done a lot of stupid things, but it all would have been worth it if I had listened to my gut and began singing the Scottish love song I planned to sing on the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond the following morning as the sun rose. Alas. I did not. Such pain is mine. Oh, such regret.
3. Dave has yet to forgive me. Benj may have, I'm not sure.
4. It is a goal of mine to forgive him. We're still working on releasing sincere hatred.

really setting the record straight

Gentlemen and gentlewomen of the jury, dulce et decorum est pro patria juri, thank you for answering a governmental summons that forces you out of your homes and away from your loved ones to answer meaningful disputes such as the one that the plaintiff, Jeremiah, is now pursuing in the public domain.

Let me assure you that I, the defendant, have carped the diem and done everything in my power to bring this disagreement to a peaceful settlement outside of a court of law, but, given recent events, my hand has been forced, and here I am to convey to you events how they actually transpired, only proclaiming de factos without a single caveat emptor.

Let it be noted that on the afternoon of March 21st, 1986, or at any point ipso or post facto circa that date, one Jeremiah returned home from his schooling. Let it be noted that, post hoc ergo propter hoc, he had learned about the state of one Mississippi.

On that day, Jeremiah produced a sketch of one "Mrs. Zippy". Said sketch was not on white paper; said sketch was on blue paper. Said sketch did not have four physical eyes as has been alleged, said sketch had two eyes, plus glasses, which condition was colloquially known as having 'four eyes' by the inhabitants of Utah at that time, and which expression Jeremiah would have been intimately acquainted with.

Said sketch was being drawn as one Chris walked into the room to inquire as to the activities of his brother. Said encounter took place on the Southwest corner of the big round table, which table now carries a scar from when one Marie left some chemicals on top of said round table, and said chemicals ate into the tabletop and said Marie was grounded even though I believe said Chris was the one who rested the chemicals on said table, and was too sissy to have said that at said time.

Upon producing the sketch of one "Mrs. Zippy", Jeremiah unveiled the dramatis parsonæ to Chris, and proclaimed it to be Mrs. Zippy, and, as an explanation, declared she had four eyes. He continued to inform Chris that he was made aware of the persona non grata that day in school as part of a lesson.

Now, gentlepeople of the jury, I cannot recall if, in future days, the poor child Chris, now a victim of his brother's misunderstanding, would have imparted this nugget of wisdom to others quid pro quo, but, I can, your honors, tell you with absolute one hundred percent certainty that said Chris was unimaginably confused by his brother's antics that day, and why he carried an obsession with a strangely-named woman with four eyes.

Those are the facts, ceteris paribus, et cetera, ex nihilo, per se, per diem, and per my memory.

Semper yours,


Friday, September 2, 2011

Setting the Record Straight

For some 25 years, Chris and I have had a running dispute. I will try to recount the events that caused the dispute in a neutral, unbiased way.

One day after school, Chris and I were sitting around the kitchen table with several other members of our family. We were each drawing pictures and having the others guess what we had drawn, a la Pictionary.

At one point, one of us took the pen and drew a lady’s face with four eyes. Every one guessing was confused. What could it be? “Mrs. Zippy!” was the reply. “Everyone knows Mrs. Zippy has four eyes.”1

Of course, the dispute arises when trying to decide who it was that did this. My side of the story is that Chris did it. Chris’ side is that he did it, but then he lies and says I did it.

Let me state for the record that I am one hundred and ten percent sure that Chris drew Mrs. Zippy. I categorically deny any and all involvement in the Mrs. Zippy scandal.

As evidence, I present to you Exhibit A, recently found by my sister (thanks, Marie!) and her extensive scanning of old photographs at our childhood home:

So there you have it, irrefutable proof that Chris was behind the Mrs. Zippy portrait.

1. Clearly, one of us (Chris) had just had a geography lesson.