Tuesday, October 16, 2007

the musical fruit

I enjoyed a nice back to back trip in the middle seat of a stinky airplane from Austin to San Jose the other day. Balancing out the good karma of my previous ill fated trip below, this time lady luck spun the wheel and landed me next to an old guy who smelled like green onions and insisted on opening his newspaper half across my lap to read it. When he wasn't using me like his personal desk, we has working some serious elbow jabs into my side as he fought to maintain supremacy over both armrests.

Well in the face of this I responded like any rational adult would, mainly by farting towards him as much as possible. Yes, I know its a bit nasty but its one of the few defense mechanisms you have on a plane to get back at your fellow passengers without getting into a fist fight. I had a few that swelled up so large I rose up off the seat, like a happy smurf sitting on a mushroom. In my mind, I was the 'winner'.

All this of course brought back another fond memory of farting on a plane. It was a bumpy ride from New Jersey to Detroit. The plane was mostly empty and several people including myself stretched out to lie longways across the row (I think the FAA allows flight crews to tazer or pepper spray you if you do this nowadays). Unfortunately the guy in front of me was an avid 'sleep farter', which was to mean he was pumping more gas than a freeway service station on Memorial Day. As I lay slowly dying from methane asphyixation, the stewardess came by and noticing the 'issue' deployed a series of 10 coffee filter bags around the offending gas source. They were like mini fart land mines, strewn across the plans seats and floor, and they miraculously contained the stink.

The look on the guys face when he woke up was priceless.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

lets all go the speed limt

OK so I'm living in Texas for about a month now and feel like I need to vent my frustrations with the seemingly backwards drivers we have around these parts (as they say).

Like most things in life I've been able to group them into convienent groupings, which enables me to direct my rage in a much more organized fashion. So, were anyone else but me actually reading my diatribes, consider this an open letter to the following Texans:

"The Listless Blinker": There is no shortage of people here who drive for miles with their blinker on, hoping one day to change lanes. They tentatively swerve into their new found lane only to swerve back. Repeat this about 10 times until you pass them and flip them the bird.

"The uninspired large vehicle driver": This person needs to go at least 10 miles per hour below the speed limit in their oversized vehicle (of which there are many). Trust me. I'm not making this up. There was a Hummer on the way home from work today that was actually slowed to a stop at a green light. Where I grew up (New Jersey) any vehicle that drove below the speed limit that was not an ice cream truck with its bells on seriously risked getting shot at. Texans, speed the hell up.

"The (Drunk) Kamakazee": The polar opposite of the driver above, these vehicles barrel along at excessive speeds in all lanes and per Texas law must have a super-sized boat or trailer with two All Terrain Vehicles strapped to the towing hitch. Its hard to determine if the drivers are drunk or just stupid, so I can only assume its a little of both.

"The Wingman": Oddly, this is the one of the more common drivers here in Texas. These people insist on pulling up along side you in a multi-lane road and driving as if they are protecting your flank from enemy aggressors. While this technique works well in movies like Top Gun, its just annoying as hell on the road.

There you have it, Texas drivers. You need to step it up a bit before I get all New Jersey on you and put a cap in your ass.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Er, um, what was I supposed to remember

Kind of pulled a boner yesterday, in that I showed up 1 hour early for my 830pom flight home from San Jose to Texas only to find out the flight actually left at 4 Pm. Small discrepancy in my recollection of the departure time there, I know a lot of people who get their 4s and 8s mixed up.

Typically in these kinds of situations, God takes the opportunity to smote me for the many, mnay wicked things I've done. Usually its in grand fashion too, involving all kinds of travel hi-jinks such as a finding the only hotel with availabilty is the local crack house complete with multiple drug busts during the stay. Ah theres nothing like the soothing rhythm of gunfire to lull you off to a sleepy wonderland)

Surprisingly God didn't punish me this time, as the ticket lady actually broke the rules (despite getting literally a constant, in your face lecture from her co-worker on how she should not go out of her way to help me, must be part of their customer service training manual) to get me on a flight to Denver, where I spent the night at a decent hotel and am catching the flight home early today.

Hurray for people who don't give a shit about their co-workers opinion!

Which raises a thought - maybe we should add "Tell your co-workers to F*** off day" the list of Hallmark holidays. We can spend the day airing grievances against each other and maybe work in some mud wrestling or fights wearing those big puffy sumo suits.

I'll work on some greeting cards to get it rolling.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hey, I remember this blog

Its funny, but I lost the link to a blog of a friend of mine awhile ago that I like to read and subsequently lost the focus to build my blog. I know its as rational as forgetting to go to work because you couldn't find the keys to your car but hey I'm pretty simple minded.

Well she sent me the link to her blog, and I still have some thoughts I'd like to record and well maybe in virtual space I'll build a loyal blog reading follower base that I can leverage for personal gain at some point in the future. Combine all those things and viola! comes the insipiration to record this little diatribe a year after the last entry.

Have no fear gentle reader, I fully intend to spend the remainder of the evening coming up with something truly insipirational to post here. Unless I lose the link to my friends blog again, that is.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Manufactured Memories

Because there are not enough real events in life in which my children can produce heartwarming, touching moments of golden beauty that will be remembered forever (or at least until the associated souvenirs find their way to the trash can), the 'powers that be' have derived several different ways to provide those moments to me. One of them occurred this past Saturday at 7:30 AM when we lined up for the 'soccer parade'.

What exactly is a 'soccer parade', you ask? Well its a parade of kids marching with uniforms (of the fancy kind, with matching shorts and their names on the back) costumes and banners down main street to celebrate the first day of their soccer season. Ostensibly its put together because its 'fun for the kids', although based on the proceedings I think I could have covered the parts my daughter found to be the high points on my own - namely by feeding her 2 donuts in rapid succession and then standing at a distance of 5 yards and chucking candy grabbed out of a bucket at her. In reality its a photo of for all the parents and relatives lined up in the parade (marching with the kids) and along the side of the road. Plus I guess for the three other people awake in town at 7:30 AM on a Saturday its a bit of a thrill. Or a nuisance. Or both.

Now, given the fact that I'm generally a bit of a grinch when it comes to cheesy, contrived events (I put them on the same level as holidays which may have had some real significance but are now just fabricated to support the greeting card industry (see http://www.theromantic.com/sweetestday.htm)), you can bet where my opinion on the whole thing rested. Sure, kids love getting dressed up in costumes but that love seems to be on par with the thrill of sitting in an office chair and having dad spin you real fast (and the latter doesn't involve herding them into a car at ten to seven in the morning).

So anyway, to bring this post to a poignant, soul searching close, you can bet this whole shin dig had me reflecting back upon my life and what soccer/sports activities were like when I went through them. We'll suffice to say, back in my day we didn't have fancy uniforms and there definitely wasn't a parade just to celebrate the fact that the season was starting. You had to earn the fancy uniforms by being picked / qualifying for the inter-city traveling team and only then you got access to the spiffy home and away jerseys and gear bags with your name on them. No inter-city squad membership = team uniform that consisted of a crappy color t-shirt. And everyone had the same crappy t-shirts (no fancy uniforms allowed), which eliminated the "haves and have nots" friction between kids and quite frankly was more than enough of a uniform for first and second graders who spend more time kicking each others shins than they do the ball.

As a result it taught a valuable lesson on life - sure, money from your parents can buy you a lot of fancy things and make you look good on the outside. And people can give you trophies and parades for things you didn't really earn, which give a fleeting sense of happiness until the buzz wears off. But if deep down you suck at what you do and don't want to bother trying to get better at it you'll never really earn the good stuff.

So work your ass off and earn the neat-o gear bag.

Old School

Haha, one of many good videos from rathergood.com: ttp://www.rathergood.com/public_enemy/.

You got a rip in your couch.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Little Things in Life

I think somewhere in my initial post I promised to not talk about a) how great and/or adorable my children are nor b) burden you with sad tales from my childhood. But. given today's events its hard not to break the promise.

Our oldest daughter learned to ride her bike without training wheels today (with a lot less falling than I would have ever thought possible). I realize for those of you without children the importance of the last sentence may seem like the equivalent of me saying 'today I waxed my car' but trust me this is a big step. And despite what you want to remember/believe, when you learned to ride a bike it was pretty damn hard to do.

My wife and I took both girls to the park across the street with the intention of givng our older daughter a shot at trying to ride on two wheels and see if the younger one would take to it as well ('before' picture above) . True to a 3 year olds form, the younger one tried it a few times and quickly decided she'd rather go dig in the dirt near the swingset. But our older daughter picked up the basics within about 10 minutes (with grainy cell phone camera video posted at www.pirateshopper.com/bike.avi to prove it!).

By now you understand how I've broken rule a) above (I mean, taking video of it and posting it to a blog is a little bit of overkill) but it was b) that really struck me unexpectedly while all this bike balance training was going on. When I saw her ride that bike I literally had a flashback to the day I learned to ride my bike. It was a red little bike with some seriously geeked out chrome fenders. The place was the street in front of my house, which in its paving was studded with stones and was nothing like the smooth basketball court surface we took my daughter to. The 'training crew' consisted of my sister and some of my friends and the training procedure essentially consisted of my sister pushing me as fast as possible then letting go, me riding half a block triumphantly and then ditching the bike in the street in a colossial flame out. Then I would pick up the bike and walk back to the starting line so my sister and my friends could relentlessly taunt me about the many, many different ways I'd discovered that day to wipe out on a bike. (Which is not unnatural because people in New Jersey, especially kids, will taunt you about almost anything, no matter how inappropriate). Eventually I got the hang of it, learned to turn around and then headed back toward the crowd at full speed hell bent on running some people down.

So what, you ask? Through this entire flashback it struck me that my parents never assisted in nor did they take any interest in this or several other milestones in my life. Sure, they got me the bike (hand-me-down) and my dad worked very long hours to make sure we were able to get such things. But my mom was a stay at home mom. Apparently the excitement I felt today wanting to help my daughter get over this hurdle wasn't in her parental code book back in 1974.

And now its managed to taint an otherwise great day with some additional bitterness dredged up about my youth that I had long since forgotten about.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Attention Passengers

I've taken advantage of my recent trip overseas to expound on my keen observations about the archetypes of the various airline passengers that make our trips so much more enjoyable. Some may interpret this as a trite rehash of a tired 'complaining about airline travel' bit but this trip I took featured such an interesting array of the typical traveler types I feel compelled to comment. So you can appreciate the backdrop for my data gatherings, I was headed from San Francisco to Singapore on a flight that left at 1:30 am, which should of course yield maximum sleepage time. Ah, in theory it should, if it weren't for:

The Snorter: The snorter is the person who is either unable or unwilling to blow their nose like the average human being and instead resorts to persistent loud sniffling in order to further compact their sinuses. Like a fog horn on a misty shore, the snorter can easily be located in the dark on a plane full of quiet, sleeping passengers based on their consistent snorting that is timed to occur just as you are able to return to your slumber.

The Bouncer: Like a washing machine permanently stuck on its spin cycle, the bouncer excels in maintaining constant motion throughout the duration of the flight. Whether vertical or side to side motion, the agitation engine of the bouncer never grows tired and can never be satisified for more than a five second stretch. When paired in the body of the oft seen "Extra Large Passenger" the Bouncer can deliver a flying experience for his/her seatmates that can only be rivaled by a vibrating bed similiar to those used at the "finest" hotels. And, when the bouncer comes in the form of a teenager, its bouncing routine is periodically interrupted in order to frantically scour through carry on luggage at top speed and volume, presumably to obtain a vital object such medicine, a AAA battery or a half eaten pack of Skittles.

The Loud Talker: When waiting in line to use a bathroom in a dark plane full of sleeping people many would believe the proper behavior is to silently mutter to oneself about how you'll never eat chicken fried steak on an airplane again no matter how good it smells. Not the loud talker. The loud talker feels compelled to share their insightful comments on how different Hong Kong will be as compared to Kansas ("I've heard theres a lot of Chinese people there"), dispense expertise / travel tips despite this being their first intercontinental flight and offer up a brief summary of family goings on to those waiting with them for the bathroom. Like a young child armed with a bullhorn, the loud talker quickly helps those engaging in relatively unproductive activities like sleeping quickly regain an alert state so they can work on completing their 53rd consecutive crossword puzzle.

The Mega-Recliner: Also known as the "laptop crusher", the mega-recliner sees it as their God given right to take advantage of every single inch of reclining capability that their airline seat offers. The true mega-recliner often reveals themself in the first few moments of flight when they nudge the seat into a slight recline to engage in a clever game of cat and mouse with the patrolling flight attendants. Will they be ordered to bring the seat to a full and upright position prior to take off? Or will they achieve their dreamed state of lumbar relaxation a full 10 minutes before those around them are able to enjoy similar reclination? Regardless, once the flight is underway the mega recliner moves to what they do best, namely applying maximum force to the seat in order to extract the the most recline-related pleasure as possible. The manuever is typically executed at the worst possible moment for the person behind them, as the mega recliner possesses a 6th sense that allows them to know just the right time to apply their crushing force. Therefore the recliner knows just when the person behind them is leaning forward so, like a prize fighter delivering their knock out blow, they connect their seatback to your forehead.

Well at least then you can get some sleep.