Killing one bird with one stone

Hey, have you heard? James Taylor is going to buy wife Carly Simon a mockingbird. Yep, a mockingbird. Not a turtledove, not a French hen, not even a stinkin’ partridge. Heck, even a canary would be helpful next time the missus heads into a coal mine. But a mockingbird? What is he thinking?

Wait… she seems unusually excited about this gift. I wonder why?

Oh, if the mockingbird doesn’t sing, she gets a diamond ring as a consolation prize. No wonder she’s thrilled! I give it three days (maybe less) before this bird is pining for the fjords, if you catch my meaning.

But be warned, Jim, if you don’t get an especially shiny diamond ring, Carly’s going to be heartbroken. I suggest you take her with you to the jeweler and let her pick out her own ring. After all, you clearly don’t have any idea what kind of gifts your wife would appreciate, and your last screw-up cost an innocent mockingbird its life. Next time, don’t let her know about the backup plan! She might have been satisfied with the bird.

And Carly, for Pete’s sake, make a list next year!


How do I trust thee? Let me get a ruler…

Today, I accidentally contemplated the concept of trust.

It started off so innocently.  I was talking with one of my coworkers about a third coworker, and my friend joked, “I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him.”  It’s one of those sayings I’ve heard all my life, and never really given it a second thought.

Until today.

When did trust start being measured in terms of distance?  It seems rather capricious to associate trust with how far you can throw someone.  “How much can we trust Bob on this?”  “Oh, about 2 feet 8 inches, I would guess.”  The implications are troubling:

  • Does this mean I can trust my friend’s 5-year old son Christopher more than his mother?
  • Am I automatically less trustworthy than I was in second grade?
  • Are karate black belts and Olympic shot putters especially gullible compared to the general public?  And did they just become more trusting over time?  (Disclaimer: Do not take advantage of karate black belts.  You’ll be sorry.)
  • If we’re watching the game, and I go into the kitchen to get some pretzels, do I become less trustworthy?  Do you?  Is trust relativistic like time, where it depends on whose frame of reference is moving?  And what if I come back without pretzels?  Should you trust me more because I’m within your throwing range, even if I lied about getting snacks?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I don’t like the way that guy’s looking at me.  I’m going to go lift weights until I can trust him.

Roomful of double standards

I was listening to the Bangles’ song “In Your Room” as I walked around the lake.  In the second verse, Susanna Hoffs sings, “I love it in your room all day.  When you’re gone I like to try on all your clothes.”

Somehow, I don’t think Susanna would be quite as excited if the roles were reversed…

Corrections: Continuity errors

When you watch as much television as I do, you start to notice when the writers or the director miss things between shots or episodes.  The technical term for these oversights is “continuity errors”.

While I have had a spectacular morning today (which you can read about here), I have noticed a surprising number of continuity errors in reality.

1) At IHOP this morning, my waitress (Cori the Zone Bunny — read about her here too) told me that the secret of their sirloin tips was that they were “marinated in Coca-Cola”.  What she meant to say was that they were “marinated and cooked”.  This will be fixed in ADR (additional dialogue recording).

2) At Barnes & Noble, the cover of the latest Justice League of America comic book shows Catwoman as a member.  Catwoman is a villainess (villperson?  person of villainy?), while the Justice League is a loose confederation of heroes.  We will fix this in editing.

3) At Starbucks, the Veranda Blend coffee is described on the label as “blonde”.  Coffee is a brunette, unless you add lots of raspberry syrup, in which case coffee becomes a sultry redhead.  Lemonade is blonde.  We will get the VFX (visual effects) guys to digitally fix the label.

4) Also at Starbucks, my friend Laura indicated that she had been up since 3 o’clock this morning.  This was a typo in the script, and was meant to read “8 o’clock”.  Laura is not to blame.  Again, we will fix this in ADR.

5) Leaving Starbucks, one of the cars in the parking lot had a vanity plate reading “DKTR WHO”.  In the earlier German portion of the morning, the vanity plate read “DKTR WER” (Doctor Who).  In the American morning, the plate should read “DCTR WHO”.  Another touchup for the graphics department.

We regret the errors.

It’s a wonderful morning

I am not a morning person.  The only reason I experience mornings at all is because they’re usually there when I wake up.

Today was a great morning, though.  All day, everywhere I went, pretty girls were smiling at me.  (Disclaimer: I use the term “girls” intentionally, as in each case I am old enough to be their father’s older brother.)  Because of the age difference, I may compliment the girls, but I do not hit on them in any way.  (Sort of like a fisherman who throws back fish that are too small.)

When I went to the dry cleaners this morning, the girl who took my shirts had one of those smiles that could melt ice cream.  I’m not used to getting that greeting from someone who’s only getting dirty shirts in return, so I complimented her on her smile.  She just got a bigger smile and thanked me like I had just rescued her from the Daleks.  Score: John 1, Dry Cleaner Girl 1, Morning 0.

I then went to IHOP for breakfast.  For a Saturday morning, the place was surprisingly unpacked, and I got a seat immediately.  A lovely young waitress came up to me, and we had the following true but improvised conversation: Continue reading

The Age of Wondering

Technology is great!  What would we do without technology?

(Disclaimer #1: I am a software engineer working for a multinational technology company.  I am required to think this as a condition of employment.)

(Disclaimer #2: Since Mother Nature and I hate each other with a passion, all of my entertainment needs are provided by technology.  Without it, I would be bored.)

Sometimes, though, I wonder about the slow march April of technology into all aspects of our lives.  (Not that it isn’t great, though!  I’m just idly wondering!  Please don’t fire me!) Continue reading

Survival skills

I have no realistic chance of surviving even your basic apocalypse.  Whether it’s zombies or aliens or robots from space, I’m probably going out in the first wave.

You see, I lack basic survival skills.  I can’t hunt or fish.  I can’t shoot straight.  I can’t swim or run very fast.  I am a software engineer, which means that my main value to society expires when the lights go out.  (Disclaimer: the “value” of software engineers to modern society is still under review.  Just go with me on this.)

As a result, my post-civilization job prospects basically come down to 1) crazy old man who sits around the campfire telling the children stories about the old days when giant metal birds flew around and music came out of little boxes; or 2) crazy old man who lives in a cave and talks to himself about giant metal birds that flew around and music that came out of little boxes.

So I don’t really mind not surviving the apocalypse.  Not just because I’ll be obsolete.  The real reason is that, based on a scientific survey of what’s on TV this week, apocalypse survivors are really horrible human beings.  They’re constantly swearing and yelling and fighting and shooting each other like there’s no tomorrow.  (OK, there isn’t, but that’s not the point!)  Be they the last remnants of humanity, or just a bunch of people stuck on a ship at the far edge of the galaxy, doomed people never seem to find the bright side of being doomed.  (Note: need to find a bright side to being doomed and insert here before posting.) Continue reading

Cutting the hand that feeds you

(Note: This is part 2 of a longer story.  Parts 1, 3, and 4 are here, here, and here.)

A few weeks ago I went to the doctor about something called “trigger finger”.  He gave me an extremely painful shot of corticosteroids to fix the problem.  Unfortunately, it gave out after about a month.  Now I have to decide the next step, so I’m doing what I never do in situations like this: making a list of the pros and cons of each option.

Option 1: More shots

Pros: works for a while

Cons: extremely painful; not a permanent solution

Option 2: Hand surgery

Pros: one-time fix; short recovery time; less painful than steroid shots

Cons: temporary loss of use of right hand; scar could be mistaken for stigmata

Option 3: Handectomy – replace with hook

Pros: Makes great back scratcher; hooks (like bowties and fezzes) are cool

Cons: Harder to type using hunt-and-hook system; modern piracy 85% less romantic than pirate movies; high potential for accidental scratches to self, friends and paint jobs

Option 4: Handectomy – replace with bionic hand

Pros: Optional features (laser pointer, extra fingers, cup warmer)

Cons: Stuff (cups, hands, etc.) accidentally crushed at first; not covered by insurance;  may require term of service in secret government organization

Option 5: Hand transplant

Pros: Eliminates crushing and hooking problems (see above); provides more natural look and feel

Cons: Unsightly wrist scar requires ugly bracelet or tattoo to cover; hand donor pool made up of 64% serial killers, 36% thieves; 92% of donated hands eventually turn rogue and kill or steal again

Decisions, decisions…

Unnecessary tests

One of the things that drives up health care costs is the use of unnecessary tests.  I was subjected to this recently.  One of the doctors I went to, who I have been seeing for years, decided to check my height using this elaborate contraption attached to his scale.  This despite the fact that he has paperwork stating my height.

I’m disappointed that he didn’t trust me.  It’s embarrassing to find out that I’ve put on a few inches since college.  Apparently I need to get more gravity into my diet.