Hands on deck

With my birthday now past, I bring to an end my 53rd (or Joker) year.

In my 54th year, I have decided to move beyond Jokering to the next card in the deck of life, so I plan to devote my next year to the ranking of hands:

Full House

Full-House

beats Two of a Kind

FRONT: MARY KATE OLSEN, ASHLEY OLSEN / BACK: CHRISTOPHER SIEBER, SALLY WHEELER

which beats Two of a Kind.

two travolta

Ranch hands

ranchHands_group

outrank jazz hands.

jazzhands

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Half it your way

There’s a saying: Go big, or go home.  Maybe you’ve heard it.  (If not, go back to the beginning of this paragraph and begin again, only more slowly.)  This is one of those things often said by people (such as coaches) who have a vested stake in the performance of someone else, but no actual responsibility if they fail.  Spectators who encourage gamblers to go “all-in” with their life savings are another example.

I have always considered that saying to be a false dichotomy.  No matter how big I choose to go, I have every intention of going home afterwards.  Perhaps I’m just a wimp (Disclaimer: Yeah, pretty much), but going big enough to threaten my ability to go home (skydiving, crime wave, going all-in with my home on a pair of deuces) is not for me.

Hold that thought for a moment.

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Self-serving the community

This morning when I went to Barnes & Noble there was a fire truck out front. There was no fire. Apparently there were no fires anywhere this morning, because the firemen were talking with kids, passing out plastic fire helmets*, and posing for pictures with kids next to the fire truck.  (Disclaimer: A “picture” is like a selfie, only someone else takes it — kids, ask your parents.)

I wish to take a stand in support of holding a fire safety program right outside a giant building full of paper.

* Disclaimer: The plastic fire helmets were black.  This is an odd choice of colors, unless you are attempting to recruit anti-firemen to drum up business.  My stand for this is substantially less supportive.

Author’s note: I walked into the store behind a young father and his 4-year old son.  Before we had even gotten through the airlock (that space between the inner and outer doors where they put the table of unsellable books they don’t care about you stealing), the boy took off his black fire helmet, handed it to his father, and said, “Can you hold this?”  I could feel the waves of regret emanating from him as he took the helmet.

Meeting my non-obligations

About 6 months ago I was at a Catholic men’s conference.  The priest who was speaking happened to mention that whenever he is in line at Starbucks, he always pays for the person behind him.   As I am a long-time proponent of giving simply because you can, I decided to adopt this policy myself.  (I have since learned from friends at Starbucks that it is not uncommon for people to do this at the drive-thru.)  Whenever there is someone in line behind me, I will tell the baristperson that the next person’s drink is on me.  I don’t do this for any deeper reasons than 1) I can, and B) it makes other people happy, and I enjoy happiness.  It’s a good return on the investment of a few dollars.

The reactions I have gotten are varied and usually positive.  There’s usually a moment of “What?!” when the baristette tells them their drink is already paid for, followed by a look at me and the question, “Are you serious?”  (Disclaimer: That would be a really mean thing to do.)  Once they realize I am serious, then comes the smile.  Most people thank me two or three times, as if I had just rescued them from the Cybermen.  One woman did a little dance.  Once on a Saturday morning, a teenage girl beamed at me and said, “I’ve been up since 4AM, and everything has gone wrong today.  This is the only good thing that has happened!”  I floated through the entire weekend on that one.  That is why I do it, so someone can go through the rest of their day knowing that something good happened.

But every once in a while, someone will look at me apologetically and say, “Oh, you don’t have to do that!”  I never know quite how to respond to them, because that statement is both obvious and irrelevant.  And it puts me in a quandry, because it kind of defeats the purpose of making people happy to mock them while doing it.

Here are some of the things I want to say, but don’t:

  • “I don’t?!?!  Oh, thank God!  Now I can go buy that wooden hip for my grandmother!”  (Disclaimer: Yes, wooden hip.  As I was writing that line, the terms “wooden leg” and “artificial hip” collided in my mind like those chocolate and peanut butter addicts in the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercials of my youth.  Coincidentally, a peanut butter/chocolate pileup on the interstate is why my grandmother needs a wooden hip.)
  • “Of course I do!  They’re watching!”

There was one woman who was so adamant about buying her own coffee that she tried to force $5 into my shirt pocket, even as I kept backing away from her.  No matter what I said, she insisted on reimbursing me for her drink.  She relented only when I finally told her, “If you give me back the money, I’m just going to pay for her drink instead!”, referring to the person in line behind her.  (I did end up paying for her drink as well, with far less brouhaha.)  But I really just wanted to stop her and say, “Seriously?  Are you so horrible a person that you’re not worthy of a free cup of coffee?  Do you really need to fight back this hard?”

So I’ve come up with a compromise, one that I hope balances my dual obligations to be kind to strangers and still mock them.  Whenever someone says to me, “You don’t have to do that,” I just turn to them, smile, and say, “I’m sorry, did I ask for your opinion?”

I haven’t been punched yet.  Yet.

 

A cookie for my thoughts

I had a particularly challenging code bug to work on today.  As is often the case, I blamed it on elves.

Not the kind of elves you’re thinking of.  These are not those kinds of elves.  The elves I’m talking about are more like gremlins, the weird little creatures that damage WWII fighters and freak out William Shatner if you feed them after midnight.  Only with software.

You’re thinking of one of the other kinds of elves.  There are three main kinds of elves: elves that bake cookies, elves that make toys for Christmas, and elves that fight orcs. 

Unfortunately, that got me thinking.  What if there were a kind of elf that makes Christmas cookies for orcs?  (Disclaimer: Yes, I actually thought this.)

So naturally, my next thought was, “What kind of cookies would elves make for orcs?”  (Disclaimer: There is nothing natural about this thought.  Even I can tell that.)

The obvious answer is, of course, orcerdoodles.

Unless you have coconut handy.  Then you can make orcaroons.

But if you don’t have time to bake, you can always buy Orceos.

Or, if you’re on a budget, Uruk-haidrox.

Author’s note: I have needed to get this out of my head all day.  The only way I know to do that is to transfer it to you.  I regret the inconvenience.  To misquote TV spokesagent Samuel L. Fury, “What’s in your imagination?”

Author’s other note: The above post contains numerous stereotypes that might be offensive to the Elvish-American community.  I don’t care.  They keep messing up my code.  If they don’t like it, they can go back to their hollow trees at the North Pole of Middle-Earth.