That’s It. I’m Messing With Them.

I get the pleas for money from the NRA because, well, I am the NRA, and the ACLU because I subscribe to Harper’s (at least, I did until my current subscription runs out).

I got pleas from them both today, and I swear I am going to write out $10 checks to both of them, and then I will put the checks into the wrong envelopes.

Let them figure it out.

ZOUNDS! Someone Throw An Atari Party, Stat!

Pejman links to a post on The Volokh Conspiracy that describes a story (whew! blogosphere lineages can sound like the beginning of a Viking epic, wot?) about the life college freshmen know.

Particularly interesting numbered points (which technical writers know should be bulleted since they do not define a prescribed order):

9. Atari predates them, as do vinyl albums.

11. They have likely never played Pac Man and have never heard of Pong.

Zounds! Someone should start a charity or something. Perhaps some government-sponsored history of arcade games!

On the other hand, get off my lawn, you damn kids! I have video games and console systems older than you! Where’s that garden hose?

This Story Could Have Saved Walter’s Eyebrow

My single reader, and by “single reader” I mean you, Tulsa, the sole bachelor amongst us, listen up! AskMen.com’s got an important story that gives you the signs she’s flrting with you. If only I had seen this earlier.

You see, when I was younger and single, I finally gave up trying to figure out if women were interested in me. Of course, I am a sexy man, as I well know, but I discovered that some women, frequently the ones I was interested in, did not agree. So I never honed my instincts to actually uncover when a woman was actively recognizing my sexy manliness. As I said, I gave up trying. Instead, I told my friends who had a clue to give me a sign if some woman was actually paying me that sort of attention. Scratch your right eyebrow, I said.

So I invited this hot chick I met on the Internet to a poetry open mike in U. City one Sunday night, and a couple of my buddies came along. Not so that I noticed, being I was so into this woman. Next morning, I wondered aloud whether this woman might be interested in little old sexy man me. My cohort Walter says, “Man, you see I don’t have any eyebrow left.”

I guess he was right. She is interested in me.

That’s Not A MoDOT Criticism; THIS Is a MoDOT Criticism

Robert Prather, in the process of a move, has driven through Missouri and has criticized Missouri Department of Transportation’s expenditures on our highways here in the “Show Me the Tax Subsidy Money State.”

Robert said, as a bullet point in his post:

1. Missouri woefully underspends on its highways if I-55 is any indicator; there was a high positive correlation between the remains of blown tires and bumps in the road.

Well, he’s just a passerby, trashing our state’s foolish spending policies. In a comment on his site, I showed him how we residents do it:

Rest assured, Robert, that MoDOT’s right now spending ludicrous amounts of money to put together a five-year plan to road maintenance, just like last year, and its well-paid consultants offer the following advice, again:

  • Build more $600 million dollar bridges like the Page Avenue Extension to ferry affluent St. Charles suburban types into their jobs in St. Louis without the hassle of mass transit, which would not only bring them across the Missouri River into St. Louis, but could also bring St. Louis undesirables into the affluent areas;
  • Put up more soundproofing barriers so suburbanites who bought houses next to a highway don’t have to deal with the decibel consequences of the low house price;
  • Hire more administrators to devise more five-year plans;
  • Raise taxes some how, some way.
  • Slap a couple inches of asphalt on a couple lanes of highway, which will smooth that stretch until the next day in which the temperature climbs to ninety degrees or drops below thirty degrees.

But did you happen to notice, as you passed through St. Louis, any of the state-of-the-art public/private sports facilities, such as the Kiel Savvis Center, the Trans World Edward Jones Dome, or the site of the soon-to-be-built baseball stadium? If so, the legislators and powers-that-be hope, you would soon forget the obligations of the state government ignored to provide these amenities!

What? Who’s That?

Now that I have been roused from the recliner from what was promising to be a perfectly delicious Saturday afternoon nap to find a child with a pen and fundraising catalog rapping upon my door, I can only wonder

Why are kids fundraising the first week of school?

Can’t our Fagin educators start teaching or something before sending the little Twists out begging?

Wisconsin Busybody State Law Thwarted

The Mighty Wisconsin Legislature (and its governor), Took Firm Action against hoteliers who would gig their customers. Wisconsin State Statute 254.83 states:

Every hotelkeeper shall keep posted in a conspicuous place in each sleeping room in his or her hotel, in type not smaller than 12-point, the rates per day for each occupant.

Amid some other conditions.

Of course, hoteliers are happy to oblige by posting rates higher than their actual prices on the doors of the rooms into which you have already checked in. For example, the room at the Milwaukee Hyatt Regency, where I stayed this weekend, cost me $139.00 a night. The rate posted on the door: $300.00 a night. I’ve stayed in a number of hotels and motels in Milwaukee, and the practice is the same. Inflate the rate for the door, and give anyone who actually books the room a great discount.

Even if you factor in the “Welcome to our friendly town/state (sucker) tax rate of 15% on the room, you’re not going to pay the posted rate in Wisconsin, ever. But their state legislators cracked down on someone, sometime, and made a new law that’s easily dodged by everyone in the industry. But taxpayers pay for its enforcement, assuming its enforced, and hotel guests pay for its avoidance. Good work, legislators!

I mean, I would never pay over $300 for a room in Wisconsin unless it included a private indoor swimming pool with waterfall, a sauna, a bidet, and a complimentary bottle of California Sparkling White Wine.

Addresses on Emergency Notification Forms

I started a new job today, and as part of the mound of personnel Human Resources department paperwork, I had to fill out an Emergency Notification Form. Just in case something were to happen to me while I am at work. Such as a developer finally snaps under the nihilistic blizzard of defects I am logging and staps me with a black Bic right through the spot where the bones of the skull have knit together. And then, once he or she realizes that ramming a writing instrument into my “brain” has not harmed me, stabs me through the neck.

I tried envisioning the emergency scenario wherein the address of my emergency contact would become relevant….

“Simpson! Something has happened to Noggle! Send out the Died in His Cubicle postcard, and try to get his next of kin to schedule removal sometime this week. Oh, and turn up the air conditioning.”

Compulsion…taking over….Cannot…stop…myself….

As part of the “engagement” curriculum in my Honors English I class in high school, the teacher roped us into a discussion of the short story “The Scarlet Ibis“. However, instead of extensive discussions of the white patriarchal hegemony’s oppression of the differently-abled which a true “college prep” curriculum would have enjoyed, we got to do a mock trial that prosecuted the narrator of the story in Doodle’s death.

I got to play the defendant, which sucked because my public-defender quality lawyer didn’t object enough. The prosecutor kept pulling out information from within the story that only the defendant would know. As a seasoned veteran of many Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, I knew how to expose “player knowledge” from “character knowledge” in other players while masking my own exploitation of this systemic flaw. So, to make a short story long, the defendant was convicted.

So what’s my point? (Ahh….here…it….comes….) That although the Internet has made cheating easier, as early as seventeen years ago, public schools were formally teaching

Play Jurism

(Ahhhhh…..compulsion….relieved……)

Tips for the First Date

MSN’s running a list of five tips for an effective first date. It looks like a pretty good list, undoubtedly compiled by a trained therapist or whatnot (all right, I did not Google “Jim Sulski” to find out, dear reader; I leave the in-depth show prep to Rush Limbaugh).

Instead, dear reader, I offer my tips for a first date. I think I am qualified, since my last first date worked out okay. So here’s the StLBrianJ tips:

  • When meeting your Internet pen pal for the first time in person, select a neutral, out of the way spot to meet.

    We met at a commuter lot off of Interstate 70. Somewhere out of sight will comfort your date, ensuring her that no one will see you and her together in case you’re a dweeb.

  • Be patient while waiting for your date.
    When you’re anticipating a single woman with auburn hair in a white Ford Tempo, do not peel out of your parking spot in reverse when a white sedan bearing a woman with auburn hair and THREE CHILDREN parks in the spot RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. Instead, gallantly remain patient and think of all the ways you can end the date very early. That way, if it turns out that this family were really meeting some guy in a monster SUV, you have not sacrificed your chance to snare a hot conservative chick on a bicycle.

  • Dress appropriately.
    Remember, a black fedora is the way to say “creepy,” and the added touch of a 1-inch stump of a ponytail says “but dorky.”

  • Listen to what she has to say.
    By “Listen to what she has to say,” I mean don’t say a freaking word. She’ll think you’re interested in her, and you don’t volunteer that you’re a geek who thinks a good Saturday night involves sitting around playing Ataris, drinking beer, and passing around laddie magazines.

  • Show no emotion.
    Don’t smile at all. Lead her to wonder why you’re so mysterious, even though you’re just really afraid you’re going to blow it.

  • She doesn’t drink coffee or like cigarette smoke? Take her to the Grind!
    Nothing shows your sophistication like a European-style coffeehouse where all the au pairs have nicotine breath and the coffee is expensive.

In other words, I had no idea what I was doing or why it went so swimmingly.

The Resume

Today was my last day at my current job, and the end of a personal era. Let me explain.

I entered the work force in 1990 when I moved from a forsaken Marcellus (that is, not a town, not a village, not even a Hamlet, but rather a minor character therein) to Milwaukee to attend the prestigious (to those in Milwaukee) Marquette University. I worked my way through college since I screwed off my way through scholarships (quickly), so I held that first job for the four years it took me to complete Writing Intensive English (WINE–who could ask for a better degree?) and Social Philosophy degrees.

After that, though, I graduated with degrees that “prepare you for anything” but give you little in terms of an actual job path. As such, I held a number of positions, many in retail and many part time overlapping with other positions.

I’ve often told stories of my varied resume for the amusement of my co-workers. However, the allusions to my resume can fail to capture the nature and breadth of the job bouncing I’ve done, so I provide the following accounting for their reckoning and your amusement:

Company Title Duration
Gold’s/Sheridan’s Shop Rite Bagger/Checker/Produce Clerk 47 months
Blue Horseshoe Productions Telemarketing Fund Raiser 1 months
Price Chopper Utility Clerk 3 months
National Systems, Inc. Marketing Research Assistant 1 months
Better Business World Guy Friday/Computer Assembler 3 months
Artmart Shipping/Receiving Clerk 8 months
Sappington Farmers Market Produce Clerk 15 months
The Paint Dealer Assistant Editor 4 months
Drug Package, Inc. Class II Web Printing Press Operator 24 months
TALX Corporation Documentation Specialist 8 months
Data Research Associates, Inc. Technical Writer/Automated Tester 21 months
MetaMatrix, Incorporated Technical Writer 35 months
Tripos, Incorporated Quality Assurance Engineer I ?

It’s a lot of job bouncing, undoubtedly, but a lot of it took place in the early part of my “career,” when an extra fifty cents an hour meant a ten percent pay raise.

Overall, within my employment history, jobs have been fluid, plentiful, and easily changed. In today’s economy, it’s important to keep this in mind. I’ve never felt that a single job’s going to provide for my retirement (nor will a single government system like Socialism Security). I’ve also been comfortable moving forward as well as backward or side-to-side to find something new, and I’ve worked at crummy jobs enough to realize that you can always find something if you’re willing to be honest and to work earnestly.

It’s a big step, though, leaving a place I’ve worked for almost three years. Don’t laugh; these have been three important, formative years in my life. They represent years 2-4 in my marriage and 1-3 in home ownership. I wrote my best novel manuscript yet, John Donnelly’s Gold, while at this last job.

So I’m moving on, and as I reflect on my job history, several things clarify:

  • I’ll always need to attach an extra sheet as necessary when filling out those foolish job applications for advanced positions which demand your complete job history from the time you were a “sonographic model.”
  • Every job is a McJob now, no matter what its rank or salary.
  • My latest novel manuscript, John Donnelly’s Gold, has not yet made me independently wealthy to the point wherein I can sleep until ten o’clock, putter until two o’clock, nap until four o’clock, and write about the fictional human condition until one or two in the morning.
  • The position into which I am going is my thirteenth job, and I should resign now before the dire consequences occur.

The New Traditional

I heard on the radio today a commercial for the newest and bestest Lasik eye surgery techniques, which explained that whatever new gimcrackatron they’ve devised certainly beats the traditional Lasik methods.

Undoubtedly, Dr. McCoy would agree that those old, traditional means of Lasik surgery (such as those deployed against Virginia Postrel) were medieval butchers and that they were only one step above using leeches to suck that astigmatism right out of the eyeball.

Pardon me, but my family doesn’t have a generations-long tradition for opening the front of the eyeball like a can of french-cut green beans and firing a computer-guided thing-we-used-to-call-a-“laser” against the retina until it scorched enough of the cones and rods to make things better, as though it was a military expedition to win over the hearts and minds of my optic nerve with napalm. Oh, yeah, and then they close it back up, and it either works or you’re blind, oops.

Pardon me, but I have done too much QA with computers to trust them with anything like the impressionist-themed remainder of my vision, thankyouverymuch. Sure, I realize that the chances of failure are slim, but I buy lottery tickets with slimmer odds.

So my traditional Lasik surgery technique is mocking the very prospect. And as a conservative, remember, I demonstrate:

  • Fear and aggression of losing what remains of my sight.
  • Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity in adhering to my gruesome description of the procedure.
  • Uncertainty avoidance because new technology bad.
  • Need for cognitive closure so let’s just drop the subject.
  • Terror management by thinking happy thoughts instead of Lasik procedures as I go to sleep to keep away the nightmares.

So thanks, but no schnucking way thanks.

This sentiment guaranteed only until next midlife crisis.

Clean Your Plate Or No Television Tonight!

My darling wife has discovered that people get fat from cleaning the plates put down in front of them in restaurants.

Pardon my french fry-induced coronary, but come on. Parents throughout the country made their little boomers clean their plates, and the boomers tried to enforce this dictum on Generation X. So when restaurants started putting pounds of high-margin plate fillers in front of paying customers to make the customers feel like they were getting four RBIs’ in their Grand Slams, the customers would have made their parents proud. And they got four bags, all right, sagging upon their bods.

People have been conditioned to eat what’s in front of them, but hey! You’re Pavlovian pooches. Stop drooling when you hear the dinner bell, and push it away. You can still have your after-dinner Guinness. The waitress won’t think less of you than she does already, you hard-to-please pinhead at table 42.

How about you only cook half the box of Taquitos, muchacho, or put half of them into the refrigerator for tomorrow. You’ll still get all that good yummy Xanthan, Guar, and Carob Bean Gums and annatto colorant, but because you spread it over two servings, you’ll get a better chance to savor them.

I understand thinking about what you’re eating doesn’t burn as many calories as just indiscriminately shoveling crap into your gaping maw, but sometimes it works better.