July 2014 Archives

reader mail: left turns

I never know what's going to set you people off, but it turns out you have a lot of thoughts (not to mention barely restrained rage) about left-turn arrows. You are among friends here.

My favorite nugget came from recently uncloseted Stank troll C.J., who informed me about the Pittsburgh Left:

You turn left in front of them before they have a chance to react to their green light
I'll admit that I only do that when the doofus coming the other way is looking at his phone. I need to step up my game.

green arrow

On the West coast, drivers are seemingly incapable of turning left without the aid of a green arrow. I'm not sure what's cause and what's effect, but not coincidentally, almost every traffic light has a green arrow cycle, 24 hours a day. If there isn't a green arrow, you will never, ever see the driver in front of you ease into the intersection on yellow and squirt through. That is simply not in their repertoire here. And so you will sit behind them, trapped until the sun goes down and there are no oncoming cars.

It's crazy-making to idle at 2am, waiting for my turn as precisely zero vehicles go through the intersection. So I've increasingly started turning left on "red" when parallel traffic has a green light. It's perfectly safe. It's unnecessary in 47 other states. But from the reactions, you would think I aimed for an orphanage and floored the gas pedal.

33 days to Pittsburgh.

the sexiest thing i have ever seen

Now all I need is a defense to watch.

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class warriors

"How much did that cost?" asks seemingly every visitor. In response, I look down and shuffle my feet awkwardly as I resist the impulse to bitch-slap the rude out of them.

When I grew up in the Midwest, this was an impolite question, indicative of a complete absence of class. Either times have changed or my Seattle-based visitors are unbearably status-focused. You can guess which I believe.

No one ever asks how much a skillet or a lawnmower cost. It's always a traditionally statusy item. A car. A trip. A $500, unreturnable cookbook I ordered from Amazon in a delirious, pre-CPAP stupor at 4am. These people are worse than data-mining corporations.

"Would you like to just see my tax return?" I reply in my mind 10 hours later, when the initial numbness wears off and I think of the perfect response.

I'd say it, but I'm afraid they'd whip out reading glasses.

soon, my pets, soon

Flo is on her way to spend the day "working" at my house, so I'll surely have something to rant about soon.

Ah, there it is. She just texted me while driving, complaining about the slow drivers on Metamuville Rd. Anyway, while I collect bitchy anecdotes, here's something for you to chew on. I passed this sign the other day. And then I passed it again the next six days before it was changed. Sometimes, ya just wish you could hear the story.

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that old person smell

I bought a used Jeep from an elderly couple. Though 10 years old, it looks brand new, and it only has 40,000 miles on it. They pampered it. Nope, there just aren't many downsides to buying a car from an old couple.

The stereo settings when I took ownership:

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apples and trees

Katrina is constantly complaining about my attire.

"So...is it just the one black t-shirt and sweatpants that used to be black but have now faded into some kind of Corpse Blue? Or do you have multiple?" she asks.

Or simply, "News flash: you are not Steve Jobs."

When we went out to dinner the other night, I made a point of wearing a maroon dress shirt and beige slacks. She didn't notice, of course, so I pointed it out. She took exception to my phrasing.

"That is not a 'costume,' John. Those are what normal people call 'clothes.'"

Tomato, tomahto.

And so we dined, and then we returned to her waiting husband and child. I would visit, but first a couple of uncomfortable things simply had to go.

Welcome back, t-shirt and sweats. Daddy wuvs you.

Everyone was seated on the patio when I returned. The nine year old girl looked up at me and grimaced.

"Why did you change? You looked so nice!"

giving the last word

My sister Nadine unwittingly taught me this nifty trick.

She and I were embroiled in a weeks-long argument about how, by virtue of my not liking her and not wanting her in my life, I was aggrieving her terribly. Her argumentation style is to make a list of grievances on a legal pad that she keeps by the phone. This is not hyperbole. I've seen the pad. When a conversation begins, she is prepared to dominate it, not letting her victim get a word in edgewise. Among other effects, this makes people not want her in their lives.

One day she left me a dozen or so hysterically angry voice messages, and I finally stopped listening to them. I deleted them instead. And then a miracle happened: they stopped coming.

I had blundered into a win-win scenario. Nadine got what she wanted: the last word. She got to define the narrative forever. I'm sure I came off well in that narrative. And me, I got what I most wanted: her absence. To me, that was the crown jewel. Letting her declare victory and spin whatever mythology shut her the fuck up was a small price to pay.

I routinely give people the last word now. Whenever I have a falling out with a friend, girlfriend, neighbor or co-worker, I just delete their emails without reading them and satisfied, they go away. You'd think they would want to extract a pound of flesh, but they don't. Or perhaps they think the email I didn't read extracted it.

So long as I don't care about what people I don't care about have to say, it costs me absolutely nothing. It's miraculous.

My doctor graced our 4pm appointment with his presence at 4:51 pm, pushing me into rush-hour traffic and making it impossible for me to keep my next appointment. I was in a fine mood.

Foregoing the apology, he went through the usual questions. "How much are you exercising?" he asked, bored.

"I do the treadmill five days a week for 45 minutes, and weights the other two days."

"I'd like to see you increase the weights," he grumbled.

"Yeah, well, you can suck it."

Anyone know a good primary care physician?

world cup roundup

Old Germany has defeated New Germany, and now American poseurs can shuffle back to Whole Foods to get their free-range, gluten-free Chardonnay. For the rest of us, the world's most popular, most gambler-fixed, least scoring, and most flopping sport disappears for another four years. It's not long enough.

By far the highlight of this latest event was a headline about the biter from Uruguay (who are nicknamed the "Blues"): Chewy Luis and the Blues

drunk john

Like most inebriates, Drunk John is a moron. He's alternately affectionate and loutish. He thinks people are endlessly interesting, most especially himself. And the f-bomb becomes his every other word instead of every third. When post-mortems hinge on the nuances of urination prepositions ("Did I pee on the parking garage, or in it?"), you are a moronic drunk.

For this reason, I do not often drink.

When still at Microsoft, for reasons that seemed important at the time but that elude me now, I had to take a 350 page document and hand-tag it into HTML. I arrived at 9pm and would work until my 5am handoff. "If I'm spending all night inserting p tags, I'm sure as hell not doing it sober," I said to the woman whose fault it was. She gave me a bottle of rum, and I started drinking and tagging.

I got blind drunk. Yet astoundingly, I didn't make a single mistake. I couldn't do that sober if you gave me 10 tries. What the..?

It was then that I learned, with great alarm, that moronic Drunk John is a better performer at work than, well, me. I'm crushed by a guy who pees in parking garages.

And I didn't think I could hate him more.

This phenomenon last manifested when I was working for Flo. I was in Redmond resolving some crisis, and my work was done, and I wanted to see my friends. "Are you absolutely certain that I'm done?" I asked. "Because I'm going to go drinking." She told me to go. 90 minutes and maybe eight bourbons later, my phone rang.

"GETBACKHEREOHMYFUCKTHEBUILDISONFIRE!" she shrieked, or words to that effect.

I wobbled back to Microsoft, and I fixed that problem. Then I fixed several more, quickly and creatively, smiling and agreeable. I effervesced with great ideas.

"I want Drunk John to work for me forever," a bewildered Flo said afterward. "You, not so much."

victim of the week: andrew rector

This Yankees fan fell asleep during a game.

ESPN's cameras showed him, and the announcers made gentle fun of him. Naturally, he's suing the announcers, ESPN, and, tellingly, Major League Baseball for defamation. How much is one's pride worth?

It turns out it's a life-changing $10,000,000.

I don't think Andrew Rector is a fatty cow, which apparently only he heard the announcers say. From his seat. Nay, I say he is the Greatest Living American. Nod off in public, embarrass yourself, and then demand payment? That takes guts. Lots and lots of guts. Prodigious guts. He's a hero.

save me

Unlike anywhere else, in Seattle I am identified with football. Almost exclusively. I'm "the football guy" by virtue of the fact that I'd followed the sport before January, 2014.

When I dropped in on my neighbors' party Saturday night, it took all of three seconds for a familiar question to be asked. "So do you root for the Seahawks now?" Mind you, they're not asking it ironically or accusingly. Not at all. They truly think this is how it works. Why wouldn't I have started rooting for the Seahawks this year? They did.

Not wanting to be impolite, I didn't offer $1000 to any self-described Seahawks fan who could name 10 players. But I sure wanted to. That money was practically FDIC insured. I contented myself with sighing a comparatively polite "Nope."

They sputtered confusion. "I...I don't know how you couldn't...I mean...that was so FUN!" said one woman, mysteriously upset, not even looking me in the eye. The others nodded and echoed sincere mystification as to why I did not hop aboard the wagon that had brought them so much pretend happiness.

Fanship is like every other social interaction else in Seattle: a thin veneer wrapped around stale air. The trip to Pittsburgh cannot happen soon enough.

the dumb one

My dog Fredo ran full speed into a bench the other day. It was my fault. I'd waited too long to get the dogs groomed, and his bangs were completely obscuring his eyes.

That said, I seldom run full speed when can't see. I'm just sayin.'

I got the dogs groomed, and now four creepy, unblinking, clearly discernible doll eyes stare at me when I work. Later that day, Fredo ran full speed into the same park bench.

multitasking

I'm one of the few people, I think, who bought one of those Roomba things and actually uses it. My dogs stay downstairs, and the entire ground floor is hardwood, so this little robot vacuum fits my needs nicely.

Is it a noisy nuisance? Sure, I suppose. You'd have to ask the dogs. Me, I press the On button and retreat upstairs to use the treadmill, serenaded by the screams of terror emanating from below.

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