November 2015 Archives

resistable link of the day

I was researching probiotics when...


prescription for happiness

Longtime crush Emma contacted me the other day to catch up.

I am a weary, suspicious burnout of an old man. No one who knows me would correct that statement. (In my head, I hear Dorkass say "You're also fat.") I am decades removed from adolescent excitements. Yet when I saw Emma's name on my phone, long-dead butterflies in my stomach burst to life. What is it with this woman? I thought. No one does that to me anymore.

We chatted for a while about mutual friends and her husband and kids. One would think that I'd be disappointed that she's still happily married and that her life is a Norman Rockwell postcard, but I am uncharacteristically altruistic on all matters Emma. If she were ever that unhappy, it would break the dessicated remains of my heart. My lofty principles are no doubt aided by the certainty that I would have no shot whatsoever.

Nevertheless, she remains my ideal. I can't help it. Whenever someone asks for what type of woman I'm waiting, her face alone flits through my mind. "I don't know," I'll lie.

Here's a telling life choice: I'm waiting out a happy marriage between two people younger and healthier than me. This plan is a mortal lock.

the gift

When I first showed up at Microsoft for an interview, I had driven literally straight from college. That explains, I think, the naiveté evident in my next sentence. I was wearing a suit.

The interview went well, and as my sweatpants-clad future boss walked me out of the building, she flicked her fingertips at what a college student thinks is a power tie. "And that's the last time you'll wear one of those," she said.

She was wrong, of course. In the intervening decades, four social occasions have required that I wear a tie, and I assure you that I bitched incessantly through each event. Such is the spoiled life of someone in the tech industry. I whine about having to wear pants.

This morning, I slip on tie #5. As I wondered where my ties are, I also wondered if I could possibly remember how to tie one. And there they were in the back of my closet, covered with a layer of crypt dust, relics of low-budget early-90s fashion. And on the end was the last tie I wore, a plain red one, still in its knot from 13 years ago.

Thank god. I have no recollection of deciding to leave the knot, but I thanked my younger self for his foresight.


If I'm ever more smug than when I see an old love interest show up in Facebook's "People You May Know" feature when:

  1. we have zero mutual contacts, and
  2. I never searched for her,
I don't know when it could possibly be.

the new abs of empathy


You think you've cringed hard, but you haven't seen his hashtags yet.



the second-worst thing about terrorist attacks

Whenever terrorists strike, my initial reaction is, of course, grief. Dread quickly follows, but not dread of subsequent violence.

First come the co-opters. They make every issue about themselves. Friday night, I cynically opened Facebook and waited for the French flags to appear across people's faces. It took several hours, but soon enough, thar they blow'd. It was exactly the same folks who'd peered at us through rainbows a few months ago. I suppose they mean well, but I dreaded its inevitability. There's more than a whiff of self-aggrandizing attachment to someone else's tragedy.

Then come the jerkoffs, straining to interpret events as validation for their beliefs. It's Obama's fault. It's Bush's fault. It's immigration's fault. It's religion's fault. It's the wrong religion's fault. If everyone in France were armed, this wouldn't have happened. Every event can simultaneously validate every possible agenda. The human mind is nothing if not facile.

Next come the apologists, racing to be the first to be contrary. We must consider the conditions that led these people to such desperate acts, their Microsoft Word macro tells us. Also, this isn't real Islam.

Me, I just felt awful for the victims. I'm broken that way.

more than just a pretty face

My boss of five years recently hired Trixie. She's 24, smoking hot, and tragicly unqualified for the job she holds. Armed with her degree in media communications and a six month internship as a local TV reporter, she was appointed a program manager at a Fortune 500 tech company.

I began to berate my boss, as I am wont to do under these circumstances, but he stayed his vivisection. "Oy. Trixie. Yeah. Before you say anything, did you know she's the daughter of the administrative assistant of the CEO?"

And just like that, my stabbiness shifted targets. I'm nothing if not reasonable.

And thus has my job come to include a task that both amuses and appalls me. I stealthily redo Trixie's work. The sequence goes like this:

  1. Trixie produces something incompetent.
  2. Boss, seeing that it's incompetent, tells her "Great work, daughter of the CEO's admin!"
  3. Boss then asks me to redo her work but to keep my involvement a secret.
  4. Boss uses my work instead of Trixie's.
  5. Trixie never notices (see incompetent, above).
  6. Repeat.
My work + her face = a potent combination. There is little doubt in my mind that in five years, I'll be working for Trixie in addition to working as her.

sexist thoughts, part deux

Steph visited Seattle for four days. When I discovered that she didn't check luggage, I almost proposed on the spot. True, she's a friend happily married to another friend, but that's how much a woman not checking luggage means to me.

I gots scars.

Beyond that, I can think of only one other bias I hold against women. They should almost never be given jobs that involve speaking into a megaphone or intercom. A poorly amplified high-pitched voice is a spectacularly eyeball-bursting sound. Other than that, ladies, you have my blessing to do what you want with your lives.

Except rap. I forgot girl rap. It's awful. No.

sexist thoughts, part 1

Anybody who's read this page for 10 minutes probably suspects that I vastly prefer the company of women. And I don't mean that as a euphemism for anything, either. This preference has as least as much to do with men as it does with women. I do not see the point of socializing with most men. I hate golf, I spend as little time as possible maintaining my yard, I think cars are an absurd way to spend money, and I've no interest in comparing penis size. Read into that what you will.

Meanwhile, a single mother raised me. When she died, a succession of beleaguered girlfriends and female friends, mentors, and bosses took over, chipping away at my rough edges until I vaguely approximated a human. They shaped me. You can certainly bet that anything redeeming about me, I learned from a woman. When I survey my life, I often feel grateful, even indebted, to other people. Yet I feel indebted to no man. Not one.

Men are the valets of my life. They're there. I see them. I even opt to interact with them from time to time. But their sole purpose is so optional, so redundant, they are utterly superfluous.

• • •

Tangent: Why do valets need to adjust my seat in order to drive my car 40 goddamned feet? And why, when I have a freakishly short 29" inseam, do they need to move the seat forward? The prevailing theory is "just to be assholes."

warning: trigger alert

Those of you scarred by dogs so moronic that they hike their leg on your deck, pee on said deck, and then scamper through their puddle on their way back into your house might want to skip this post.


frost warning

Seattle is undeniably beautiful, and if you're from Pittsburgh, it is also conspicuously gleaming and new. Like all visitors, Stephanie was dazzled by what she saw.

"What is it you hate about the people here, again?" she asked over dinner.

I reiterated what I told her a year ago, but why tell when you can show? As we left the restaurant, I held the door for Steph, and then, seeing a few women heading our way, whispered, "Watch this. Exhibit A."

And thus did the women walk through the magically open door, straining not to make eye contact with, or otherwise acknowledge, the person who had waited to hold it open for them.

"That. Was. AMAZING," said Steph, and I remembered all over again why I adore Pittsburghers. I would have had to explain my point to a Seattle person, then had to hear that my expectations are unreasonable.

it was a collective effort

Stephanie visited from Pittsburgh last week. A gentle hippie married to an even gentler one, they're raising gentle kids who go to a hippie private school. The kids, both achingly sweet, do not watch TV. They do not know from violence or swearing. All their toys have educational merits.

I made sure that their Nerf machine guns arrived a few hours after Mom departed for the airport. To heighten the kids' aim, I included five pounds of chocolate-covered espresso beans.

By the time I greeted Steph at the Seattle airport, she had talked to her husband. She hugged me, then cupped my face with her hands. "Who hurt you, John?"

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