Tuesday, November 29, 2005
It was because a substation in Columbus exploded yesterday, taking out two transformers and knocking out power for nearly 30,000 people. I wasted nearly an eternity in thought, counting the number of non-existent tiles on the ceiling and aimlessly wondering what would have happened to me if I had finished several of my as yet incomplete degrees. The two in question were History and Electrical Engineering, and the possibilities included therein would likely have taken me to a place where they have not only larger paychecks than the opportunities either of my completed degrees (Information Systems and International Strategic Management) offer me, but stable access to electricity as well!
Decisions. Decisions. One morning you make the right choice and end up meeting the person of your dreams in some fancy café where the drinks are far too expensive, the flowers glint brightly in the sun, and everybody in attendance wears a beret and a dark existential mask which belies a central belief that life really is a play and they are the star instead of the Shakespearean ideal of a lonely person strutting and fretting their Warholian fifteen minutes before they are forgotten entirely. Another day you make a bad decision and you end up sitting on your living room couch in the dark, wondering where it all went wrong.
The ticking of the clock slowed exponentially and in the eon between 7:05:04am and 7:05:06am, I had a thought. That thought was a little song I used to sing from time to time when the happenings of the day made little sense
“Pants. Pants. A revolution in my pants.”
It isn’t an invention of mine. It was, in fact, an invention of a former employee of mine from way back in the lonely days and nights I spent managing the Circulation Department of the Medical School Library at the University of Cincinnati. The author was Tim Hall, a student worker who majored in both Philosophy and Jazz Guitar. He shared my disdain for both formal education and real work. His motto, aside from the aforementioned ditty, was “Why have one useless degree when you can have two at twice the price?”
This is a maxim of life to which I have remained faithful these many years.
Tim was an interesting fellow. He was lanky, unkempt, and habitually unshaven, and he had a nervous nature that reminded me of a young Woody Allen or Elvis Costello strung out on cocaine and a constant influx of expensive coffee.
Rather than save his money to purchase the acoustic guitars he used to create his music (with complex philsophical lyrics!), Tim taught himself the art of guitar-making. He and his fiancé lived in a small two bedroom apartment just off campus. One room was the master bedroom and the other was his workshop. Tim didn’t just purchase the guitar parts from the manufacturer and piece them together with a few happy nails and squirts of wood glue. No. Tim bought planks of specific wood, molded them according to the templates he had created on his own, and fashioned them together in artistic precision. He fashioned the various frets and stands that make up a guitar from specific pieces of metal, and he spent countless hours in the back room of his apartment tweaking everything just so, all with the intent of crafting the perfect musical instrument.
“Why don’t you go all out and just cut down a few trees to get your supplies,” I said, astonished at all that went into making even the simplest of guitars.
“Because that would be stupid,” he said with a straight face. “And besides, it would take far too much time.”
He was a good humored atheist, which made for interesting conversation. I once told him that it was pointless to think that way since being a person of faith affords you the opportunity to believe a host of crazy things whereas atheists, requiring proof for everything, never have any fun. He countered one day with the pronouncement that even the Dewey decimal system had the right idea when it cataloged the Bible under the call letters “BS.” BS, of course, is the acronym given to bovine excretory substances. In case you didn't know.
It might not sound like it, but we had a lot of fun working together.
One evening, while hanging out at the Circulation Desk with nothing to do, Tim stood from his seat, looked directly at me, and said, “Pants. Pants. A revolution in my pants.” He then walked out of the room as if he had merely stated that he would like to purchase a bottle of soda or that he needed to visit the restroom. He came back a few minutes later and promptly sat down at a computer to check his e-mail. Never did he offer an explanation.
“What he hell was that?” I said, almost screaming.
“What the hell was what?” he said calmly, not looking away from the monitor.
“You know. That whole pants revolution thing you just said.”
“Oh that. It was too quiet in here. I needed to break the monotony.”
“What monotony?” I said. He turned away from the computer and look at me with a smile waiting just behind his eyes.
“In case you haven’t noticed, Joe, we work in a library. It’s all monotony.”
“What does it mean?” I asked, still confused.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “It’s like one of those Bhuddist chants. There’s no meaning. The advantage is in the repetition.”
“But it’s funny.”
“So what?” he said, “Just because its funny doesn’t mean it doesn’t fulfill its purpose. Just try it. It’s really quite relaxing.”
I tried to forget it. I really did. I wanted to let it go, to forget the chant, to move on with the rest of the boring day that remained. But it has a catchy beat to it, as idiotic as it was. And, as anybody who has listened to Annie Lennox knows, stupidity is sticky. It gets into your head and waits. Just when you think it’s gone, it comes back with reinforcements, replaying itself over and over, driving you mad.
For the rest of the evening, I had Tim’s little Bhuddist phrase running through my head. Pants ... Pants. While I checked e-mail. Pants ... Pants. While I read a story about George W. Bush on CNN. And while I sat at my desk, staring at the clock as the last moments of the work day faded into oblivion. A revolution in my pants.
“It’s stuck in your head, isn’t it?” Tim said after we had closed the library and made as we made the long walk across the parking lot to our respective cars.
“Yeah, but it’ll go away soon enough,” I said. “These kinds of things rarely last long.”
He smiled at me with that stupid smile as I got into my car, and though I warded it off with all my might, the only thing I could think was “Pants. Pants. A revolution in my pants.”
Memories of the past are strange. They come to you of their own will and for their own reasons we cannot know. They just are. One moment you’re at work, typing out an analysis report, and you have trouble recalling red letter days of your past with any sort of clarity. And then, for no reason at all, you find yourself sitting on a couch in the dark, desperately trying to think of anything other than the mantra which runs through your head without end.
Pants. Pants. A revolution in my pants. ... It still doesn’t make sense to me.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Friday, November 18, 2005
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE SASQUATCH
Restrictions apply, from us, the wishor, to you, here and after called the wishee. Please accept with out obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, politically correct, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the Winter Solstice Holiday practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice or secular practices of your choice with respect for hte religious or secular persuasions and or traditions of others or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all, and a financially successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition on the onset of the generally accepted calendar year of 2006, but with due respect to the calendars of choice of other cultures or sects and having regard for the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or dietary preference of the wishee. By accepting the greeting you are bound by the terms at the greeting and without subject to further clarification or withdrawal. This greeting is freely transferable providing that no authorization shall be made to the original greeting and that the proprietary rights of the wishor are acknowledged. This greeting implies no promise by the wishor to actually implement any of the wishes. This greeting may not be enforceable in certain jurisdictions and or the restrictions herein may not be binding upon certain wishees in certain jurisdictions and is revocable at the sole direction of the wishor. This greeting is warranted to perform as reasonably may be expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of subsequent holiday greetings, whichever comes first. This wishor warrants this greeting only for the limited replacement of this wish for the issuance of a new wish at the sole direction of the wishor. Any reference in this greeting to "The Lord" or "Father Christmas" or "Our Savior" or any other festive figures, whether active or fictitious, dead or alive, shall not imply any endorsement by or from them in respect to this greeting, and all proprietary rights and any references, third party names, and images are hereby acknowledged.
Merry Christmas from The Sasquatch. Some restrictions may apply.
stolen from here
Monday, November 14, 2005
Here are some topics I plan to investigate. If you like one more than the other, let me know. If you have an idea that is not on the list let me know. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and pour a cup of boiling hot water over your face in order to dull the imminent pain that will inevitably result from…
THE SASQUATCH: BLATHERINGS OF A MINDLESS IDIOT.
1) Intelligent Design
2) Politics in America.
4) The status of baseball as the American national pastime.
5) George W. Bush.
6) The existence of God.
This should drive all of you away in a hurry.
We believe in, like, whatever man.
Outside the parking lot to the Panera there stood a policeman directing traffic. As I said, it is a busy intersection, and there is no light to govern the mad drivers as they zip past. I saw the policeman standing there in the cold and I envied him. He tweeted the whistle. Tweet. Tweet. And again. Tweet tweet tweet. How exciting it must have been! The prospect of tweeting the whistle for all you are worth only to have some unsuspecting motorist, lost in the joyous rapture of the local music station, slam on the brakes a second too late and plow you over at a speed just slightly over the locally enforced limit. What a rush.
For some reason I thought of that nameless protestor at Tiananmen square. That guy didn’t have a whistle. Imagine what he could have done if that had been the case. Tweet tweet. And again. Tweet tweet tweet.
** ** ** ** ** ** **
I made my way down to campus this morning to interview for a position as a Systems Analyst. The drive was nice. I didn’t get lost, which is a rarity in my case. Thank God for small answers to small prayers.
I parked in the garage and made my way to the office only to find that I was thirty minutes early. To pass the time, I sat in the waiting room and talked with the administrative assistant. I don’t know her name because she didn’t have a name tag, but I will call her Sherry. She looked like a Sherry.
Sherry and I exchanged pleasantries, remarking the coldness of the weather and the thickness of the traffic. While we waited, Sherry and I discussed all the fun that comes with working at Universities. She’s been a proud employee of THE Ohio State University for a little over a year now and I recently gave up a lucrative career watching movies and eating pizza at The University of Cincinnati. We then spoke of our current jobs. She says she likes hers, but she was enthralled with the idea of No-work Mondays.
“Oh my gosh,” she said. “I bet you just love your job don’t you.” Then we both laughed at the irony. Tweet tweet tweet.
The interview began with the interviewer telling me all about what he expects of the new hires. He described, in laborious detail, the specifics of the business structure and how he is now the software team lead. He spoke of the IDE they use and what standards they expect of me, should I be offered the position. Then he asked me to share some of my own experiences. I spoke of my past job as a Manager at the U of Cincy, and how I had developed several small-scale applications that managed inventory control and statistical analysis. I spoke of my four month stint in Technical Support at the hellhole of the Kroger Corporation. I elaborated upon the specifics of Airport Analysis and Portal Community Management. He asked me a few technical questions and I knocked them out of the ballpark like Barry Bonds on a basketful of steroids.
Then he said it. The death sentence. That statement which has haunted each and every one of my technical interviews over the last two and a half years. “We’re actually looking for somebody with three to five year’s experience,” he said. “We’re not interested in training anybody.”
“You don’t have to train me,” I said. “I have developed several applications which highlight my skills, and I have a list of references who will speak of the vastness of my knowledge. Further,” I continued. “If you plan to migrate to the updated version of your IDE, I will be one of the few who is well versed in that technology as well.”
He continued speaking, but the tone of the interview had changed. There was no chance for me. I knew it. I had tried directing traffic to the best of my ability, but it seems that the pre-requisite for all managers everywhere is that they are incapable of thinking outside predefined parameters. They focus on one thing and one thing only. They listen to the one radio station and, without ever having seen the calamity ahead, plow over all those in front of them as though nothing is wrong.
Tweet tweet. And again. Tweet tweet tweet.
** ** ** ** ** ** **
As I sat in Panera, reading a book and eating a bowl of soup, I decided I have had enough. If this job does not pan through, I am giving up on I.T. I don’t want it and it doesn’t want me. There are other things on which I can waste my time. And when the truth comes out, I don’t really feel like standing in the middle of the road waiting to get run over by an idiot. I prefer not to.
The conversation was choppy, however, because she is a person who is fond of speaking and I am a person who can go whole weeks without saying words. Beyond that, though, I was dumbfounded at how peaceful and sure of herself she seemed. She spoke of her roommates and how well they got along. She spoke of her recent trips to Boulder in search of good sushi. She spoke of her new nose ring.
And after each story, I said, “Wow, cool” with the disinterested blandness of a person who does not care. At least, that is how I imagined it sounded. The truth is different, however. I was and still am very much interested in how things are going and what she plans to do next. But, as I said, I am not fond of speaking. Words flow like spring rain when I’m writing but when I speak they flow like water in the desert.
That’s a fancy way of saying I don’t like to talk much.
Still, I was excited to hear what is going on. In particular, I was fond of her words regarding the status of her life in general. They were good words and I will share them with you now.
“I feel like my life is beginning,” she said. “I’m 26 and right now I feel like my life is beginning.”
That’s a profound thing, I think. Most people, myself included, rarely feel as though they are in the right place doing the right thing at the right moment. Most people, I think, float from situation to situation in search of either the epitome of selfish entertainment or some greater meaning or purpose to the mundane aspects of life. That’s how I feel, anyway; especially when I’m in line at McDonalds. I look at the health info on the back of the Double Quarter Pounder (with cheese!) and I say to myself, “What am I doing here! Dear God what am I doing here.”
Then I eat the burger anyway. Because McDonalds burgers taste so good.
Her statement above was part of a greater conversation about how she has always been dualistic in her approach to considering missionary work. She was cautious, she said, which I took to mean that she had questioned her calling several times over in search of false motivations and extenuating circumstances. Her other side, what I like to call the fun side, was full of reckless abandon. It was the side that said “Fuck it! Let’s go! Let’s go right now!”
That was actually my fun side. Her fun side would probably have abstained from profanity. The sentiment is the same, though, and when she told me of this felling, I wanted to say, “Yes, I feel exactly the same way. At times I feel like I know what I want to do and all that is stopping me from doing that thing is my job and my bills; both of which I hate. So what’s stopping me? Drop the (*censor*) and let’s get moving!”
Then the boring side of me says, “But you can’t drop your life. If you don’t pay your bills, your car will get repossessed. If you don’t go to work, your boss will fire you. Then what will you be? Broke, bored, and useless.”
Nevermind that I’m already broke, bored, and useless.
So I wanted to tell her that I admire what she is doing. I admire the courage it takes to drop everything and do that one thing you know you’re supposed to do. I admire her ability to look at the instability inherent in such a life, the lack of a plan or a fallback position should her current situation change. I admire the heart she has for her upcoming trips to help out with AIDS orphanages in South Africa. I admire the faith it takes to say, “Yeah! Let’s go!”
All I said, though, was “Cool.” I hope she understood.
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Yep, I''ll never find a girlfriend now.
Keep on Rockin,
Friday, November 11, 2005
High School English Teacher
I like this idea because it means I will likely get to read a lot more than I do now and I might actally have a positive effect on somebody's life. Sure, I'd have to field the ever-popular "phineas is gay" debate, but I'd get my summers off! That, at least, is a good thing! I would have to go back to school, of course, but I was about halfway to an English degree with all the pointless electives I took. And I've read most of the stuff on uperclassmen reading lists anyway.
I don't have a specific job lined up yet for this field of work. I like the idea of roaming around the woods, stopping to stare at a small weed or leaf on a tree, writing something down in a book, and moving on. I'm kind of an environmentalist. I'd ride my bike to work if I weren't so fat. And lazy. I like caribou. Who knows? It could work.
You could also replace the title of this job with "poor loser," since my chances of making a successful career out of it are about as likely Zach De la Rocha voting Republican. But you never know. Stranger things have happened. If I could get people to actually pay me for my worthless thoughts and words...that would be the greastest heist ever to befall the days of man.
There is a reason why people never pick History when I get to the center of the board in Trivial Pursuit. I know ancient Mayan religious practices like the back of my hand. I can wax philosophicaly aobut both the similarities and differences between Socratic and Sophist thought. I know the other reason why 1066 was an important year. I also know what SPAM is really made of (it's people. IT's PEOPLE!). I could finish up a bachelor's degree in History in about a year or a year and a half and move onto graduate school immediately afterwards. Then all I'd need is a pipe and a tweed jacket with loosely sewn arm patches. Then I'd be set.
What? Bowling's a cool sport, right?
Continue wasting my time in search of the Great IT job
Or, should I just spend more time looking for an IT job that isn't likely to come? I have spent the last three years looking for an IT job. Or maybe even an IT niche in whatever job it was I was working. Sure, businesses are willing to let me program applications for them and serve as the company help desk, but ask them to pay for for your services and watch their assholes pucker up tighter than a protestant woman's purse strings. I'd like to do this job. Maybe not as much as a writer or a history professor. but I would like it. And since I have a degree in this field, you'd think something would have come out of the (literally) 12,154 jobs I have applied for. Sadly, I have been a full time professional now for almost 6 years and I still waste most of my time doing stuff like this. Not because I am lazy or shiftless, either. There is only so much you can do in an entry level position before its time to move on. unfortunately, most businesses aren't willing to let their people do that.
Let me know what you think. Throw caution to the wind! If you are the only one who votes, you get to determine what I do with the rest of my life. Just remember...if it end up a failure, I'm coming after you.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
(The speaker comes to center stage. There is only the spotlight on his/her face as she/he speaks.)
SPEAKER: It started with silence; not mere quietness or lack of noise, but actual, real silence: the absence of sound; the lack of existence; the definition of that which was never meant to be.
As if in understanding of this wrong-ness, a voice broke the silence, singing a beautiful, poetic song unbounded by fear, buffeted by love, and clothed in splendor. This song painted the sky and the earth, the sun and the moon, thick forests and vast deserts that, in their inherent beauty, defied the silence and the darkness, which had become but a distant memory.
The song continued, reaching even greater heights with each passing second. It spoke of Passion, of Joy, of Happiness, of Love. And when the song was finished, when it had reached it zenith, man came forth from the nothingness. The song’s greatest creation. That thing for which it was intended.
The man heard the voice and the song even after the singer had rested. It was writ upon his heart, his mind, and his soul. He followed the song as he wandered with expectant Joy through the beautiful creation the singer had given him. The man, the song, and the singer were in harmony. And the singer was pleased.
Then one day, he saw it. Strange fruit. Pieces of truth. A gift for the deserving. “I must have it,” the man said. “For I am tired of wandering and the new beauty of this gift weighs on my heart like rain.” And he reached out his hand to pluck it from the tree.
The voice was insistent. “This is not for you,” it said. “Real truth casts no shadows. These pieces of truth are mired in darkness, hidden in confusion, and bathed in rebellion.”
The man became angry. “I am worthy!” he shouted. “And who are you to tell me what to do; you, who created this garden, this tree, this fruit? What is its purpose if not for my own enjoyment?”
“I have commanded it,” the voice said. “You must obey,” it said, with a hint of sadness.
“I will not,” the man said. And he took the fruit. And he put it in his pocket to carry with him as he wandered the endless expanse of beauty.
But the song in his heart changed. Strange rhythms and discordant notes filled his ears. The beautiful melody darkened and receded. It grew quiet. And the darkness and the silence, that wrong-ness which was never meant to be, again took root.
The man gasped in horror, realizing what he had done. He no longer wanted the gift. He meant to throw it away, to cast it down, to bring back the beauty of the song before it was too late. But the fruit was no longer there. It had disappeared. It was writ upon his heart, his mind, and his soul where the beautiful song once rested.
The song grew quiet. The man cried out against the coming silence. The song faded. He shielded his face against the sad and terrible darkness. And the song disappeared.
And the man was cold. And the man was naked. And the man was alone. All that remained was the memory of the song that once was, and that loud, terrible silence.
(the lights go dark)
So I had to look up each and every sentence of the chapter. I didn't do this because I have a dedication to my job or an excellent work ethic. No no no. I did this because I had no idea what the hell they were talking about. Prokaryote? Thermophile? Prion? WTF?
Now it's going on 2 in the morning. I have to be at work in just over 5 hours, I have ground school afterwards, and then I plan to come home and crash. Literally. I plan to drive home, fall asleep along the way, and ram my car into the nearest telephone pole.
I'm going to bed before I catch Curetzfeldt-Jacob disease, whatever the hell it is.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Let me explain. I have a recurring character in many of my dreams. It is an orangutan who haunts me and threatens me to no end. It probably started back when I was in college. I would have a normal, run of the mill dream where nothing interesting was going on and, out of nowhere, the orangutan would attack. In one particular dream, I was driving down Winton Road near my old apartment in Cincinnati. It was a nice day, I remember, until the car next to me exploded. I looked behind to see the dastardly chimp manning a flying saucer which shot laser beams at me. Lukcily, I escaped with my life.
As I grow older, however, the dreams grow both in clarity and in strangeness. A few years ago, I dreamt that I was sitting in a friend’s living room as they shared the wonderful news that they were expecting a child. Suddenly, the orangutan jumped out from behind the sofa and punched me in the face. He then fled, jumping out the window. I followed in pursuit, only to find that my friend’s house now sat atop a large cliff overlooking the sea. I caught up with the orangutan as we fell ana a spectacular light saber battle ensued. The simian scored a lucky punch, rendering me unconscious long enough for him to float to the ground and drive off in an SUV.
He flipped me the bird as he drove away.
He made several appearances in me dreams throughout college and into my “professional” life, but for the last few months he has remained eerily silent. I feared he was hiding in the shadows, planning his next move.
Last night, he struck again. I dreamt I was on stage at Carnegie hall playing my world renowned kazoo concerto, Das Maschinen des Schicksals, when I noticed certain members of the audience had morphed into monkeys and apes and gorillas and baboons and such. The longer I played, the more the people changed, and eventually the entire audience consisted of primates. As the concerto came to its emotional apex, the evil orangutan ran onstage, stole my kazoo, and broke it in half.
“Hey,” I said. “That was my lucky kazoo.”
“I know,” the orangutan said to me, “but you fail to realize the philosophical significance and are therefore unworthy.” I was surprised to learn that the orangutan sounded exactly like Bea Arthur.
It then ran offstage. I attempted to give chase yet again. This time, I thought, I will not be stopped by your petty light saber tricks! But, alas, the audience of primates had a different idea. They hooted. They screamed. They flung feces like thick rain. And the orangutan got away again.
He’s back, though. And one of these days I will catch him. One of these days I will make him pay.