Sunday, July 24, 2011

Second Only to the Air-Conditioner, Was the Television

My parents actually had this exact television in the 70s and early 80s.

In my house, second only to the air-conditioner on the list of priorities, was the television. Here is a run-down of the television situation in my house when I was growing up:

Living room: television.
My bedroom: television.
My parent's bedroom: television.
The kitchen table: television.
My sister's bedroom: television.
The guest room: television.

Despite this large accumulation of televisions, indicating that no one in my family actually wanted to talk to one another, I currently don't watch television very often. I have no knowledge about current shows. I thought "House" was a reality show about a bunch of people living in a house. In 2000, I thought "Seinfeld" was a new show, only to find out that it ran from 1989-1998. I have never seen "Sex in the City," but that's probably because I have no interest in watching four women from New York discuss STDs and tampons, or whatever it is that women talk about these days. I haven't seen "24," but I heard people talking about it, so I think it's about a bunch of terrorists, but I can't be sure.

Also, I haven’t seen a lot of movies. People ask me, “Did you see [insert name of movie]?” When I answer, “No, I haven’t,” they tend look shocked and offended, as if they produced and directed the movie themselves.

There seems to be an inordinate amount of shows where a bunch of people do stuff, but then the people on the show that do the crappiest job of doing stuff get voted off, one at a time. Eventually, the person who does stuff the best emerges as the winner. America never hears about this person again.

"Stuff" includes tasks such as: eating rats and spiders on a remote island; losing 183 pounds in six days; attempting to replicate Mt. Rushmore in the form of a cupcake.

When I do watch television, I enjoy watching non-fiction crime shows, such as "Forensic Files" and "I Almost Got Away With It." I have learned valuable information, such as never to burn crime scene evidence in a forest because forensic geologists and botanists can study the growth rings in a tree, in an effort to aserctain when the fire actually occurred. Consequently, they can determine the time frame of the crime. Eventually, incarceration ensues. The end.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Mother's Air-Conditioning Checklist

Air-conditioning is a major priority in my family. We are New York Jews, and we do not deal well with discomfort. We had a big, 327894628374294082034 BTU air conditioner in the living room, and one summer day, it stopped working. We quickly purchased a new one and put it in the den-— there was no way we were going to wait for a repair man in the heat.

When it gets very hot, my mom likes to run down what I like to call "The Air Conditioning Checklist." It goes like this:

Mom: So, how's the air-conditioning working at home?
Me: Good! Nice and cool.
Mom: Oh good. You have central, right? (She asks every year).
Me: Yup, central! A nice, balanced spread of coolness in each and every room. I’m forever grateful for my central air!
Mom: Ahhh, I bet that feels nice. What about at work? Do you have central air at work?
Me: Nope, the house is too old. Air conditioners were put in all the windows before it got hot out, though.
Mom: But they work, right?
Me: Yes. They are all up and running.
Mom: Boy, I bet it must be miserable walking to the subway in the morning. Do they have air conditioning on those trains?
Me: The trains are kept nice and cold, but the platform is very hot.
Mom: Oh boy, that must really be miserable.
Me: It's pretty uncomfortable.
Mom: How far do you have to walk to get home from the subway stop? It must feel like an oven out there!!
Me: It takes about five minutes.
Mom: UGH!! You must be sweating by the time you get home! Miserable!!

Usually, at this point in the conversation, my mother has satisfied her need to ensure that all aspects of my environment are adequately cooled.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Whole Foods and Rita's Water Ice: A Colossal Disappointment

This is a two-part issue. Here is the first one:

My friend and I visited Rita's Water Ice. I was feeling joyous and free as I selected one of the two brand new flavors. "Honeydew!" I declared, eager with curiosity and wonder, as this would be my first time tasting this particular flavor. "I'm sorry. We are out of honeydew," the Rita's employee, who looked barely old enough to legally scoop water ice, told me. Although I felt slightly crushed, I recovered quickly. "Cantaloupe, please," was my next request. By the time the cup of cantaloupe water ice was handed to me, I was happily devouring it, honeydew a distant and unimportant memory. "Boy this cantaloupe water ice is good! I'm going to eat this everyday for the rest of my wretched life!" This is when a man sitting on a nearby bench, who we will refer to as "Damper #1," had to insert his unsolicited comment into the situation: "Well, Rita's closes in September." As things quickly began to deteriorate, my friend, who we will refer to as "Damper #2," felt the need to add to this debacle: "I see a flaw in your plan already," he commented. What had started out as a beautiful day, filled with butterflies, unicorns, and water ice, had disintegrated into a black hole of despair.

And here is the second part:

There are certain things that I like about Whole Foods. They certainly have some products that I really enjoy, that I can't seem to find elsewhere.

Let me start over.

There is absolutely nothing that I like about Whole Foods. However, I did go in there tonight to get something for dinner. I was pleasantly surprised to hear "Whisper to a Scream," by Icicle Works-- one of my personal favorites from the 80s. I did a nearly-covert, yet slightly noticeable dance, in the frozen food aisle, as I was pleased that my shopping experience now had a soundtrack. I ended up dancing my way over to the ice pops. I was overwhelmed by the many shelves of frozen treats. I wasn't sure what I wanted, but I had no doubt that I'd find it there.

I opened one of the freezer doors, and almost passed out with excitement-- mini ice cream sandwiches!! When I noticed that these were available in mint, it became clear that I was going to have to ask someone to call 9-1-1. Just as I was about to ask nearest employee for the cardiac defibrillator, I noticed that these treats were dairy-free. Anguish and sorrow washed over me, as this was my second frozen treat disappointment in three days.

As I took a moment to practice my coping skills, I realized that there were still additional freezer doors to open. I opened Door #2, anxious to see what prizes were awaiting me. I peered into the freezer, and saw the word "coconut." I threw open the freezer door, ready to grab the box of coconut-whatevers, and run the hell out of that obnoxious/overpriced/organic/vegan/vegetable/dairy-hating store. A closer look at the box informed me that these were not coconut-flavored ice cream bars; rather, they were made with some coconut crap, and did not include any dairy products at all. The next few moments were nothing short of horrific-- I went from freezer to freezer; shelf to shelf-- and saw words and phrases like: "Vegan!," "Made with Real Almonds-- Not Milk!," and "Organic!" I began to feel dizzy and suffocated by all the fake dairy products.

This entry will now end. The ending will probably be different than most endings that you are used to. Read on-- this is from a Gmail chat conversation that was taking place as I was trying to figure out the ending. I had asked a friend for advice.

Me: I'm having difficulty ending my blog entry. It's like a crash landing.
G: How so?
Me: Well, it just ends. There's nothing funny about it; nothing cool. Just ends. It's just like, “Eeeeeerrrrr... PLOMP.”
G: Not everything has to end funny or cool. Did it reach a logical end?
Me: I guess, but should I just write "Eeeeeeerrrr... PLOMP" to end it??
G: I like "eeer plomp" as an ending
Me: Really? Should it be "eeeeeeeeeeer" or "eeeeeaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrr?"
G: That is really up to the artist
Me: This is a tough decision.

The end.

Monday, July 18, 2011


An exchange that occurred between me and my friend on Gmail chat. It showcases my neurotic need to want to be better than everyone else.

Me: I have a mosquito bite.
G: I have a piranha bite
Me: I have a shark bite.
G: I have an alien from the movie 'Alien' bite
Me: I was eaten by a shark and I'm typing on my laptop from inside his stomach.
G: Really? There's an electrical outlet in a sharks stomach? Nice try.
Me: No, there isn't-- but the shark also ate an electric eel, so I'm sitting here with my power supply plugged into the eel's mouth.
G: That didn't happen
Me: You don't know that.
G: Alright, I am going to step away from the computer now. Night night.
Me: Goodnight. I'll just be floating here, in this shark. Talk to you tomorrow.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Mom Said...

In April, I began to write down some of my most memorable exchanges with my mother. These have been written down verbatim. They have not been altered in any way.

Mom: You know who I can't stand?
Me: Who?
Mom: That Arnold Schwartzendigger.
Me: Schwartzendigger?
Mom: Oh, I mean Schwartzenberger.

Me: I went to the gym at 10:15pm last night.
Mom: 10:15??? I certainly hope you drove there at that hour!!! Well??... did you drive, or were you walking the streets???

Me: There are no male staff at my job.
Mom: At least there's nobody for you to flirt with.
Me: What? You have nobody to drive the forklift?

Mom: Good luck tomorrow. Call me to let me know how it goes, but not between 8pm and 10pm because "Dancing with the Stars" is on.
Me: But mom, I have the seder after work.
Mom: I know. You can call me on your lunch hour or around 5:30pm. Good luck. I love you. You will do great. I have faith in you. Just don't do anything stupid.

Mom: What are you doing tomorrow?
Me: Volunteering for Jewish Federation of Philadelphia-- doing yard work for elderly people who can't do it themselves.
Mom: Jewish people?
Me: I don't know-- why?
Mom: I didn't think Jewish people needed volunteers to do that-- wouldn't they just hire a lawn service?

Mom: Soon you will be discovered by a talent scout.
Me: Doing what?
Mom: He will say-- "You can have any job you want."
Me: I think you got "talent scout" confused with "genie."

Mom: Today is in the past.
Me: No, mom. It's actually in the present.
Mom: Well, you know what I mean.

Friday, July 15, 2011

"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"-- Revised

When I see someone reading on the subway, I do my best to look at the title of the book. I get especially excited when I find that it's a self-help book. If you're anything like me, and you like to stare and people and then pretend you are having an ocular seizure when they catch you doing it, then you probably find yourself frequently asking the question, "What's wrong with this person?" Well, when you are privileged enough to encounter a person reading a self-help book, you can simply take a look at the title, and your answer is right there. Tonight, I was riding home on the subway, and there was a woman sitting opposite me, reading. Luckily, she was so engrossed in the book, that I was able to openly stare without having to fake a seizure. The book was entitled, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People." Immediately, I became aware that I was in the presence of a terribly ineffective person. The longer I sat near her, the more I could feel her ineffective energy sucking the effectiveness right out of me. In order to explore what this is all about, I decided to research the book, which is written by Stephen R. Covey.

Here is what I found:

Basically, there's a bunch of crap about how you can't be effective if you depend on other people to do shit for you, so you have to cut that out, and start playing nice with others. Pretend to be a team player so you can actually get something accomplished for once.

I don't understand why a book had to be written for people to figure this out. That being said, let's break it down and look at each individual "habit." I will provide my assessment, along with a revised approach to the concept of effectiveness.

Below are Stephen R. Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People"

* Habit 1: Be Proactive
* Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
* Habit 3: Put First Things First
* Habit 4: Think Win/Win
* Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
* Habit 6: Synergize
* Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Apparently, the first three habits are supposed to assist you in moving from dependence to independence.

Habit 1 (Be Proactive) is obvious: get off the couch for once, and go accomplish something.

Habit 2 (Begin with the End in Mind) and Habit 3 (Put First Things First) are rubbish. How can you begin with the end while still putting first things first? Why does "first things first" follow beginning with the end? (Important side-note: if you fail to stay in the moment, you have a greater chance of getting caught).

Moving right along... (By the way, you are now a fully independent person).

Habit 4: We'll just drop this one. It doesn't make sense, so it's basically non-existent.
Habit 5: Irrelevant. Gone. Next--
Habit 6: I like this one. I would just change the way it's presented. In the context of all seven habits, it would look better like this:

* Habit 1: Be Proactive
* Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
* Habit 3: Put First Things First
* Habit 4: Think Win/Win
* Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
* Habit 6: !!!$$$****SYNERGIZE!!!!!!!****$$$!!! YESSSS!!!
* Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Finally, we arrive at Habit 7 (Sharpen the Saw). This is good, but additional habits are needed to prevent incarceration and/or appearing on an episode of "Forensic Files." I have added:

* Habit 8: Wear Latex Gloves
* Habit 9: Burn the Weapon, Don't Bury It
* Habit 10: Hide the Body. Hide it Well.

Below is the revised list. I was going to change the title of the book, too, but I decided against it, not wanting to rearrange every little thing that Mr. Covey came up with. That's just disrespectful.

"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"

* Habit 1: Stop Acting Like an Invalid
* Habit 2: ----
* Habit 3: ----
* Habit 4: ----
* Habit 5: ----
* Habit 6: !!!$$$****SYNERGIZE!!!!!!!****$$$!!! YESSSS!!!
* Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw
* Habit 8: Wear Latex Gloves
* Habit 9: Burn the Weapon, Don't Bury It
* Habit 10: Hide the Body. Hide it Well.

Finally, forget about being a team-player. Do what needs to be done, and do it alone. The last thing you need is a team of witnesses.

Good luck.