I, Too, Must Apologize For Eating at Chick-Fil-A

It was Tuesday, around 1 pm. I had a morning networking meeting and then I worked at the library for a couple of hours. And I had a call scheduled for 2 pm, so I didn’t want to get distracted and miss it. How unprofessional would that be?

So, I walked over to the Chick-Fil-A next to the library. Not a bad walk. Yeah, it was hot, but not unbearable for the 2 minutes I was outside. Actually, I rather liked it. Got me a bit of a sweat which then felt great when I opened the door and re-entered modernity.

I stood at the counter and contemplated my options. Sandwich? Tenders? Nuggets? And then it hit me:

Cool Wrap.

Like, duh, could I have done anything different? The Ranch Cool Wraps are, in my memory, like the second-best thing ever made for fast food. #1 was Wendy’s pitas from the late 90’s, but since those have gone the way of the Dodo, I console myself with the fresh, multi-faceted goodness combination that is a Chick-Fil-A wrap.

“Cool Ranch combo, please”. Aww, yeah, deliciousness hitting my mouth soon.

I grab my drink and by the time I’m ready to sit at a booth, there’s a smiling, “My pleasure”-spouting employee with my tray. Score! I slide in, sip a bit of root beer, sample a few waffle fries, and then dig in, unwrapping one half of the log so I don’t accidentally-on-purpose ingest some wax paper.

I’ve ordered the Avocado Lime dressing. Not a bad choice. It adds some nuanced flavors to the creaminess, and as I dip I get the full effect: wheat wrap, lettuce, carrots, chicken, dressing. Not a bad way to spend a half-hour, if I do say so myself.

All too soon, though, I’m finished with the first half. Huh? That’s it? I wonder if, by some chance, my wrap was mis-cut, leading me to pick up the substantially smaller portion first. But, no, I look at the other and it’s just as paltry.

What the hell happened? It used to be that a Cool Ranch wrap was a full serving. Now it looks like it’s been cut down to 80% of its former size. Like Jim Carrey in Me, Myself, and Irene, you appreciate it for what it used to be, but these days it’s just not delivering like it’s supposed to.

So, I finished my wrap, waffle fries, and drink, gathered my trash, and left, my still-not-full stomach unsatisfied. And for that, I apologize.

I’m sorry, belly. I got your hopes up. I did not realize that the situation around me had changed so dramatically since the last time I partook of what used to be a delicious luncheon session. I won’t make the same mistake again. Next time – Waffle House.

Extremely Bad Advice – He Ain’t No Fortunate Son

Dear SJ:

My son is 34 years old. Recently he quit his job and moved in with his girlfriend. Now, I’m not certain, but I think they do a lot of drugs. Pot at least. There are a lot of pictures of them on Facebook with these dopey smiles and their eyes are half-closed. I’m not a prudish, naïve mom. I got drunk and smoked a few times in college. I recognize that there are people who have a legitimate need for release from the stress of life.

But if he’s not working, what kind of stress might he have? I think they’re getting by on her trust fund payouts – grandpa was loaded. So if it’s not about needing to work for money, and they don’t have any kids making them want to pull their hair out, what’s the deal? And how do I go about getting him on the right track? That trust fund won’t last forever, and when it’s gone they’re going to have no career, no prospects, and no way to pass a drug test. Which means they’ll probably want to move back in with me. And I absolutely REFUSE to take care of children again in my sixties. What should I do? – DISAPPOINTED BY DARREN

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Well, what do you know? Something I’m familiar with. No, not the pot-headed loser or his equally worthless girlfriend. But the feeling of failure on your part when your children don’t measure up to your standards.

I get it. I’ve been there. Can you imagine my shame when my daughter almost brought home a B last semester in World History? And my son struck out thrice in last week’s double-header. If that isn’t enough for me to want to save the world from my seed by a couple of selective late-late-term abortions, I don’t know what is.

So I can sympathize with wanting better out of your progeny, because, like any self-serving modern American, you’ve completely abandoned the notion that people’s decisions reflect their own choices in life. Instead, you’ve bought into the perspective that if your kid screws up, it looks bad ON YOU.

Let’s be honest. You don’t give a flip about whether or not you’re going to have to support them if they move back in. You would in a heartbeat, because he is your son, after all. You’re really worried about your image if that happens – and rightly so. All the rest of us would judge you mercilessly behind your back while putting on a sympathetic mask when agreeing to your face that “sometimes they just need a little help.” And rightly so.

Therefore, what you need to do is to convince your son of the error of his ways. He’s over 30, so it really is time for him to grow up. But since he’s acting like a juvenile again, arguments and logic won’t work. They didn’t the first time around, why would they now? This time, you need to show him what it would be like in a few years if everyone pretended to be young and dumb and did young and dumb things.

And what are the things most young and dumb kids like to do most of all? Yep – pot and sex.

Now, since pot is mostly illegal, I’m not going to advise you to do that. You could live in one of the 40-plus states which haven’t gotten their acts together just yet. But sex? That’s all right, all right, all right in every jurisdiction.

I’m telling you, there’s quite a fetish industry for Grandma Porn. GILFs really are a thing. Google it and you’ll have at least half a dozen sites where you can submit your own amateur video. [If you need a partner, there’s this really cool new site called CraigsList Casual Encounters, check it out.] After you’ve made the cut, send your son a link with the subject line “You Want To Be Young And Stupid? So Do I”, and no other text. He’ll get the message.

While you’re at it, send that link over to me. I need a little more fodder for the spank bank 😉

Stuff I Just Want To Write Down – 6/4/2018 version

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed a trend. I seem to be getting a lot of hits on my review of Mocelli watches. This is pretty cool! When I look at the stats I see that starting about April there was a big jump in the # of daily views. Many of them that watch review, but many others as well. Come for the scam, stay for the story! my grandmother used to say.

No, she didn’t. I made that up.

She did say, though, “If someone says a bad word, just don’t hear it.”

And she said, when she was talking about how to make bread, that you grab the flour can under one arm, and sugar can under the other, and when you’re measuring, you “take one hump of this, and two humps of that,” and she would kind of shrug her shoulder and pretend to be shaking the flour or sugar into the bowl. I never understood whether it was two parts sugar to one part flour, or the other way around.

I was going to tell the story of how I saw my grandmother’s breasts once, but I decided I don’t really remember what happened. It could have been just in her bra. Not sure. So I don’t want to go back to those repressed memories.

Not sure where this is going. I started out on watches, and now I’m onto incest. Ew, gross.

In more interesting news, my 15-year-old daughter told me tonight she isn’t entirely convinced that Earth is a sphere. She thinks there’s a non-zero chance that the flat-Earthers are right. I smacked her upside the head and said, “Don’t believe stupid stuff.” She tried to defend against the smacks by holding up her cat. So I flicked her on the forehead instead.

This whole post has been uncurated. I’ve just sort of let myself write things down and see what comes out. This is not Writing Practice (I already did that) and it’s not a pointed Personal Expression, where I have something important to say. It’s just my thoughts on today.

I know, pretty low-quality stuff right here.

THE END

P.S. I started reading Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It’s pretty powerful stuff. I’m rethinking my “angry white boy doesn’t give two shits about the world around him” stance.

P.P.S. I checked the stats. Turns out my Mocelli watches review has 109 views so far in June. The Home Page / Archives has just 9. Apparently I’ve done something right to get that page into some kind of preference for Google searches. May was just as lopsided – something like 230 views for Mocelli, and like 45 for the next most popular page. So I got that going for me.

Writing Practice – 6/1/2018

Pen is running dry…

I like to watch the progress of the ink level in the barrel as I go along. Slow and steady it is, but it keeps going. The more I write, the less I have left to go until it’s all gone. Like footsteps, paradoxically, the more I write, the more evidence there is that I was here. The more pen on the page, means less pen ink in the tube.

I wonder if the people who made this pen thought about how it would be used. For grocery lists or for calculus homework. For taking notes in a quarterly divisional meeting at a large multi-national corporation, or for making doodles on the side of a notepad while waiting for the doctor.

The possibilities inside this pen are endless. There are whole worlds, whole universes, to be set free. Inside this plastic cylinder are dragons and demons and fairies and magic. Inside are robots and hyper drives and a new ansible and a Crucible. Inside are epic poems and haikus. Inside is a resignation letter from the President, alongside and mingling with the phone number scrawled on the back of my hand at that bar last week.

These things are all in there. They’re all potentials. misspellings and transgressions, sleights of hands and phurns of trase. Malapropism. Aproprisms. Run-on sentences. Adverbs. The month of September, and how it smells like sheep ready for shearing, how it feels like the ground is turning its own nose up at the change of seasons. Inside is a butterfly, dancing merrily on the edge of my shoulder, its delicate leg somehow caught in the uneven weave of my shirt, fluttering and flapping to try and escape, yet still entwined with me, so that I have time to take out my camera and snap a selfie, two, three, four, five, before I watch if finally leave, and take off and leave me wanting more once again.

It is a desert, and Antarctica, and Pluto, and Polaris, and protons, and Protease, and protein, and prescriptions and purses and pennywhistles and Pennywise, all in one. It is the large infinitely large and the small infinitely small together – mashed, waiting, uncertain as to whether it will manifest on the paper as power or pusillanimousness. The possibilities are infinite, a regular [unclear] Pen of the word, an infinite universe of quantum potentialities which do not coalesce condense collapse into one until I set pen to paper and become, in this world, the almighty.

Non-review of books

Here’s a few books I’ve read recently that I’m not going to review.

The 37th Parallel: The Secret Truth Behind America’s UFO Highway, by Ben Mezrich. Interesting, but in order to make a point it has to ignore a lot that doesn’t fit with the theme of the book.

Lord of Light, by Roger Zelazny. Read this one so I could participate in a book discussion group. I liked it, but apparently I missed one of the major points in the narrative when it was either implied or directly stated that what was coming next was flashback.

Aesop’s Illustrated Fables, Barnes & Noble edition. I liked it. I could see a lot of parallels to other morality tales. Just flipping through right now, I find “The Farmer and His Sons”, which is almost perfectly preserved in Jesus’s teaching (700 years later) of the gardener who had a dream that there was treasure buried beneath a tree. I liked reading the whole tale from which we often just distill the lesson. Plus I was intrigued to see Aesop break the 4th wall when he told stories about the slave Aesop.

The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin. This won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the National Book Award when it was published in 1974. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s the passage of time and seeing a fair amount of sci-fi since this was published, but I don’t really get why this would have been so spectacularly received.

Writers of the Future, Volume 34, edited by David Farland. I read this and WotF Vol 33 this spring, to get a better feel for the stories that win the contest, as this is a writing contest I try to enter every quarter. I’ve had Honorable Mentions and one Semi-Finalist. I’d still like to win, as long as I’m eligible. I’ll take being not eligible, because I’ve been published, too.

I think there’s more, but I don’t remember. I used to keep a list of books I’ve read. I haven’t maintained that this year. Unfortunately.

 

P.S. Edited to add – I remembered one!

Adventure Cats: Living Nine Lives to the Fullest, by Laura Moss. Gave me things to think about as I try to train my cat to come with me camping, hiking, and bicycling.

Writing Practice 5/22/2018

My cat just threw up on my bedroom floor…

I don’t need to see the evidence. I’ve heard the telltale echoes far too many times to pretend not to know what’s going on. It’s always the same – bastard comes in from a day of being outside and chows down too fast that it upsets his prissy little stomach. Then it takes about 10 minutes of upset, and his body begins the rejection sequence. It starts with vocalizations – Hyurk – Hyurk – Hyurk, that sound eerily similar to us Homo sapiens when we are wrong-waying our undesirables out of our stomach, too. The pulsating rhythms accelerate: HyurkHyurkHyurkHyurk – and then comes the money shot – a longer, drawn-out note, like at the climax of a good minuet – Hyuuuuuuuurrrk! And then a splatter, as if Slimer just materialized on my floor.

I know if I go over there and look I’ll find a pile, mostly dry, of pellet-like substance. Mostly dry because the pellets have absorbed some of the stomach acids, but not so much that they start disintegrating, so they’ll still have most of their shape. Based on the juiciness of the splat, too, I know there will be a moderate amount of liquid associated, sliding down the whole grain-meat-and-vegetable-infused mountain in slow rivulets, pooling gracefully on the floor. I often give such a performance a few minutes to congeal slightly in the air, evaporating off just a bit of that excess moisture, before I clean it up. I find this is a much more appealing option, as the times when I have rushed immediately tot scene, like a Bounty paper towel commercial, I simply end up pushing the mess around more often than I do wipe it up on the first try.

So, congratulations, cat, you just made my night. You gave me something unique to write about – how to describe vomit in an interesting, appealing mind-image way. I wouldn’t expect any less of you.

This Is Terrible Writing. Not This Post Itself, But This Article I’m Writing About … You Know What I Mean

Yesterday I was browsing around the web and clicked on one of my bookmarks. It’s an article from Metro, titled “The 11 Essential Documentaries of 2017.” Now, I haven’t seen any of these. I haven’t even read the article fully. But at some point, earlier this year, I saw that headline and probably thought, You know what? I should watch more documentaries, rather than Hollywood big-budget experiences leaving me empty inside afterwards. Maybe I’ll come back to this someday. [Click] – bookmarked.

So, here it is, the end of May, and I clicked back on that to see what I was supposed to remind myself of. Scanned it. Eh, probably some stuff I’ll eventually watch. Then I scrolled down a bit, to see what other things Metro has to offer. Fluff articles like “The Best NBA Basketball Players of All Time” and “If You Pay For Amazon Prime – Here’s How To Make It Even Better”. Not my thing, but not doing any harm either.

Then I saw one that might actually be something of interest.

Who is Dimitrious Pagourtzis, the Santa Fe Texas school shooter?

Now, being a father of a high school student, and three more to come in future years, this is an area of interest to me. What do we know about this kid? It’s been a couple of days. In the same amount of time after Parkland in February we were embroiled in a nationwide argument that, somehow, has been rather absent in this case. So, I wanted to know a little more about the young man. Might there be insights I could take away to use in discussions with my daughter? Might there be suggestions for how to watch for tendencies in my own kids (or their friends) that would indicate we need to intervene before they do something stupid?

Here’s a link if you wish to read the article for yourself. It won’t take long, it’s only 24 sentences, 418 words. Metro: Who is Demetrious Pagourtzis?

I won’t repeat it here. I will just make my commentary that this is in the top 3 worst pieces of writing I’ve ever seen.

Now, there are no typos here. No grammatical errors. No factual fallacies. No unjustified speculation. Taken all together, that might seem a fairly weak case for “top 3 worst pieces of writing I’ve ever seen”.

My reasons are as follows. First, Metro did absolutely nothing to create this story. They simply regurgitated facts from the Associated Press and a USA Today story. They did no investigation, no interviews, sent no representative to a press conference, or anything similar that should be expected of a journalistic enterprise. This piece was clearly written simply to have something to address the issue of the moment, to keep up with the overwhelming tidal wave of attention-grabbing that apparently passes for “news” these days. Disgusting.

Second, for a story entitled “Who is Demetrious Pagourtzis?”, I would have expected background. I would have expected an interview with his friends or classmates. Perhaps a talk with his parents, if they could be found, or a statement that such parents were not willing to talk with Metro. I’m pretty sure I’m not far off here.

However, of the article’s 24 sentences, only 6 deal with personality, background, interests, potential motive, and the like. They read as follows:

Pagourtzis was a high school football player at Santa Fe High School, USA Today reported. He played defensive tackle on the junior varsity football team. Pagourtzis was also a dancer with a local Greek Orthodox church group, according to the report.

However, Pagourtzis’s online persona wasn’t nearly as wholesome as his extracurricular activities. Social media accounts, which have since been removed, reportedly showed Pagourtzis’ fascination with firearms, a knife and a custom-made T-shirt that had the words “Born to Kill” written on it. One photo allegedly showed a coat that depicted a Nazi insignia, USA Today reported.

Two facts: football player and dancer with the Greek Orthodox church group. The other elements there are speculation, based on “alleged” social media accounts.

Everything else in this article is about the facts of the day: where he was when arrested, the suspicion of an accomplice, Donald Trump’s Twitter response, quotes from other students in the high school. These do nothing to bring to light who Pagourtzis was or why he might have done this. Not a whole lot I, or any other parent or concerned community member, can go on in creating meaningful conversations around the issue. In fact, it is completely useless to me or to anyone else reading it. [Other than as fodder for this rant, obviously.]

Finally, my last problem with this article: At the end it says “Reuters contributed to this report.” I can only imagine that’s pure bullshit. If Reuters, an international news agency with a high-class reputation, knew that their name was on this filth, they’d likely sue for defamation.

It was a waste of Metro‘s time to create this article (they probably paid some content freelancer like $8 to pump out this in under an hour), and a waste of my time to read it. But, apparently there’s some kind of market for such things, for Metro is still going strong, with enough worldwide market share that they keep up appearances. According to them, “Metro is published in more than 100 major cities across Europe, North & South America and Asia . Metro has a unique global reach — attracting a young, active, well-educated Metropolitan audience of more than 18 million daily readers.”

So who’s worse? The audience who pretends to demand such imbecilic pablum in order to soothe their own infantile attention span just one more minute, or the money-grubbing marketers and internet bandwidth prostitutes who profit from their naivete and simplicity every step of the way? I can’t tell.