Yes, I have recently found TED. And no I don’t mean that stupid teddy bear movie. Okay, so I haven’t so much recently found TED as I’ve recently begun listening to TED talks while playing games on my PC.
For those of you who don’t know TED (ted.com) is a conference where people are invited to show up and talk for anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes over a variety of topics. As far as talks go, some are complete crap, the speaker is a poor presenter and even though they have been talking for 10 minutes you have no idea what they are talking about and am left wondering, “What’s the point of this talk?”, or if they even had a point at all.
Then there are some talks that are so poignant and moving that you stand and start looking around to see if there is anything in the near vicinity that you can use to make your life and the whole world a better place. “Hmm, maybe I could sell all my CDs and DVDs and use the money to help build an orphanage in Africa”, you know, things like that.
So back to gaming with TED, lately I’ll sit down at my computer with a game to unwind for a bit after work. “Okay, Batman, these give there thugs in Arkham City what for.” Then I queue up a few TED talks to play in the back ground, you know for multitasking purposes, and I sit back and begin to wreak vengeance upon escaped convicts in clown makeup.
That is until one of ‘those’ talks come on. Soon I’m clicking less and listening more. Then in mid battle I move away from the action and get to a safe perch so I can tab out and see the image the talker is referring to in their PowerPoint. By the end of the talk I’m closing out of the game, not even caring if I save, because pretending to be a computer generated comic book character really pales in comparison when you were just inspired by the story of some bloke who decided to do a 20 minute swim around the North Pole in a speedo and goggles.
On a plus note, at least I got a Smirk done for February. So, um, thanks TED. And now I’m in a writing mood, Batman can wait; I’ve got a story to work on. Thankfully, my editor hasn’t started cursing at me yet. Although, I might need to avoid TEDing out while working on my book. I don’t need any new characters at this point.
So if you happen to be like me and get a little sidetracked from time to time add TED to your downtime, and see what happens.
Google Images, keywords: Ted talks, Batman Arkham City, writing on computer.
I suppose you could say I started the new year with a bit of a purging, and no not in a “I had too much to drink New Years Eve” kind of way. The first of the year started off with my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh finally managing to pass her cold on to me. I’m not sure why, but whenever I catch a cold, I really don’t start feeling better until I’ve shared it with someone else. The same seems to be true for my wife. Once I caught it, she started feeling great again.
To avoid becoming “that guy” who goes to work sick and sharing his illness with as many people as possible. You know the ones, the walk around with a box of Kleenex always at the ready and for some reason always feel compelled to have a coughing fit right next to a fan; for optimal infection spreading no doubt.
My cold resulted in me staying in bed for the next three day, days I should have been at work . . . or so I thought.
When I arrived at work, I was kindly informed, well as kindly as one could, that I no longer had a position at the company. I wasn’t exactly fired, I just didn’t have a job there anymore. They had restructured a few things while I was enjoying my Holiday vacation and when I got back, the restructuring had deemed my job title extinct.
Out of all the things I was planning on doing when getting back to work that Monday, using my (now former) work computer to apply for unemployment was not one of them.
Was I pissed off that a company I had worked for over seven years had just dismissed my job under the guise of restructuring? No, not really. I seemed like a waste of a lot of energy for something that wouldn’t change anything. In complete honesty my main thought was, “Oh god, I have a mortgage to pay in a few weeks” mixed with a slight desire to vomit.
At least starting the New Year out sick meant that I had a job three days longer than I was supposed to, so who says being sick is always a bad thing. Not to mention, watching reruns of 80’s television shows on Netflix, while supped up on cold medicine, will move you to try to convince someone you respect and love dearly that, “Magnum PI was actually a pretty good show.”
So once home, with renewed health and a resume that hadn’t been touched in seven years, I got to work. I’ll admit, it’s amazing how much one can appear to do for a company when you break things down into single sentences and put them into a bulleted list. I mean, just to name a few, I can document processes, communicate company/procedure updates, create policy, motivate others, address employee concerns, assist in hiring, put together a disaster recovery plan, plan company parties, and quote old movies from the 80’s (which after much deliberation, I opted not put on my resume, but it’s still a very important office skill).
I do have to admit one thing, I’m so glad I used my personal email to sign into Pandora at work instead of using my work email. I have ten stations that have been sculpted and manicured into listening gold. If I would have had to start over, I just might have cried a little. It reminds me that those seven years was not a total waste. Besides, it does make emailing my resume to multiple businesses throughout the week a little more enjoyable, well, that and the Muppet action figure of the Mahna Mahna guy sitting on my desk.
I’d like to say I’ve hit the ground running, but the truth is, there’s been a fair amount of reflection and pondering on what to do next. Not so much job wise, but what I want to accomplish this year for myself. So I’ve been making a list, my list for 2013. It definitely started off new, and different, but not necessarily bad. And I can’t wait to see what happens next.
So here’s to a new year, one that I plan to keep laughing through, and hopefully you’ll come along for the ride.
Google Images, keywords: Welcome to 2013, unemployed, and Mahna Mahna.
With the start of the new month it is once again time to take a closer look about our beloved “Look, pumpkins really do have a purpose!” month, and learn a few things you may not know about our tenth month of the year. The big American holiday this month is Halloween, which I have Smirked about in the past, and totally worth checking out if you have not read it yet (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
As for the rest of the month, here’s what I found out, October is also, but not limited to:
Adopt a Shelter Dog Month – I am allergic to these canine mongrels, so I get a pass for this one, but to those of you that might feel compelled to take part in this celebration, I would highly recommend that you do not do this every year, but only when you are dogless or when you dog could use a pal because all the kids have left for college and no longer has anyone to play with on a regular basis.
Applejack Month – This is AWESOME! I had to look it up, but here’s what I found: “Did you know that Johnny Appleseed was really named John Chapman, and that he sewed his apple seeds throughout colonial Ohio and Indiana primarily for the purpose of providing rural farmers with hard cider and applejack, the most popular intoxicating beverages for country folk back then! The apple harvest and October’s chill have traditionally ushered in cider season, and applejack, a concentrated and higher proof version of hard cider is now an officially recognized part of that tradition. Happy National Applejack Month!”
Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Also know and Pink Ribbon Month, at least it probably is, and if it isn’t, it should be. And I would like to add that if I had a job that required me to wear a tie, I would wear nothing but pink ties all this month. Maybe I can find some pink socks.
Clergy Appreciation Month – Since I am officially clergy (check out my Reverend Smirk) and since I completely appreciate myself, I can definitely get behind this celebration.
National Diabetes Month – My guess is that this is either the month dedicated to making people more aware of diabetes, and sharing tips for how to avoid getting it, or it is the month most likely to give people diabetes thanks to that evening of gluttonous candy consumption . . . actually it’s probably both.
National Vegetarian Month – Why? Because Vegetarians are delicious!
Sarcastic Month – Ohhh, an entire month dedicated to being sarcastic! What a brilliant idea! (/sarcasm off).
When it comes to week long celebrations, October starts off week one two topic of celebration, Get Organized Week and Customer Service Week. I think I’ll get organized this weekend, and by organized I mean I might consider dusting my office. Hey, a tidy office does not mean you are organized, but having no dust on all the crap you have stored on your selves . . . well if that doesn’t scream organized, I’m sure I don’t know what does. Then for customer service bit, I’m considering taking Friday off, that way I won’t have to deal with serving any customers at work. (Note: This Smirk was finished and posted on Friday, and guess what? I’m not at work! Shhhhh.)
Week two is another two-parter with Fire Prevention Week and Pet Peeve Week, which pisses me off, because I hate bears that try to tell me that I’m the only one that can prevent fires. The first time I heard that as a kid, it stressed me out. Talk about a lot of responsibility. I even kept a loaded squirt gun in my pocket for a week, just in case I came across any fires. The problem was it was a cheap squirt gun and was constantly leaking, so for a week I walked around looking like I had wet myself, hence another reason I hate that bear.
Week three is Pastoral Care Week, so I guess for you church going folk to show you care you could always make an extra effort to stay awake during your pastor’s sermon on the 3rd Sunday this month. For you non-church types, I plan on going to get a milk shake made out of pasteurized milk to show Louis that I do care about his gift to the world. Hey, Pasteur was the closest thing to a pastor I could find for the non-religiously inclined, and I think it makes a very good substitute for this week’s celebration.
Week four also has . . . nada. I could find anything for week four. Here, let’s just call it, Buy Candy for Strangers Week, since that is what the main focus for the week usually seems to be.
As for special days in the month of October, I managed to find 60+ different day celebrations. Today happens to be Do Something Nice Day and World Teacher’s Day. Considering I didn’t go to work today and that I’m posting a new Smirk for everyone to read and enjoy, I think I’ve done something nice for everyone today. To embrace this day fully I’d just like to say to Don Barrow, Steven Timothy, Billie Sessions, and Rebecca Clack, thank you for encouraging me to embrace my creativity and introducing me to a world full of art, both literary and visually.
As for the rest of the days, for the sake of avoiding a ridiculously long list, I’ll highlight just a few of my favorites:
October 6 – Mad Hatter Day – In honor of the Alice’s Mad Hatter of Wonderland fame. So, I guess, put on a hat and enjoy some tea with your friends.
October 11 – Take Your Teddy Bear to Work Day – I’m going to dress mine up like me, that way I can take a really long lunch and just place the Teddy in my chair and hopefully no one will notice I’m gone.
October 12 – Moment of Frustration Day – Do you just save up this moment and then embrace your frustration on this day? Because if you are not likely to get frustrated easily, this day is going to go to waste.
October 17 – Wear Something Gaudy Day – Sounds like the perfect day to get my ugly Christmas sweater out of storage.
October 21 – Babbling Day and Count Your Buttons Day – In the event that you run out of things to babble about, you can always chat about counting your buttons.
October 22 – Punk for a Day Day – I wonder if the punks dress like young Republicans on this day to level things out.
October 29 – Hermit Day – This is supposed to be a quite day spent in seclusion, which, let’s face it, if more people celebrated this day correctly, it would be one of the best days ever to go to the movies.
October 31 – Increase Your Psychic Powers Day – The nice thing is that since it is also Halloween, I would love to see the streets filled Star Wars fans walking up to strangers, make a subtle hand waving gesture, and then exclaim, “These are not the droids you’re looking for.” Not sure if that will increase anyone’s psychic powers, but it would be brilliant.
Well, that’s it for my highlight of a few October Holidays, it appears that a number of these days require a bit of dressing up . . . fancy that. I hope you found a smirk getting a little more awareness about this month. Cheers, and a Happy October to you all.
Google Images, keywords: October, Applejack, Smokey Bear, Mat Hatter Day, and Not the droids you’re looking for.
There is a general consensus that our current age of electronic innovations help make the world a better place. I think in most cases they do, but there are always those little tweaks that need to take place along the way, and without those tweaks these innovations don’t always help.
At work they recently renovated the restrooms and installed a whole new row of electronic self-flushing toilets. The simple fact that these exist in the first place is a salute to the laziness of human race. It’s baffling to me that there are some people that view pushing down a handle too much work after they have finished using the restroom facilities. So to help enable these lazy people, someone developed a toilet that flushes for you . . . even when you don’t want it too.
I first time I found myself sitting on one of this new technologically advanced seats, I got a bit more than I expected. I moved from sitting upright to slouching over to take the iconic “thinker” position – flush. I reached out to touch the toilet paper – flush. I sneezed – flush. I threw my hands in the air in a “what the hell” gesture – flush. I was like a flushing announcement to everyone in the room that much more was going on in my stall than was actually going on. I even started holding my breath and holding perfectly still to limit the flush happy sensor.
By the time I finished, that damn toilet had flushed at least nine times in three minutes. I hadn’t wasted that much water since I was 10 and discovered you could lay out long rolled out piece of toilet paper. Then place one end of the paper into the toilet and flush. I’d laugh hysterically as the paper got sucked into the pot, kind of like it was sucking down a giant flat spaghetti noodle. I even got one of our cats chase it a few times. I even got it to almost dive head first in the toilet once trying to catch the paper.
The point being that these things that are supposed to help don’t always do that, and sometimes they can make things a little worse.
A few years ago my sister told me about a friend of hers. They were hanging out at a club one night and her friend when to the restroom to freshen up. Well as her friend leaned forward to look into the mirror to touch up her lipstick her heard a short buzzing noise. She stood upright and looked from side to side. There was nothing, and no one was in the room with her. So she leaned forward again to continue her primping, and sure enough the buzzing noise happens again. She looks around again, still nothing.
This little situation keeps happening for the remainder of the time she’s in the restroom, and finally, after clearing up any smudges and smears that may have occurred as she had been dancing she turned around to leave and there stuck to the wall was the buzzing culprit, an electronic paper towel dispenser. Every time she leaned forward her backside set off the sensor and it would spit out a piece of paper towel. The dispensed towel was all the way to the floor and starting to pile up by the time she turned around.
She rushed out, found my sister, and report to her that, and I quote, “My fat ass kept setting off the paper towels.” She was already concerned about the size of her derriere, and this experience only helped to reinforce the belief that it was much bigger than it actually was, thus aiding in the lowering of her self-esteem.
Now even though my ass has never signaled to a paper towel dispenser that I need a sheet as I bent over the sink to wash my hands, I can see how I might take it a bit personally. And now thanks to that type of experience, technology has aided humanity to create the, “Does this sink make by butt look big?” conversation . . . A conversation I never would have imagined possible.
Google Images, keywords: tweaks, toilet flushing, electronic paper towel dispenser, and does this sink make my butt look big.
As mentioned in a Smirk last month the first weekend of August held the celebration of my 20th High School Reunion. Initially I was concerned that the Facebook might alter the overall experience of seeing people I have not seen in 10 to 20 years. As it turned out, it was a lot of fun and Facebook didn’t mess things up at all.
There were a few people that I would have liked to catch up with but didn’t get around to it, and some that I wasn’t expecting to chat with as much as I did, but was glad we did. Then there were some conversations that came as a complete surprised. Things like “Yeah, I work for NORAD.” or “Did you know I live in your house?”
Turns out one of my old class mates ended up purchasing the house I grew up in when I parents left town. They had done some remodeling over the years and mentioned they discovered a few things in the walls as part of the process. Hammers and screwdrivers were my first two guesses. It only made sense, since the house I grew up in was initially a duplex that was turned into a one level house, when we then turned into a two story house. For all I know one of those hammers was left in the wall by me while we were putting up sheet rock.
Apparently they found one section of a wall that was full or double edged razor blades, the kind that fitted into the razor my dad still uses to this day. Why a wall in our house would be filled with them was a little perplexing though. Thanks to a conversation I had with someone who was just three years older than my dad it turns out that back in the day, it was common practice to have a small slit in the medicine cabinet or the wall of the bathroom where these dangerous razor blades were disposed of. The logic was that kids could get into the trash and hurt themselves, but there was no way of the kids getting into the walls. If I had to guess the wall they opened up was in the remodel was the wall between the old master bedroom and the bathroom before the second floor of the house was build.
The most surprising conversation I had was actually a confession of teenage high jinx that took place at my house one night, which included a wizard, the silhouette of a bunny’s head, and a telephone. Here’s how the conversation went:
“Hey, remember when a group of us were over at your house playing DnD? I came over with ‘so and so’ and we had brought a page that we had ripped out of the back of a Playboy that had a bunch of chat line numbers on it. The game really wasn’t our thing so while you and the others were playing ‘so and so’ and I went into another room and started making a bunch of calls from the ads on the page we had. I was just wondering, did you ever get in trouble for that?”
I just laughed it off and said I didn’t get in any trouble, but . . . okay first off, what compels someone to confess that they called a bunch of sex lines using your home phone one night twenty plus years ago, because they weren’t that interested in pretending to be a wizard? Okay, so maybe I see his motivation, but it’s still an odd conversation starter for someone you haven’t seen in 20 years. I mean does the statute of limitations run out after two decades on something like that, which means you can finally start talking about it?
Secondly, if I didn’t get in trouble for that, so who the hell did? Was there some kind of ‘sex line’ phone bill conspiracy of the late 80s that I was not privy to? Had one of my other brothers taken the blame for this dirty talk high jinx, or perhaps even my old man? This was going to require some investigation.
Well, after two days of investigating the matter, neither my brothers nor my parents remember any sex line related phone bill conversations. This leads me to believe that this guy and his friend were either using 800 numbers and hung up when they asked for credit card information, or mistook me for someone else and there is still some more chap from our high school days that twitches every time he hears the words phone and sex used in the same sentence.
If it was done at my house, I guess I can be thankful that those two didn’t seen my Mom’s purse nearby and decide to use her credit card to help them chat with their “solo” mate. On a plus note thought, at least I get to tell everyone what he confessed to. So, I’d say that about makes us even.
Google Images, keywords: class of 92 reunion, razor blade slots in medicine cabinets, wtf look, and dating chat line.
When you find yourself entering into a long term relationship, you discover that there are certain jobs associated to ones role as male or female. My Smirk on throw pillows is a prime example of this. As the male in the relationship I am in charge of things like taking out the trashcans on garbage day, and bringing them in when I get home that evening.
I’ve also learned that I am the token electronic guru in the relationship. If a new DVD player or sound system needs to be hooked up to the television, it is up to me to do so. I am also the tech support guy. I am in charge of making sure my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie-wifey-pooh’s antivirus software is up to date on her computer and that all her updates are installed. If the internet goes down, I am guaranteed to hear my name echoing throughout the house followed by, “The internet’s not working!”
Then again, she is the laundry leader and is always so good about making sure I have a laundry basket full of my clothes for the upcoming week. The basket usually gets slowly emptied throughout the week, although every once in a great while I do get around to putting my clothes away in my closet. I’ve noticed it’s much harder to find things when I do that though.
She is also the website guru, and it is thanks to her that I have my own website to share with the world. She knows all about the hosting, and name purchasing, and widget and themes installing. She can even help do some HTML coding if needed, which I’ll admit is something I really don’t care to know. She is also the life giver, as in she waters our . . . her plants to ensure their life continues. After her last trip (a three week stay in North Carolina) I picked her up at the airport and first thing she said when she walked through the door was, “It’s so good to be home.” The second thing she said was, “Did you even water these (plants) while I was gone?”
To which I honestly replied, “Oh yeah, we have plants.”
So after 10 years of being together there’s a certain understanding of who does what when it comes to household chores. And yes occasionally there are some things you are in charge of for a week because you lost a bet, but for the most part we know and adhere to our roles, until last week when a new one trickled into our lives by way of a leaky toilet. Apparently it was my job to fix it, which was a bit of a surprise to me.
My logic was that Angela’s dad is a builder; he has built homes for most of his life so it seemed to me that having her ask him what might be wrong would make the most sense. From her perspective, I needed to call my brother, who has been a home owner much longer than we have and has probably dealt with this type of situation before. You can see how we found ourselves at an impasse as to who was in charge of fixing this problem.
The deciding factor happened as a result of Angela pointing out that she had a conference coming up, which she was getting ready for and that if I had enough free time at night to play games on my PC then I had enough free time to fix the toilet, which she was working in her office. Emotionally, this did not feel right in any way and I strongly disagreed, however, logically she did have a pretty sound point to which I conceded. Damn you, logic!
After studying the inner workings of the toilet’s tank for three whole flushes, I shut off the water and emptied the tank. Then I removed a few screws and with the top piece of the part of the tank that seemed to not be working I set off to Lowes to see if I could find a replacement piece, or at the very least get some info on the matter.
Once inside I made my way to the plumbing section and found a guy in a red vest and a name tag, two encouraging signs that he worked there. I told him I was having some trouble with my toilet and he asked me to explain the problem. Here’s what I said:
“The long white piece on the left that has the long stick and the floaty ball on the end doesn’t stop. When I flush the water starts to fill up, but once it gets to the line on the middle white drainy pipe a shhushhhh blub, blub, blub noise happens and the floaty ball holder piece starts bubbling from the bottom as water keeps coming in until it starts draining at the top of the middle drain thing.”
“Well I really don’t know that much about plumbing, but you could try replacing the piece that is bubbling up. I don’t think it that’s right.”
“Umm . . . okay. Thanks.” And I did just that.
Once I got home with a new floaty ball holder piece I started dismantling the old one from inside the toilet. Soon I discovered that part of it unscrewed from the bottom outside of the tank. I check my tool supply and as it happened I had nothing that would fit it, so there was no way to unscrew it. It was after ten at this point so I called the repair job for the night. I told Angela if she needed to bathroom that she had better use one downstairs since the one I was working on was not user friends at its current stage. I left all the pieces of the toilet littered across the floor as a reminder that the toilet was not to be used until I had a chance to work on it again. I then washed my hands four times (since I had been playing in toilet water) and watched some television.
The next day, on my way home from work I picked up a wrench and once I got home finished removing the old piece and installing the new one. “Damn I hope this works” was all I could think of as I sat and watched the tank of refill with water. I had fully drained the tank once and really didn’t want to have to do it again if this didn’t fix the problem. It involved using a sponge and sopping up all the water that didn’t get sucked out when I flushed. Sure, playing in toilet water as a three year old was awesome, but once you are in your thirty’s it does lose all its appeal, and is actually kind of gross.
I squeaked a little in joy when the water level stopped at the designated line on the drain tube. I gave it one flush to test the waters and again it stopped at the designated ‘water stops here’ line with no bubbles and no additional filling. I had fixed our porcelain throne! And you know want? It felt pretty good too. It’s not something I’d ever thought I’d have to do, nor is it something I’d want to make a habit out of doing, but it was satisfying to know that I had gotten something what was misbehaving to function properly. The way I see it, we should all be proud of our accomplishments, no matter how trivial they might seem. You took the time to make things better, and to that I say well done.
Google Images, keywords: battle of the sexes, dead houseplants, looking inside toilet tank, and kid playing in toilet.