Friday, September 28, 2007

A Brief List of Things People Need to Stop Saying at Work

1. "I'm a Choco-holic"

So you like chocolate. So what. We all do. Big deal.

Humanity has spoken on the chocolate issue. The chocolate die has been cast, and it came up "Delicious", and then someone ate the chocolate die, because it was made of that delicious, delicious chocolate.*

And you know what else? No you aren't. You are not a "Choco-holic". You are not addicted to chocolate the way an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol.

Has the Godiva rep in the mall ever "cut you off"? Did a group of your family and friends hold an intervention where they talked about how your Kit-Kat eating has affected them? Have you ever had a panic attack when you realized there was no more Hershey's Special Dark?

Well then that's not really the same thing, is it?

2. "Jim? Oh, hey, you're not Jim!"

I'm using "Jim" as an example, you understand. The name could be any name. My point is that people need to stop telling other people who they are not.

If you aren't familiar with this phenomenon, just go sit in Jim's office. Within twenty minutes someone will come in looking for Jim and say "Hey, you're not Jim", grinning stupidly like they just made the funniest joke in the world.

And then you'll have a choice. You could grin stupidly back and say, "No, I'm not Jim, least-not-the-last-time-I-checked!"

But in that moment of validating the unfunny comment, part of you will be gone forever. Within a week you'll be a "War at Home" viewer, an "American Idol" voter, and you will be lost.

Or you could do what I do, and pick from one of the three following responses:

b. "Jim was mauled by a cougar, you insensitive jerk! I'm here cleaning out his desk."
c. "Turns out that no one is Jim. There is no Jim and there never was. It was all a lie . . . " (Then refuse to elaborate.)

3. "It sure is cold/hot/rainy/foggy outside, huh?"

Yeah I know that. I know because I had to walk though it to get here too, and thank you for reminding me what a miserable day it is.

Why did you even say that? You aren't informing me. You aren't providing me with valuable information. You are stating as a question something that everyone here knows. What satisfaction do you get from saying obvious things and having other people nod their heads, huh? Explain it to me.

There are books you know. Lots of them. You could just read one and talk about that.

*Even though I know better, I almost always spell this word as "choclate". I think my brain sounds it out the way Sloth says it in "The Goonies", "Choc-LATE".

Friday, September 21, 2007

Go L-Block!

I wonder who you are.

Do you play video games? Do you have a friend that does? Have you read Joystiq or Penny Arcade? Maybe you just bought an Xbox one day at Target.

I have only this one thing, this single tiny view into your life, and it gives me these questions with no answers.

So who are you really, guy that only has 3 points in the Gamefaqs Character Battle Contest?

I want you to know, first of all, that I'm not making fun of you. Being able to guess who the readers will vote for each day . . . it's not something to brag about. My score this year will never appear on my resume, or even my facebook profile. The Character Battle Contest just a fun little game that some of us geeks like to play once a year and your score says nothing about you as a person. But I'm just curious, how did you find yourself at a website about video games, enter a contest about video game characters, and wind up with a score that would lose to a blindfolded dart toss?

You've had 18 rounds, friend. Eight-teen. Each worth up to four points.

And you have 3.

Who are you, and what are you doing?

I mean even if you'd picked Mario and Link to win their battles, and we're talking about Mario and Link, two of the most well known characters ever, the hall-of-famers that get called out of retirement every season to show the rookies how it's done, even then you'd have FOUR points.

But you have 3.

Are you doing this on purpose? Is this a joke to you? Were you sitting at your computer eighteen days ago, chuckling as you picked Princess Peach over Sephiroth, as though the might of a character who walked through fire with a six foot katana, the terror of a man who called down the destruction of a planet, the numbness of the evil bastard who killed Aeris and gave an entire generation of gamers their first experience with death and loss*, as though that character could be overruled somehow by an obscure veto clause in the bylaws of the Mushroom KINGDOM!

Are you someone's cat?

Did you crawl up there on the keyboard, look from your owner to the bracket form, the bracket form to your owner, back and forth until he understood? Did the two of you work out a system of meows for each of your choices? Did he try to talk you out of picking Toad to beat Ryu? Did you meow back defiantly?

Who are you Mr. 3-point guy? And what else do you vote in?

*Especially loss of materia, I had her equipped with some good stuff when that happened!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Kinda like Nerf I guess.

I want there to be stuff.

It's not that I want stuff for myself, or that I want more stuff to exist. I want there to be a substance that is . . . stuff, because right now the word has almost no meaning.

A quick rundown of ways the word "stuff" is used.

"Are you ready to move?' 'I'm working on it now, I've got way too much stuff!"
"The waiter brought that stuff you ordered"
"Hey, everybody has their stuff, in a relationship you've just got to work through it."
"Yeah, well, stuff happens."
"Your stuff's in a box by the door, goodbye."*

I guess the meanings break down into three basic categories.

1. The Substantial - "Stuff" can mean physical substances or conglomerates of the things you own. This is my favorite meaning of the word, because every time someone says "I'm packing up my stuff" or "I've got to go get some stuff", I immediately get a mental image of this orange, foam material that can't be described any other way. When you go to a housewarming party and see those last few boxes marked "kitchen stuff" and "bathroom stuff", that's what's in them. In a few days the new home owners are going to open those boxes, pull out hundreds of little orange pieces and say "Where are we going to put all this STUFF?"

2. The Eventful - "Stuff" can also mean events that happen ("I can't believe all that stuff went down over the weekend") and tasks that you've got to perform ("Tuesday? No I can't, I need to do some stuff for work.") This meaning is a little weird. Calling your possessions "stuff" makes sense, because the word comes from "stuffing", like the physical stuffing in a pillow. Of course, I guess even that meaning is strange since you'd think that "my stuff" implies "that which gets crammed into me".

But calling events "stuff" isn't nearly as odd as . . .

3. The Emotional - Yes, even a person's crippling emotional baggage can be quickly and easily referred to as "stuff"!

"That dude has a lot of stuff to work out with his parents."

"He's still dealing with his breakup stuff."

Somehow it seems a little cold to call serious personal issues by the same term that means "the assorted items in my hallway closet" and "the hour I'm going to spend making a presentation for my boss", but then I suppose this meaning is more subtle. Emotional "stuff" is "don't ask stuff". It's a euphemism, really. That guy? He's got some stuff. Leave that stuff alone, that is HIS stuff.

And I guess that's the running theme of these definitions, they're all possessive. I don't know what "stuff" is, but I know there's your stuff and there's my stuff, and it's completely different stuff.

*I meant these examples to be random, but when you read them in order like that . . . well, it's quite a little narrative!

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Sound of Your Own Wheels

Do you know what a sabot is? It's ok if you don't, I wouldn't know except that Jamie used one in the episode of the Mythbusters where he built a tortilla-shooting machine.

What is a sabot?

Let's say that I have a small object, like a golf ball, and I try to shoot it out of something large, like a cannon . . . which would probably be pretty cool. But it wouldn't work very well. A canon is built to fire balls that fill the barrel, using gunpowder as a sort of ultimate Draino to clear the blockage. Since my golf ball wouldn't come close to filling the cannon, it would miss out on most of the blast and drop pitifully short. To make the golf ball go further I'd need a sabot.

A sabot is a carrier, it would go around my golf ball but also fill the barrel. When the cannon fired, my sabot would take the full force of the blast, zipping down the cannon while taking the golf ball along for the ride. Then, and this is the most important part, the sabot would fall away. A sabot comes in multiple pieces, so once mine was free of the barrel, it would break apart to let the golf ball keep going.

And that, in a nutshell, is what a sabot does . . . although if you cracked it first, I guess a nutshell could BE a sabot.


I realized today that "The Eagles" are a sabot.

If you're not familiar with The Eagles, tune your radio to a classic rock station, then wait twenty minutes. If there aren't any classic rock stations in your area, why not start your own? It's easy. You can run a successful classic rock station with only five songs!

Hotel California by The Eagles
Simple Kind of Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits
American Woman by Guess Who
Hotel California by The Eagles (you need a second copy for when you wear the first one out)

See, a lot of people I know went through a period in their lives where they liked "The Eagles", even thought they were the "greatest band of all time." But then somewhere along the way, all these people stopped listening to their Eagles albums as they experienced more diverse, interesting, an unique music. And that's fine. But then somewhere else along the way, these people also collectively turned back and said "**** The Eagles!". Suddenly they thought "The Eagles" were terrible, and wondered why they ever loved the live version of "Take It Easy" where they changed the lyrics to say "southern California" so everyone would cheer.*

I think this is wrong, and it's unfair. It's not that "The Eagles" are bad, and in fact you should be grateful for them. Your sixteen-year-old self wasn't ready to hear the artists that you listen to now. At that time, you didn't have the aural or life experience to appreciate diverse, interesting, and unique music. You were a golf ball in a cannon, with the force of musical appreciation going right over you. Something had to get you through that period, let you enjoy music and become interested in it without demanding much from you.

"The Eagles" were your sabot. And when you moved past that place, "The Eagles" fell away.

*And you are a liar if you say you didn't.