There are so many intelligent and articulate people covering the hard-hitting
issues in our country these days, that I felt it was my duty to cover the
rather inconsequential bullshit that tends to make up the vast majority of
our lives. Actually, I'll just be griping a lot which, if you weren't aware,
doubles as a synonym for complaining, and as a descriptor for
a sharp pain in the bowels.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Don't Dine, Just Dash

Today I stopped in at the Vernon Diner in Vernon, CT on my way back to Jersey and had a less than stellar experience. As a native of Jersey, home of the diner, I've got fairly extensive diner meals to use for comparative purposes. My first sign that things might go awry should have been that I was in Connecticut. I'm just going to go out and say that I've met seemingly a disproportionate number of inconsiderate jerks in my time there. But the true first sign was that I stood in front of the "Please Wait To Be Seated" sign for a minute or so before someone acknowledged my presence. This wouldn't be so bad if three employees hadn't been sitting right at the bar counter.

After being seated at a table without silverware and not being brought any water for close to ten minutes, a host flagged down a waitress for us who took our order. All would have been well except that twenty-five minutes passed. All we ordered was two sandwiches, egg salad, and grilled chicken. Now, again, perhaps if the place were exceedingly crowded I'd understand, but it was moderately populated at best. At that point, though hungry, we decided it was time to hit the road because we still had three hours of driving to go. The thing I have to wonder is if they ever came out with our order, or if they ever even noticed. Glad to be ignored. Haaapppy holidays ya bums.

Anyway, I was just browsing Alaska Airlines website in preparation for a flight and I noticed the following awesome notes. My favorites are in bold:

The following items may count as your "one" carry-on bag and may exceed the carry-on dimensions as long as they can be safely accommodated in a proper stowage compartment in the cabin of the aircraft.

* Art/Advertising portfolios
* Paintings
* Delicate scientific equipment
* Fishing poles
* Human organs

All items brought onboard count toward your carry-on limit except the following:

* Coats, hats, umbrellas
* Reasonable amount of reading material
* FAA approved child/infant restraint seats to be occupied by a child
* Stroller
* Mobility assistive devices (e.g. wheelchairs, canes and crutches)
* Medical supplies and small medical equipment (e.g. CPAP machine for sleep apnea). Visit Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions on the TSA website for more information on allowed medical items and screening procedures.
* Small musical instruments (e.g. violin, flute, clarinet, or a small guitar) provided they are of a size or shape that can be safely stowed in an overhead bin or closet. Any musical instrument (e.g. oversized or odd-shaped) that cannot be properly stowed, must be checked or travel as cabin seat baggage.
* Ashes in an Urn. Ashes must be in a sealed, leak-proof container that fits in an overhead compartment. For information about TSA screening requirements, visit the Transporting the Deceased section of the TSA website.

It's not so much that people would never be transporting human organs or ashes in my estimation, I'm just surprised that it comes up frequently enough to make the standard list of regulations. But shit, I've got some packing to do. I hope everyone had an excellent holiday and has a wonderful new year. Boooyaaaaahhh...

Monday, December 22, 2008

NJ Trans[h]it

Frequently I talk trash about NJ Transit on here. It's true that I find it frustrating at times, but is it really worth complaining about? If my biggest gripe is late trains and rude passengers, I'd say I have things pretty good. That said, I have to say that it's been smelling like a hot dump on the train pretty frequently of late. I found amidst many notebooks and notepads that I scribble nonsense on a scrawl detailing that, last Monday, not just the train, but all of Penn Station had a distinctly fecal odor about it.

Aside from the Penn Station experience, I have to wonder if it is really just someone in my train car periodically dropping a deathbomb of a fart, as opposed to an ingrained doodieous scent, as the smell never seems to linger too long after my entering the car. Either that or I'm guilty of olfactory fatigue/adjustment after sitting in its presence too long.

On a non poop-scented train ride last Thursday night, I had a bit of a strange experience that probably isn't really that strange but allow me to explain. I got on an 8:35pm Jersey-bound train, seating myself next to a woman in her 40s or perhaps 50s. An announcement for all the intended stops of the train was made, which included my own, Edison. Shortly thereafter, a passenger seated just behind us could be heard conversing with a conductor to purchase a ticket to Edison, which he obligingly sold. The conductor then came to where myself and this lady were seated. After we flashed our respective month passes, this woman proceeds to inform me, having looked at my pass evidently, that "this train doesn't stop at Edison." I thanked her for her concern but assured her that it did in fact stop there. She refused to believe me and I left it at that. Shortly thereafter, another announcement was made, again detailing the arranged stops, and again listing Edison among them. I was a little tempted to say, "see you dumb bitch," and perhaps enlighten her to some other context clues that would have informed her I was on the correct train but, seeing as how she really hadn't been mean about it there wasn't any point.

I did ponder mightily for a minute or two, however, why she would even point this out. You might think, "well she was just doing you a favor," except that, if I were on the wrong train, wouldn't the conductor have mentioned something (in my past experience when i have witnessed people on the wrong train, the conductor has mentioned it to the passenger)? Wouldn't he also not have sold a ticket to that very stop to another passenger. Also, doesn't she have ears? Couldn't she hear them announce my stop. She certainly had eyes though, as she had to read my ticket to know where I was going as I mentioned. So maybe she missed all these initial signs. I hope she heard that second announcement, however, and realized she was a retard.

Hooooot pockets...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Just Whistle [On Your Way to] Work

As I was walking to work today (yes, I've noted it before, but I'll note it again, an inordinate amount of my content concerns my commute) I was listening as usual to some iPod jams. A tune came on that either contained whistling, or that I deemed whistle-worthy, as soon I found myself whistling. This was surprising because it was gloomy and I would rather have stayed at home and, on a more pressing note, I had a fairly strong urge to defecate. Now defecate is an ugly word in my estimation, I think "crap," "shit," "dump," "deuce," and "poo" as well as presumably many others all strike me as less vulgar. Anyway, there I was whistling when I noticed another whistle joining me. Now, I guess this isn't that unusual, except that I realized I couldn't remember the last time I heard anyone whistling as I traversed the streets of NYC. And I'll be damned if it wasn't suspicious that this guy started whistling when I did. I further noted that he was whistling a similar, if not the same tune to me. In fact, it seemed as if perhaps he was performing an echo or time delay of my own whistle. It was kind of like Joe Satriani vs Coldplay except that I didn't write the original tune I was whistling and there aren't millions of dollars involved and, okay, not really a lot of similarities, except somebody copying someone else and that someone else not knowing but wondering if it was intentional.

The rest of this post was going to be about poop, but I think I've decided to cut it here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Karate Whirled

This past weekend I attended my first ever karate function of any type: blackbelt testing. In this instance I am going to speak in vagaries to protect the innocent (and the guilty), but the festivities were interesting enough that I felt they couldn’t go without comment.

In my limited knowledge of it, karate is about memorizing a series of forms, and your ability to recall and execute them properly is what determines whether you successfully ascend the ranks and achieve the corresponding colored belts. Once you have risen to blackbelt status, you can then advance in degree, each degree now based on your strength along with your ability to execute the moves.

The students at this particular venue were of varying ages and background, from probably nine or ten years old, all the way up to fifty-five. Because a lot of family and friends turn out to watch their “student” test, the Master judged that it should be spectator friendly. This not only included choreographed groups of students performing various forms in unison, but the addition of a ridiculous soundtrack as well. As I had never attended a class at this school, I can’t say whether the music is standard practice, but one look at the Master, sort of a conglomeration of Fabio, He-man, and the Incredible Hulk – complete with ludicrous hairpiece – seemed to confirm that it was.

The choice soundtrack included:
Ozzy Osbourne “Crazy Train”
Drowning Pool “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor”
Disturbed “Down With the Sickness”
Metallica “Enter Sandman”
Survivor “Eye of the Tiger”

When blackbelts and diplomas were handed out:
Star Wars theme, on loop.

While it could be considered admirable and impressive for those more advanced in years to be participating, a couple of these adults downright scared the shit out of me. One woman in particular who broke down and said, “I left ______ for two years, and it was the dumbest decision I ever made.” Another guy, part of a father-son duo, made a long speech documenting all the good the school had done for him and his son. I am all for sentimentality, but a lot of this was so contrived that the cynic in me was having a hard time. Even when people get emotional, it can be hard to be original, and that shined through. Mostly the first lady I mentioned could have used a good shot of thorazine. If I saw her on the street, I would be frightened, and not because she is a blackbelt.

I doubt I really painted an adequate picture of the scene, but I’m cutting coverage there. The last little snippet I want to share was something I observed on my run last Sunday (November 30th). I was running down Commonwealth Ave in the direction of downtown Boston when I happened upon a man running in faded navy/grey Dockers (colors are not my strong point), a pair of large gloves, and that’s it! Now, I frequently under-dress for the weather, especially when running. It was probably about 30°F out there and I was wearing shorts, but I was also moving at a goodish clip, which facilitates maintaining bodily warmth. But here is this guy, who I would estimate as late 50s or 60s, and he’s slogging along in no shirt. The Dockers and gigantic gloves really added to the scene I promise. To his credit, his back was absolutely ripped, and also purple and red in splotches. I am wondering if this guy is a Boston regular; I feel he must be. There’s even a chance I’ve seen him in the past, but it could just be that he looked reminiscent of a couple of crazy old drunk guys I’ve seen out dancing at bars over the years. The one I witnessed in a New York City bar looked oddly similar to a Brattleboro, VT regular. I’m really hoping they’re just all the same guy and he just manages to appear in my life at random moments and locations.

Damn, I'm sleepy.
Thanks for stopping by…you stay classy Planet Earth.