Friday, May 24, 2013

The Decline and Fall of James

I see some interesting things in my part-time spy gig. Tonight, I'm trying to be stealthy when I hear someone over the loudspeaker:

"James, to the office, please. James to the office."

I think nothing of it and go back to my espionage. A few minutes go by. Then, the loudspeaker lives up to its name.



Seconds later, someone wearing a sour-puss look on his face and a name tag that reads "JAMES" trudges inside and heads for the office. I wait for awhile. He never resurfaces.

You see a lot of things as a spy -- like retail executions.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

On Being Dubious

The Wikipedia article for the obscure dinosaur Pterospondylus begins thusly:

"Pterospondylus (meaning "winged vertebra") is a dubious genus of theropod dinosaur from the Late Triassic."

I understand what they mean by dubious -- i.e., it's known from such poor, sketchy material that it can't be defintively proven to be a valid type of dinosaur. Still, as someone who himself has been called "dubious" in the past, I think it's a lousy word to describe a fossil. Which led to this conversation between myself and my friend Linsey:


 me: i think it's a little presumptive and disrespectful to call a dinosaur who's been dead for 216 million years dubious
how does wikipedia know?
did wikipedia lend pterospondylus money and then get stiffed?
did they see pterospondylus at a seedy bar?
Sent at 9:09 PM on Tuesday
Linsey: oh man that's true
what do they know about pterospondylus?
as a soul
he could have been a beautiful soul
me: it's bullshit man
Linsey: TOTAL bullshit
i don't like their crap
THEY are the dubious ones
me: I KNOW
Sent at 9:12 PM on Tuesday

me: maybe pterospondylus just fell on hard times
Sent at 9:14 PM on Tuesday
Linsey: yeah, they're so quick to judge a man
whose claws they have not clawed in
me: i hope wikipedia has learned a valuable lesson from this
never assume
There ya go Wikipedia. Linsey and Pterospondylus just showed you. Maybe next time you won't be so quick to judge.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Menial Labor

The assignment: Walk 8 minutes to the nearest mailbox, dump two letters in the chute, go back home. Bills paid, some degree of exercise attained.

Then there was the walk home. Suddenly I hear "Yoohoo?!"

I turn to see an elderly woman waving me over to her. My first instinct, as it is with most strangers who try to approach me, is: "Walk away. Who knows what this cold lead to?" This is how violent scenes in spy novels and movies like Ironman3 start. Then I notice that she looks like a stiff breeze could knock her over. Maybe it's a good risk.

She asks me to fold up a rug that is too big and heavy for her and put it in the back seat of her car. I really don't want to do this. But there's no legitimate excuse for me: I have nowhere to be for a few hours, it's a nice day and she clearly can't do this by herself. To say no would be to be a jerk.

So I do it. Then she points to another rug. And another. And another. Pretty soon I've moved four rugs into her back seat, four more into her garage, and thrown one welcome mat in the trash. It's been 10 minutes -- certainly not an eternity by any stretch, but it's more than I bargained for, and at some point I'd like to eat lunch.

Finally after all that, she asks: "Would you like something for that?"


"Just a minute." She walks inside, and emerges a couple of minutes later with $1. "Go buy yourself a can of soda with this."

For 10 minutes of work, at Massachusetts minimum wage ($8/hr.), I really shouldn't accept less than $1.33 for this. Also, a can of soda at most places (with $0.05 deposit attached) is $1.04, so I would still need the pennies. But whatevs. This was my good deed for the day. And I made it home alive.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Electoral/Musical College

It's come to this. There's an article in Time that suggests Justin Timberlake would top a list of musicians in a presidential preference, according to polling data. He beats out Justin Bieber 34%-8%.

Here's what I think:

* While theoretically possible, 34% is such a low plurality that I highly doubt it would be enough to carry the 270 electoral votes necessary to be elected president. So I suspect the election would be thrown into the House of Representatives, and who knows how those shady characters would vote.

* At 32, Justin Timberlake is constitutionally ineligible to be president (though, to be fair, he will have reached the minimum presidential age of 35 by the next election in 2016).

* Justin Bieber is permanently barred from holding the office of U.S. President, having been born in London, Ontario (though the Constitution could always be amended).

* Personally, given a choice of musicians, I'd vote for Beyonce for president.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

EZPass History

There are many crappy things about living in Fitchburg (hills, lots of shady characters, I could go on), But one nice things about it is that it's a straight shot to Boston on Route 2 -- thus I can avoid the Mass Pike.

Still, I didn't realize how well I've avoided the Mass Pike until I got my EZPass statement emailed to me. The last time I was on the Pike was last September. That's one car ago. That's two jobs ago.

In fact, I was trying to remember what I was doing on the Pike that day. I think I was coming back a friend's house in Connecticut, watching the first Patriots game of last season.

Hopefully I can keep the streak going. Any time you can avoid a toll road, you take advantage of it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Smile, Boston

Last week I was doing some work for the part-time job where I pretend I'm a spy. In the process of cleaning up, I noticed there were still a couple of these, which have been on since the holidays last year and which I had to remove:

This seemed poignant, given the events of last month. So I'm scanning it in here. We all could use a smile these days.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Goals 2013: An Update On My Progress Since I Set My Goals 24 Hours Ago

Yesterday's blog seems to have struck a chord with people. Some were excited to hear me vowing to get back to work on my novel. Some were pleased to hear me putting my goals out there for accountability.

Others had a different reaction, something along the lines of:

"ANOTHER goals blog? Yes! YES!!! JUST what I wanted to read! Oh, please, PLEASE update me on your progress AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE! Because I CAN'T WAIT TO READ ABOUT IT!!!"

I somehow suspect that species of comment was lobbed with a heaping pile of sarcasm. But for what it's worth:

* Buy a table and a comfortable chair: NOT SUCCESSFUL. Since last night's blog I've spend 90% of my time either sleeping or working. I just haven't had the time to look for a table and chair yet. Seriously folks, it's been less than 24 hours. Cut me some slack.

* Eat broccoli at least twice a week: DONE, AT LEAST FOR ONE WEEK. I've eaten three times since last night, and on two of those occasions my main course was augmented with a side of broccoli. Granted, there's about 30 more weeks left in the year and so I have to be consistent. But take that, bitches.

* Get back to the gym: NOT SUCCESSFUL. I'm thinking of joining a new gym. But I need to go there, fill out a membership form, etc. etc. So, no success yet, but I'm confident this will get done by month's end.

* Pay off two credit cards: NOT SUCCESSFUL. Neither of the two credit cards I have designs on paying off has its bill due today. I could say screw it and pay one off today, but then I'd be eating ramen noodles for the rest of the month and wouldn't be able to make my scheduled payment for the other bill (as well as some other bills). So that seems counterproductive.

* FINISH MY NOVEL: NOT SUCCESSFUL; however, I did write three sentences in it tonight. If my novel was three sentences away from being publisher-ready, then I'd be done now. It's not, unfortunately. But it's a start.

So there it is. Be careful what you wish for, or you may get another update tomorrow night.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Goals 2013

I probably should've written this blog four months ago, but the year started a little crazy for me and I had to put the blog down for a little while.

Alas, the year's a good one-third of the way done now. Still, I need some goals to aspire to as I move through 2013.

* Buy a table and a comfortable chair: When I moved last October, I had to get rid of mine. I'm a little overdue. I can't underestimate how important comfort is, at least to me. I need to do some shopping around, but this will be an important decision for me.

* Eat broccoli at least twice a week: True to my contrarian nature, I have different thoughts on vegetables. Here's how a typical conversation goes with me and a vegetable-lover:

Vegetable Lover: "Here, have some [insert vegetable here]."
Me: "No thanks, I hate vegetables."
Vegetable Lover: "How can you hate vegetables? They're good for you. I love all vegetables except broccoli."
Me: "Actually, broccoli's about the only vegetable I like."
Vegetable Lover: "Yuk! How can you like broccoli?"

I used to eat tons of broccoli, actually. But after my life got a little crazy I sort of forgot about broccoli. I need to get back into it.

* Get back to the gym: This dovetails into the above. It's time to get healthier.

* Pay off two credit cards: I have four, and paying off all four is unrealistic. But two, while still maybe a bit of a reach, is something to strive for.

And last, but far from least:

* FINISH MY NOVEL: Another thing that time constraints has prevented me from working on nearly as much as I would like. I have a first draft done, but it needs work. I would like to spend the next eight months really putting some polish on this.

So that's it. For what it's worth. I'll be back in December to talk about how miserably I failed at achieving these goals.