Archive for March, 2018

Earn Social Bucks

I applaud China’s decision to implement the idea of not only rating social credit, but also punishing social transgressors and the socially awkward and rewarding the socially attractive. It’s about time that crimes such as accruing debt or hanging out with someone of a lower social status is punishable. How many times I’ve thought that someone who blocks a footpath with their bike or who issues an insincere apology should be added to a blacklist.

Once they’re on this list, they can be dealt with via appropriate recourse, which could be travel restrictions or, we can only hope, being completely socially outcast.

If there’s one thing social interactions and faux pas need, it’s more bureaucracy and legal punishment.

I’m pretty socially perfect. I fit in with snowflakes and rednecks. One of the cooks where I used to work said I had Street Cred because I drank Olde E. People always say things to me like: “You rock!” I break very few social rules, almost to a pathological degree. I always know what to say. I am a delight at a funeral! I am also super good looking but humble enough to know not to call attention to it; I am hyper aware of blocking people’s paths with things, mostly because I’m terrified of coming into contact with strangers’ calves or elbows. I don’t own a bike, and I have very little debt, which is one of the positive byproducts of having very little money. (That’s 5-18ths of a demerit. Hm)

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Life Headlines

We are all the heroes of our own story. And in our fantasies, news headlines reveal just that about us. Man Saves Family from Fire; Penguin Publishes Manuscript Found in Garbage, Becomes Instant Classic; Man, Though not Classically Attractive, Rated on Personality and Immediately Named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year and Sexiest Man Alive.

In our faceless way, we rock! And we want the world to know it.

But if there’s one horrifying reality, it’s that we are mostly mundane little creatures. And while our oddities, day to day struggles, and epiphanies mean a great deal to us, they wouldn’t amount to much when headlined on the New York Times.

Man Sends Colleague Irritated Text in Meeting that could have been (short) Email

Man Horrified to Learn that his Cat Posts aren’t Seen as Ironic by Bulk of Friends

Man Constantly Worries about Accidentally Sending Dick Pic to Entire Contacts List

Man Flays Boss in Mock Argument in Shower

Man Constantly Thanks Deity he Doesn’t Believe in that Nobody can Read his Mind

Man Occasionally Mentions Passing Interest in Birds to Make Himself More Sophisticated

Man Breathes Deeply when Burrito Loco is out of Wraps: Pretends Zen Attitude, but Really Afraid of Ending up in Viral Video

Man Thinks Joking about Practicing Casual Conversation Makes it Less Insane

Man Almost Loses Eye after Biting Cat’s Tail

Man Goes Berserk in Toilet after Boss Asks about Email she’d Sent Twenty Minutes Before

Man Realizes he Doesn’t Hate Taylor Swift after Hearing One of her Songs

Study Shows Man Understands Significance of Cultural Sayings Seven Years after Significant: True Story

Man Hums to Warn Urinators that He’s Pooping in Stall

Man Dreams of Bludgeoning Czech Clerk to Death with her Own Stamp

Man, 43, Stunned that Airplane Lifts off

Incensed Man Writes Blog after Realizing he only Gets about Thirty Facebook Friends in Feed: Facebook Does Not React

Man Suffers Nervous Breakdown after Students Refuse to use Target Language

Man Disillusioned after Mark Hamill Doesn’t Send him a Birthday Tweet

November 8th: Man Shaves Mustache after Nobody Realizes he’s Being Ironic

Man Feels Satisfied after Doing Laundry and Food Shopping on one Saturday; Will Reward Self with Reading and Maybe a Beer Later

What would be your life’s headlines?

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Evolution of a Cook

I cooked spaghetti and meatballs for a friend on Saturday. I never feel more like my grandmom than when I am adding pinches of salt to tomato sauce that I made from scratch. Or when I am kneading balls of meat and spices. Of course, the apron helps.

I am never going to appear on a television show for my cooking skills. Or for any reason, I guess. (well, not unless those Queer Eye gents ever respond to my emails.) But for the last five or so years I have developed my cooking skills so that I can not only state that I am a competent cook, but I can mean it.

But it has been a long road.

Like many of those who were raised by my mother, I didn’t grow up learning to cook. There was no need; my mom spoiled us. She cooked every day (sometimes after working eight to ten hours). At times, she relied on quick and easy standards to quell the voluble hunger pangs of the four kids and the dentist banging their forks on her kitchen table. There was mac and cheese, hotdogs, grilled cheese, and tomato soup. But more often than not, there was homemade pasta dishes, meatloaf, vegetables, or potatoes.

Besides occasionally reheating dinner or putting meat in between two pieces of bread, I didn’t raise a finger to feed myself from the age of 0:001 to17.8.

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Necessary Classroom Hardware

Like many teachers, I would like to address a recent proposal to add a particular piece of hardware to the classroom. It’s useful and, once loaded, does all manners of good if it’s in the right hands. I have spent my entire pedagogical career wishing and hoping that a social movement would carry us to this pivotal development. Teachers everywhere are ready for this implementation to their classroom arsenal.

People, it is time to give working staplers to every teacher. The benefits and advantages of having a working stapler in the classroom are unmatched. They keep things in line, they’re there in an emergency, and an entire office’s paper joining needs can be dealt with by one good guy with a working stapler.

That all said, I have never had a working stapler. Well, they work for an hour or two and then mystically jam. One of my colleagues says he wrote a paper on a middle school in Guam which had a working stapler that lasted for years without botching one staple attempt. But I don’t believe it. I’ll see Saint Francis’ likeness in a burrito before I see a permanent working stapler.

You know how school bureaucracy is, and bringing staplers into things just stirred up the maelstrom. We brought it up at the meeting and asked for a working stapler. (And by we, I mean I. A meeting made up of Czechs and Brits means that none of the Czechs will ever complain and if the British guy does, nobody who’s not British realizes they’re actually complaining, and instead think he’s just complimenting the cheese platter. So they always leave it to the bloody American, who’s too dull for nuance.)

Upon the request, the department head informed us that he was not a miracle worker. “What would we want next,” he asked, “livable wages?!” We all laughed at that one for a good while. Tears. Our disappointment was slightly ameliorated by the promise of a better printer to replace the printer we then had, which worked fine. As for the working stapler, he suggested that we get some of those plastic folios, because there wasn’t any money in the budget for a working stapler, or, as it turned out, those plastic folios. If we wanted a working stapler, we’d have to bring our own from home.

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Neighborly Support

Czech neighborliness and American neighborliness are radically different entities. Americans involve themselves in their neighbors’ lives from the get go. They are openly friendly, nosy, and welcome with brownies. Czech neighbors prefer to keep to themselves and, after a year or so of seeing the same face, will show their neighborliness by saying dobrý den mostly without a frown.

I don’t talk to them much, but I see them. The first floor guy watches people come and go through a slit in his curtains; the third floor woman gardens at midnight; the couple across the hall do epic Friday afternoon shops evident of weekend parties that I never hear. Though I have never seen their flat, my cat has been over for dinner several times. (She typically dines on the red rose platter, which she then pukes onto my living room floor).

Living in close proximity makes you unwittingly closer to people. I have overheard the couple who lives on the other side of my kitchen wall argue or chitchat over breakfast for eleven years. When it’s an argument, spoons clang angrily against milkless bowls, and cupboard doors don’t exactly slam, but are closed with intent. When I hear an argument, I open my curtains that face their window and encourage the cat to play on the sill, because there’s nothing that cheers up people more than a frolicking cat, especially one they don’t have to deal with in person.

The old woman downstairs has expressed her dissatisfaction with my use of feet to move around the flat. She spent a lot of time banging a broom against her ceiling, which doubles as my floor. I suppose she’d prefer I use a zipline system and a harness. She complained once, which wouldn’t have bothered me so much if it hadn’t come the day after she’d enlisted me to bring out some bags and boxes of trash for her.

Conspicuously, a few weeks later I took up a program of high intensity interval training that requires movement, stepping, and jumping, as well as protohuman shrieking, grunting, and crying into my living room floor. I have been exercising as such five or six times a week for the last four years, not in any real interest to keep fit, but in order to drive her insane. She has not hit my floor (her ceiling) in over a year.

These days, it is mostly the upstairs neighbors that I am aware of on a daily basis. Unlike my across the hall neighbors, I have been in the upstairs neighbors’ flat. One day the B Monster actually succeeded in one of her (literally daily) attempts to escape my flat. When I started chasing her up the steps, we both realized that the upstairs neighbors’ door was ajar. Naturally, trying to escape me, she went in and I had to engage them in horrified Czech as they asked me to get my cat out of their house. Though my blood pressure had risen to the point that my vision was blurry, I do remember a lot of boxes. And a table, and I only remember this because I had to crawl under it to get the B Monster, who’d resigned to capture and was even wearing a face that said I’m sorry, Dad, I didn’t think it would get this far.

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Play Ball!

February 14th was the day Phillies pitchers and catchers reported for spring training this year. It should be a national holiday. Valentine’s Day can go fuck itself, people should buy cards and candies celebrating the fact that baseball season is around the corner.

Pitchers and catchers is start of the holiday season.

To the non-sports fan, the outside observer, a baseball game is just a football game that doesn’t stop every eight seconds for a commercial. Just another three hour period during which the fan in their lives looks at a TV and drinks beer and yells profanities. But to anyone who celebrates both, baseball is a whole different experience. It’s played at night. There’s no clock. It’s slower and longer. It’s filled with contemplation, discussion, humor. The drama builds and sometimes the excitement comes out of nowhere. The coaches aren’t complete assholes (I know. I know). And there’s no John Madden. Violence and injuries are unusual.

Baseball season is just as different. It’s played during the spring and the summer, when the days are longer and the mood is more optimistic and warm. The games often start in daylight and end in the wee hours. The season is a marathon, it’s long and it’s played almost every day of the week. A day without a Phillies game leaves you scrambling for another game. Fortunately, there’s always a game to watch somewhere.

Baseball evokes a whole set of images, sensations, and memories. The snap of the first pitch hitting the catcher’s mitt. Starting with a one-two-three inning. Realizing in the fourth inning that the opposition hasn’t had a hit yet, and knowing that everyone else in the room knows it too. And eternal damnation to anyone who brings it up. Baseball is a game filled with stories and anecdotes. Names like Dutch, Chase, and Schmitty. Brad Lidge on his knees on the mound. Rose assisting Boone near the first base dugout. Watching a day game during a barbecue, eating too many hotdogs and drinking a freezing cold beer. Sitting in the living room watching a night game in June or July, the crickets and chatter of summer outside the window. Catching highlights in the morning over a bowl of cereal. A scrub player stroking a double down the line and forgiving him all of his previous transgressions. Baseball is the closest I come to prayer.

In any event. Play ball!

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