Friday, May 28, 2010

Most People Won't Understand This Reference

I'm working on a day when there's not many other people working in my building. Everyone was allowed to load up on hours in the first half of the week so they could have a four-day Memorial Day weekend. But I got approved for 10 hours of overtime, and I couldn't squeeze it all into four weekdays. So I'm in a building with 6 floors and I'm pretty sure I'm the only one here. There was no security guard, no elevator traffic, and all the lights are off. It's really weird.

I don't know if anybody ever saw the movie, The Langoliers. But I feel like I'm in that movie. The air seems stale in here. And there's not a sound or a movement anywhere. (And Bronson Pinchot is yelling at no one and I think he might stab a blind girl.)

Anyway, I'm freaking myself out now. If I hear an ominous crunching noise in the distance, I'm getting out of here.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

If You Don't Know Me By Now

You know what's really embarrassing? When you remember someone from high school or camp or something like that and you're excited to see them, but they don't have a clue who you are (even when you give them your name). They were important enough in some aspect of your life that you would actually say hello, but they think so little of you that they have eliminated your existence in their memory. And that's one of the many reasons I avoid everyone I've ever known unless we've spoken in the past year. It's like a self-induced isolation. I'd rather be safe than sorry. Because I've been burned too many times by that, "Taylor who? I'm sorry, I just don't remember you."

I would hope that no one has such a bad opinion of me that they do this on purpose, but I can't rule it out. And I always seem to jump to that conclusion. They say, "I'm having trouble remembering how I know you," and I think, "Okay, so that's how it's gonna be. Fine. I don't know you either, jerk." And my favorite websites do it too. I go to login to my gmail account and it asks me if I want it to remember me. Uh, yeah I do. I thought we were friends, Google! Why do I have to remind you to remember me? Google should know it's me. We've been gmailing and blogging and searching for years! That really hurts, Google. Don't act like we're not close. I'm sorry if I embarrass you, but you should be proud of who your friends are, dude. Not cool, man. Not cool.

Although I must admit, it's really fun to pretend you know someone that you don't know. Strangers are so gullible. They'll go from 100% convinced they've never seen you before in their life to politely running through different places they might have met you to fitting you into some fuzzy memory to avoid hurting your feelings. Those are nice people.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Sometimes I get those sneezes that piggy-back onto other sneezes. The first one takes it's time, so the second one gets impatient and rushes out the door with the first. And I sound like a complete moron. Instead of a single "Achoo!" it sounds more like "Ah-ah-ah-CHUH-CHOO!" So it's like the second sneeze is interrupting the first one. And people look at me like I'm a little insane. ("Does he stutter when he sneezes? Is that considered a sneeze impediment?")

And nothing makes me feel more foolish than feeling a sneeze coming on and being unable to finish it. I scrunch my face, inhale repeatedly and then after leaving my mouth open for what seems like 10 minutes, nothing happens. It feels like I'm hyperventilating. And there's no satisfaction. It's like scratching the spot next to an itch. Very frustrating.

Last week, I had a second sneeze that beat the first one out. I know that sounds stupid and crazy, but it happened. I was preparing for the first sneeze and felt it coming and the second one just shot out in mid-inhale. Then the first one came out at the regular time. So it was like this: "Ah... ah...SHCHXQCSHOO!... ah... ah-CHOO!" (I think I got the spelling right.) And my brain short-circuited. I couldn't remember my name for a second or two and I think I might have time-traveled a little. I hope that never happens again.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

"Macchiato" Sounds Like A Crime Family

I love coffee. Not like those yuppies at Starbucks who have to say 16 adjectives before spitting out some Italian word that means "coffee drink." I really just like the caffeine in coffee. That's what I'm addicted to.

Okay, wait. My posture is atrocious. As I'm typing this, I'm slouched so far down that I'm almost forced to look over my wrists. I'm practically sitting on the ground. This is ridiculous. By the time I'm an old man, I'll look like I'm standing on the back my own neck. But every time I try to work on it, I end up back in the slouched position within a few minutes.

Okay, let me try something new. I'm now sitting straight up, shoulders square, feet directly below my knees. And I already feel like I'm dying. Why does it hurt my abs? And I'm getting a crick in my neck. I think I'm blacking out.... Okay, I can't do this. Back to normal. The back of my head is against the chair now. That feels better.

What was I saying?... Oh yeah, I'm glad I'm addicted to caffeine. Other addictions are scary. My addiction is completely cost-free (thanks employer!) and has minimal side effects (side effects of coffee may include: frequent potty breaks, mild to moderate pretentiousness, and in rare cases... blogging). And the best part is that nobody's ever been taken aside to talk about their potential caffeine addiction. ("It's just a little coffee to take the edge off. I can quit anytime I want to!") A&E doesn't air episodes of Intervention about caffeine. Although that would be an awesome SNL spoof now that I think about it. They could have the family waiting when the "addict" comes in with a Starbucks travel mug ("You have to leave that outside, Stan.") And then the recovery center they're sent to could be called Wake Up and Smell the Sunrise or something to that effect. Yeah, I'd like to see that. I'm gonna call Lorne Michaels.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Too Busy To Blog, Just Some Thoughts

I'm glad my company doesn't have a CSI department. Because they would totally have a donut powder residue kit, and I'd totally be busted.

I burned my tongue on the first sip of coffee. Now every subsequent sip tastes like what I think molten asphalt would taste like.

The guy who sits across from me using a particular cologne that doesn't really match his natural smell (or "body chemistry" as I've heard it called). The result is that he smells kinda like gasoline.

When I say "I'm awesome," my son is now trained to say, "No you're not dude, don't lie." And it's okay, because he has no idea what he's saying.

I say the phrase "I'm awesome" way too much.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thanks A Lot, English!

I'm not entirely sure I chose the right degree plan for myself. And since it took me six years to get out of college and it's been three years since I finished, I realize it's a little late to rethink it. But I've noticed lately the effect an English degree can have on a person. And it ain't pretty. Stuff that would go unnoticed to the average person, spits in the proverbial face of an English major. And what's worse is that I can't even help it. I think that every university secretly injects its English students with pretentiousness and arrogance when they're sleeping during Technical Writing 101 (horribly boring class). We have this innate false sense of grammatical superiority that we have to fend off.

A good example of this is my use of a little program called Microsoft Word. I sometimes boil with hatred and rage at this program, with its little passive-aggressive green squiggly underlining. (No, I don't want to use "which" instead of "that." You don't understand the context, you insolent, ill-informed, know-it-all program!) Then I have to count to 10 and take a deep breath, so I can realize the truth (there is no spoon)... that a program cannot be intuitive enough to understand every specific context for my word choices. And then I get embarrassed at myself for being so stupidly upset with a word-processing program.

But it doesn't end there. Probably the worst product of so many English classes is my awareness (and inevitable over-analyzing) of symbolism. Because I spent so many hours making up stuff about literature, I can't help but see it in the real world. In college, I could proclaim that a writer's motivation for a certain plot twist was to symbolize the fragility of life in 1920s America. And although I made it up on the spot, I could find a few examples to support it and write a paper on it. Then I'd get my B and move on. But doing that so many times can really skew your perceptions.

Last week, my son broke a model car that was mine when I was a kid. It was just a cheap metal model of a 1996 Dodge Viper with racing stripes (a.k.a. my dream car when I was 13). And I observed how appropriate it was that the representation of my financial success (the car) was destroyed by the main hindrance to my becoming rich (my kid). The rich symbolism of such a simple moment. Then I realized how stupid that was and superglued the steering wheel back onto the toy. Why couldn't I just study History?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Top Ten Reasons I Like Working At An Engineering Firm Even Though I'm An English Major

10. I am by far the most athletic person here.

9. In a sea of men wearing short-sleeved dress shirts with pens in their pockets, my polo shirt island is awesome.

8. I am by far the coolest person here.

7. Robot jokes are cool again.

6. I am given very specific directions for my job, down to the tiniest detail. That makes it pretty hard to mess anything up.

5. No stupid people. (Okay, just a few stupid people.)

4. I post one Dilbert comic on my cubicle wall, and I've immediately made 246 friends.

3. I finally understand why my father is the way he is.

2. Blogging is the least dorky thing being done right now in my building.

1. If we lose power, the clock on the microwave is reset within minutes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

At A Loss

There are times in my life that I'm just overloaded with information. There are just too many things being thrown at me for me to comprehend. And like a computer, I freeze up. This happened the first time I looked at the menu at The Cheesecake Factory and almost every time I go to Starbucks. I get so overwhelmed with words and thoughts that I shut down.

And sometimes this happens because someone has said something that is both extremely complicated and extremely stupid. So my responses run into each other in my head and get clogged on their way out. Like when someone tries to explain to me that WWE wrestling is real and Spencer Pratt is a relevant human being. My brain overloads and I don't know what to say.

Well, yesterday my son gave me one of those moments. He didn't say anything stupid, but it was definitely complicated. He told my wife and me that he had a friend named "Cigarette" who stole his hair and poked him in the eye. But Andrew was able to get the flag, so he won. And I had no idea how to respond. I opened my mouth, then closed it, then opened it again, then closed it again. I looked like a trout in slow motion. Then I turned to my wife and said, "I got nothin'."

I mean really... how do you respond to a sentence like that from a 3 year old? I can't say, "What have you been smoking?" That would be wildly inappropriate (and he wouldn't get the joke anyway). And I can't ask him where he heard it because, let's be honest... that's the first time anyone has ever said that. So we just said something about him being silly and then we moved on. But if he ever meets a kid named "Cigarette," I will not allow them to be friends. Half because Andrew predicted that his new friend would steal his hair and half because no one should ever have a friend named "Cigarette" outside of prison.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Hug Is Worth A Thousand Words... And Ten Bucks

A new preacher joined our church a few years ago, and he seemed like a pretty nice guy. He wasn't funny-looking, he didn't have a weird laugh, and he had a normal name ("Jeff"). So naturally, I messed with him on his first day. (You can't mess with the weird ones. They can be dangerous.) So I told my older brother, who hadn't met Jeff yet, that I knew a way he could earn an easy ten dollars. And since this particular older brother will do more than most people for even one dollar, he agreed before I even explained what he had to do. So I told him that when he introduced himself to Jeff, he had to brush aside the handshake that was offered and go in for a full bear-hug embrace for at least 5 seconds.

So my brother walked up as if to introduce himself, looked at Jeff's outstretched hand with utter contempt, and pulled him into the most uncomfortable-looking hug I've ever seen. ("Brothers don't shake hands! Brothers gotta hug!") And the look on Jeff's face was awesome. It was obvious he was wondering, "Is this guy just weird? Or is he mentally unstable? Well, either way I don't want to offend him." So he didn't push his way out of it or anything. He just placed his surprised face on my brother's shoulder and waited patiently for the introduction hug to end. And maybe I imagined it, but I think my brother threw in a bonus "I'm-smelling-your-hair-right-now-you-sexy-beast" inhale right at the end.

And then my brother just walked away without a word. No introduction. No explanation. Best ten bucks I've ever spent.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Whenever I play the game "Would You Rather?" I always think I do really well. I think through it logically, and I always have a good reason for my choice. And if you'd asked me if I'd rather sprain my ankle and be on crutches for five weeks or jam my right index finger so bad that I'd think it's broken for 7 days, I would have made the obvious choice. I'd much rather jam my finger than be unable to walk under my own power for a month.

And now that I've jammed my finger as described above, I can honestly say I'd rather lose the ability to walk for a while. Because once the sprain is done hurting, you just have to stay off of it and you're done. Just a little inconvenience and that's it. But I work with a computer for every part of my job. So everything I do involves typing or clicking a mouse. Which means my stupid finger hurts every 4 seconds. And I keep forgetting it's hurt. So I'll double-click and then wince. Then I'll type in a number and wince some more.

And I want to write more in this post, but it hurts. So I quit.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

All In A Day's Work

I sent my department manager some pictures of my adorable children. I'm not really friends with her. In fact, I barely know her. But I figured it can't hurt to have them staring down at her from her office wall when she has to decide who to lay off next month.

And I'm doing all I can to stay employed. I'm keeping my head down and working hard. I'm using shortcuts and tricks on my PC to do work for me. And most importantly, I'm not sharing those shortcuts or tricks with anyone else. That way, I am consistently on a quicker pace than everyone else by comparison. And that's a big gold star on my performance record at work.

Because (cue big booming voice) IN THIS ECONOMY, I can't afford just to be average. And I'm not going to leave it to eeny, meeny, miney fired. So I'll continue doing what I can to make sure they see me as an efficient, no-nonsense worker. Which means this blog post is taking too long. Back to work!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Who's On First

One of my older brothers has made messing with people an art form. He doesn't even have to plan ahead anymore. He just goes for it. Here's an example I witnessed the other day that involved my older brother and a coworker:

Brother: "Okay, I'm going to say some texting abbreviations and you tell me what they mean.... B-R-B."
Coworker: "That's Be Right Back."
Brother: "Okay, B-T-W."
Coworker: "By The Way."
Brother: "I-D-K."
Coworker: "I Don't Know."
Brother: "Ha! Stumped you!"
Coworker: "No. I. Don't. Know."
Brother: "I know. I stumped you."
Coworker: "No! I-D-K. I Don't Know."
Brother: "Well look it up and tell me what it means, then."

One person ended up impossibly frustrated. The other ended up super-proud of himself for setting such an easy trap. The coworker is an idiot, so I don't really feel any pity in this instance. But I am proud of my brother for pulling that one off.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

This Post Is Medium Length

There's a difference between a dirty room and a messy room. I'm a messy person. So my desk is disorganized and full of junk I don't use and don't need. But I hate cleaning it. My bedrooms during college and before that were the same way. But I'm not a dirty person. I don't leave stuff around that will rot, disintegrate, spoil, or stain. If you see a cup or mug at my desk, you can rest assured that there is nothing nasty in it. A messy person can still be a very clean, well-groomed person. And their house may have unfolded laundry on a dining table, but it's clean laundry and their house doesn't smell like death.

See, I don't eat food in my room. I don't eat food in bed. I don't even eat in the hallway. (I would not, could not, in the hallway.) I've never been comfortable with having food outside of the kitchen, living room, or dining room. Those are my comfort zones. I don't venture beyond their borders unless I have good reason to do so. So I mentioned this to someone last week. I bragged about how clean we keep our bedroom because we've only ever eaten in their on two or three occasions, and only for good reason.

So last night my wife suggested we eat in our room while we watch a few shows we missed last week while we were out of town. As I've mentioned before, we don't have a DVR (yes, Jenny, I'd love to take your TiVo off your hands - I forgot to respond last time you offered). So we have to watch stuff on the internet if we miss it. So against my better judgment and against every instinct I have, we sat in bed and ate dinner. And as karma would have it, my daughter stepped directly into my steaming bowl of casserole and burned her foot. Then I burned my hand when I hastily grabbed the food off of her foot. Then I made a mess as I bolted to the bathroom to rinse her foot with cool water (not Cool Water... that stuff is expensive).

That'll teach me to go against everything I believe. See what happens when you compromise? So from now on, we're not going to eat in our room. It's just too risky.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Little Too Quiet

With my sister getting married this past weekend, I expected to have a ton of "older brother" stories to share. My family getting together in large groups usually lends itself to embarrassing moments and bad decisions. But throughout the entire weekend, I couldn't find a single moment that stood out as a moment-ruiner. We had a few close calls, but nothing strikingly stupid or robustly ridiculous. One of my older brothers prepared a bride-specific limerick for the occasion. But when he asked if he could read it, my sister answered with a simple, "No." And he obliged. Which, to be honest, was out of character for him. And when the officiant asked, "Who gives this woman?" my father responded without a British accent and without any silly antics. So that was surprising.

In fact, the only thing that happened that I would normally share here was my son showing everyone his outstanding (genetically-inherited) dance moves. I don't have a copy of the video yet, but it will be on YouTube as soon as I do. He was busting moves left and right. I think if any of the guests knew his name, they would have been chanting it. He even got in a dance-off with the groom. They each attempted to copy the other's moves. Then my son decided to literally dance circles around him. That's when he won. It was adorable and awesome.

So, no embarrassing moments to ruin my sister's big day. No rain, no crisis, no problems at all. And only one casualty*. Overall, a very good wedding weekend.

*The flowergirl, my daughter, fell and busted her lip 30 seconds before the ceremony. So she finished her duties with a fat lip and a blood-stained dress. My joke of the night was, "You should see the other baby."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tightening The Belt

A few years ago I bought two suits. They were on sale as buy one, get one free promotion. So I decided to get one of them that fit me at the time and buy the other intentionally smaller because I planned on losing weight. And as it turned out, that was a brilliant plan. I started out with one suit that fit and one that was too small. Then I lost a good amount of weight. Now I have one suit that fits and one that's too big. And that's a good feeling. Of course when I say I have one suit that "fits" I don't mean it fits perfectly. It's still a little snug.

Well, my sister is getting married this weekend. And my plan a few weeks ago was to lose enough weight to be comfortable in my smaller suit. And as it turned out, that was a very stupid plan. I can wear the suit now, but it's a little too slimming. In other words, I have to suck in and hold my breath when I button it. And that's not very comfortable.

So I was explaining this to my wife last night and she panicked a little bit. She said it wasn't going to work and we should have thought of this a month ago, and this is really not good, etc. But I decided that I can lose enough of my girth to get it to fit in the next two days. And she thinks I'm crazy. So I bet her $100 that it would fit much better by tomorrow night. She didn't take the bet (unfortunately), but I'll still feel vindicated when I'm wearing the suit at the wedding and it looks better than it did last night. That'll show her. So where can I get a manly girdle in the next 36 hours?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cheap Thrills

I'm a self-proclaimed nerd. I don't mind admitting that because I don't think it's embarrassing. I'd rather know too much about stuff than not enough of anything. So I wear my nerd badge with honor. But I'm also a self-proclaimed wuss. And that's not one you can really be proud of. Nerds can say, "I've memorized 98 digits of pi." And people will be impressed. They'll pick you last in sports, but they'll be impressed. But I can't say, "I'm afraid of heights, spiders, and girls," and expect anyone to be impressed in the slightest. They'll just look at me sadly and assume I own an inhaler.

And in certain ways I don't mind being a wuss. It's the main reason I'll never get horribly injured in a motorcycle accident. And it means I won't be the guy on the news who got too close to the edge and fell into the Grand Canyon. But sometimes I feel like I want to change. I feel like I want to put some adventure into my life. I can understand the appeal for people who take risks for fun. Skydiving and bungie jumping and giving somebody your hidden immunity idol finally make a little more sense. I still think all those things are insanely stupid, but I see the merit now.

So I've started easing my way into risk-taking fun. I jaywalked recently. I didn't even try to make it to the crosswalk. The last time I went swimming, I finished eating just 6 minutes before getting in the water. I also went jogging last week without stretching once. And just the other day I switched lanes without checking my blind spot. It sent a chill down my spine, but I did it anyway. And if that's not thrill-seeking, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In Case Of Emergency... Break The Rules

My freshman year in college, I saved the following as my voicemail:

"Hey, this is Taylor. Leave a message and I'll call you back. If this is an emergency and you need me immediately, call three times in a row and I'll do whatever I can to call you back."

I thought it was brilliant. That way, no matter what the circumstance, I could be available at any given time as long as I heard the phone ring (or feel it buzz). So if you needed something badly, you could call three times and I'd walk out of a meeting, or walk out of class, or interrupt a regularly-scheduled broadcast to help you out. But here's some advice. Never give your brother specific instructions on how to get you to drop whatever you're doing to talk to him. He'll probably do what my older brother did and take full advantage of it.

The main problem was that no one ever had a real emergency. So every time I got called three times in a row, it was a false alarm. And it was mostly my older brother. Which is why I had to change my voicemail and abort the idea altogether.

The first time it happened, though, I kinda freaked out. I was in the middle of a Political Science class, and my phone started buzzing. I saw it was my older brother, so I declined it. Then he called again, so I declined again. Then he called again. And I went into emergency mode. I threw my books into my backpack, stuffed my pen in my pocket and bolted out the door. Then I frantically called him back. Here's how that conversation went:

Me: "Is everything okay?! What's going on?!"
Him: "Nothing much. What're you up to?"
Me: "What am I up to? Is there an emergency?"
Him: "Oh... uh... no."
Me: "Then why did you call three times in a row?"
Him: "Well, I knew you were in class and we were gonna go get some pizza for lunch. And I knew that was the only way I could get you to leave your class and come with us."
Me: "Are you serious?! I just rushed out my class like a madman and you... wait, pizza from where?"

So that was the beginning of the end for my brilliant voicemail plan. Now I just stick to the basic stuff. I might even revert back to the robotic lady voice that just gives your number and says you're not available. It makes me feel like I have a robot secretary.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lookin' Like A Fool...

I think it's wrong to laugh at people, for the most part. I don't think it's right to insult others for fun or mock people (at least, not to their faces). But there are some people I've met who I can't help but laugh at. And I will even sometimes make a point to openly laugh at them. For example, when I see a teenager with his jeans down to his knees, then a pair of basketball shorts down to his thighs, then a pair of boxers showing, all the while holding this ridiculousness up with one of his hands as he walks... I laugh. I'm not really into fashion, but I see no point in wearing a pair of pants that require you to hold them up while you walk. If I have to hold my pants up, that means they've either torn suddenly or I've walked in front of Wayne Szalinski's machine without warning.

So anyway, I usually make it very obvious that I'm laughing at how stupid he looks. In fact, I will often point so as not to leave any doubt that he is the reason I'm laughing. My wife doesn't like this because she thinks I'll get shot or mugged or something. But I'm usually in the mall or in my car. And let's face it; I can outrun anyone whose pants are at their ankles.

I did this to a kid in a gas station parking lot over the weekend. I made sure he was looking at me, then I stared at his pants and laughed very deliberately and loudly. And his friend whispered something to him. I'm assuming it was, "Dude, that guy's laughing at your pants." So the pants-down kid frowned, and the friend joined me in laughing. I felt a little vindicated that a teenager realized the ridiculousness of his friend's clothing choices. Maybe I made a difference in that kid's life. Maybe he'll clean himself up, buy some pants that fit (and maybe a belt), and become a great young man. It's nice to know I could have changed his life. They shot and mugged me, but it just might have been worth it.