Thursday, October 25, 2007

2007 Work Newsletter Article

Just submitted this for our Winter newsletter. Right on the dot at 500 words. Sweet! Written under the theme of Holiday Sustainability.

For some reason, full-scale environmental Armageddon has fallen out of fashion. When I was a whipper snapper -- plunking tokens to play Tron and Elevator Action -- a scarred environmentally-collapsed wasteland featuring overpowered cars with questionable safety features was cool. Adolescent boys from my era were taught that deserts were rad, or even, awesome. From Dune to Tattoine to wherever the hell Mad Max lived, pop culture was tellings us that greenery was for silly boys who actually thought Ewoks were a good idea and not the hell-spawn debasement of all that is right and good in the world.

But now, now we care about the environment. Anyone who has taken any sort of course, in well, anything, can tell you that Stuff is in limited supply; in this case, that Stuff is clean air and water. Before getting all hemp-sweatered and tie-dyed on you, let me just cut this short and say that environmentalism is a good thing, it's also just Common Sense.

(It's a pity that there are two groups on the issue, and I'll avoid political entanglements and just break it down to "People who thinks we should listen to Scientists when dealing with Science", and "People who think Economists have a lock on all this Sciency stuff, because, after all, they sure helped us avoid all those recessions what with their fidgety models which are only good in hind-sight". So much for avoiding political entanglements.)

But the seasons are turning, we are rounding the corner on that most profligate of holidays, I'm talking of course, about none other than Saturnalia. I'd detail the excesses of it here, but frankly, I don't want to bring down the wrath of the Watercooler Censors (a shadowy group trained primarily in lethal ankle holds). Let's just say that the consumer free-for-all we alternately enjoy/suffer under is not even close to how the Romans celebrated Solstice. And it's this spirit of excess that makes the holidays a tempting time to let go of our inner Suzuki and embrace our inner Bachhus.

I'm not suggesting that we all eat tofurkey in the dark while eating only fruits and vegetables grown from our compost heap; but there are ways to lessen our impact on the Earth.

- use LED Christmas lights instead of incandescent. They have a groovy glow and last ages longer.

- try to buy food that's grown locally, as much as possible. Closer to home means less fossil fuels used to move it from the ground to your plate.

- buy stuff for the younger ones that don't run on batteries. Chances are they'll be much less annoying (the toys, not the children).

- plan ahead to reduce multiple car trips. It'll also reduce your exposure to holiday traffic.

- consider knitting all your Christmas gifts. Or at least, you know, making some of them. A tastefully decorated frame with a loved ones picture is sometimes more appreciated than the Gigawatt Whatsamathinger For Your High Definition Entertainment Needs.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Thought of the Day #3 : Giving up the seat

So when you're on the bus and a decrepit old crone comes aboard, shuffling along with stroller near groaning under her surplus purchase of kitty litter and tuna, it's pretty straight forward, you offer your seat. Pregnant woman, ditto.

But there are times when I'm pretty well flummoxed.

The almost old people. They look like they could be old... But they are fighting off aging with a large stick of denial and not a small amount of hair colouring. You watch them, they don't look around expectantly, they grab a hold of the overhead bar and hold on for dear life like everyone else. Does one offer their seat to them, thereby embarrassing them into accepting their old age, and by extension, I suppose, their closer demise to the march fo Time? Me, being the weak willed coward that I am, simply suppose that it'd be too embarrassing for me, and simply stare at the ground meaningfully.

And it's always trickier when they are men. Older men are a rarity on the bus, in any case. they are a transient sighting, sure to never be seen again. Perhaps their crotchety yet usually dependable American sedan with the rear wheel drive and terrible gas mileage is in the shop for its annual checkup; perhaps they have loaned their car to the wife for just one day, while they try an adventure aboard the public transit; it's never clear. And what's even less clear is whether they would take your seat if you offered it to them. They usually have the stalwart expression of a person who has maybe seen an actual pitched war in his hometown of whatever european village he seems to have been airlifted from. A little standing is nothing to him. He'll let all those soft young people keep their seats, what with their rock music and disco.

Ah, the vagaries of transit etiquette. The only thing for it, of course, is to take the bus at god awfully early hours, thereby winnowing down fellow transit passengers to construction workers or insomniac office workers, and maybe the odd geek who looks about worriedly, hoping that the next person to get on the bus isn't a crotchety old man with a dyed toupee wearing a faded uniform from D-Day.

Friday, October 19, 2007

JPod Ripoff #3 eBay Myself

Item Number:15457342
Current Bid: Error : Num must be >=0;
Time left: Not enough
Start Time: 08-08-1986
Ends: Sooner than you'd think
History: Surprisingly short and uncomplicated.
Item location: Fort Wadsworth
Ships to: If price is no object, anywhere; if it is, then approximately 3 blocks away or anywhere that isn't Mumm-Ra's secret lair, whichever is closer.
Seller: desperately_needing_blog_readers49038291839587243950239
You are bidding on a programmer model from sometime in the 70's. Has a faulty memory unit that can't remember anything that hasn't occurred in the last 5 minutes unless it involves Transformers or is one of the many plastic figurines that had 30 minute long commercials on Saturday mornings (which were only broken up by 30 second ads for other plastic figures which had their own 30 minute long commercials; well, that and Easy-Bake Ovens).

This piece was found neglected underneath a rather shoddy flight of stairs that has frankly injured or killed most of my older relatives and has thereby been relegated to the 'do not use' category of household areas. Luckily I was looking for some near lethal baby playthings from 1950's that Grandma said she stored under there, even though they are all covered with lead paint and have as much safety as a pinto backing up at full speed down the interstate with a trunk-load of surplus grenades, they do have a certain charm about them. And what would you know? Instead of finding the charming yet oh so lethal toddler playthings, I stumbled upon this unit. Yours for the low low price of whatever anyone is willing to pay.

It has an admitted tendency to blather on about things that only first year Compsci students might find interesting, and only if said Compsci students are enormous gaming nerds with less chance of getting a bird in bed than Liberace in San Francisco.

For all collectors, this unit is in his original packaging, khakis and a non-ironic, solid colour t-shirt that probably hasn't been changed in the last 4 days or so.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

JPod Ripoff #2 Personal Ad for Ronald McDonald

So in the continuing saga of me pretending I'm a character in a Douglas Coupland novel, here is my latest entry. The next challenge in the book that the coworkers set for themselves is to write a personal ad to Ronald McDonald. Creepy? Yes. Alarming? Even moreso. Possible fodder for hilarity? We'll see.

Ronald, I'm the man for you -- not because I'm willing to forgo my attachment to heterosexuality and overcome my terror of a clown in erotic repose in my bed -- no, I'm the man for you because of my undying devotion to you and your cow-packaging empire.

Sure, you had your legions of multi-billion dollar ad agencies feed my mythology starved childhood with images of a Burger Kingdom with semi-sentient, glass wearing fries and an endearing break-and-enter specialist who could think of no better use of his nefarious talents than to steal goddamn burgers of all things. But let it be known, that I embraced said brainwa-- I mean indoctrination, wholeheartedly.

I've been a Mcdonald's acolyte ever since I could voice my preference for where to eat; it was never Burger King (even though I suspected that they might be better, and be serving something that was actually food, and not just 'food' in the strictly legal sense), and not even Chuck E Cheeze (that terror house of animatronics), always the Golden Arches. That abode for a clown who had no circus to perform in, no bar mitzvahs to create complex ballooon animals which all looked alarmingly like a weiner dogs. You were my first and only choice.

I've never waivered, never faltered. I won't leave you like that goddamn moon-faced drifter Mac Tonight (where is he now, with his promise of late night trysts and badly covered jazz standards?). Loyalty ranks high on my list. Even after I found out that the puke inducing slime that covered the mandibles of the Alien in the eponymous movie was in fact your milkshake thickener, I did not waver. Nay, my love for all things semi-edible, with a beef-like scent and packaged in Golden Arches packaging seemed to only increase as I grew older.

And then there was you. The omni-present, ever smiling, ever genial, proto-Michael Jackson with more wholesome pedophilic tendencies (who has their likeness turned into a statue that sits on a park bench for crying out loud? crreeeepy). Your disturbing nature was counteracted by your Hanna Barberra like universe you inhabited, and your lucrative Disney tie-ins which had me slavering in consumerist-diabetic shock for the latest hyper-carcinogenic plastic bauble featering what's-his-face and who's-its-name.

There's something comforting about your easy going nature and the simplicity in your demands (eat Mcdonalds, only Mcdonalds). I feel drawn to having a romantic relationship with you as a dyed in the wool card carrying Communist might want to have a roll in the hay with Lenin, or Marx (no, not Richard Marx, God never intended for hair to be that feathered).

Who would form a solid, albeit strained (remember the whole hetero and Terror Of Erotic Clowns thing I'm dealing with) pair bond with you? A bunch of narcisstic smarmy assed, game-designer blowhards who have the emotional intelligence of a poorly made Czech sex doll; or me? Your ever devoted, brainwashed devotee of 31 years?

I'd think the choice is obvious.