Friday, March 31, 2006

Williebee's Law of Self-Importance

"The more seriously you take yourself, the less seriously others will."

Oh, and you have to give a snake credit. Say what you will... slimy reptilian, product of sin, whatever. In the morning a snake is a snake. At the end of the day? A snake is still a snake. No games, No pretending. Just another freakin' snake. Which only goes to show that snakes are still better than some academics I've worked with lately.

[soapbox removed and put away, thank you.]

Remember: On the outside of every thin woman is some fat guy trying to get in.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Disposable Hardware

While out with some friends last night I took a walk down some old hallways. One of them took me back to a brief time in Dallas when I sold closed-circuit satellite feeds of events like boxing matches to sports bars and topless bars. It didn't last very long. It's not that I didn't enjoy the job. But it didn't go over too well as a "Career Day" presentation to my daughter's third grade class.

This was back about the beginning of the age of pagers. There was a topless bar in the Metroplex that ran a daily "Businessman's Special" starting at 11:00. (Never go in before they open at 11:00. The only thing more depressing than having lunch at a topless bar is seeing one before they open; Empty, all the lights on... It's a sad, cavernous hole where the only things that seem alive are the stains and the stench borne of years of gathered frustrations.)

Which leads us back down that hallway, to the point of this post. A large, matronly lady ran the place. She used to greet everybody at the door during the first hour or so of each day. She'd collect all the guy's pagers from them. "Honey, you ain't gonna call them back from here, anyway...."

A little after noon she'd set all the pagers she collected to vibrate and strap them somewhere on her body. Then she'd get up on the stage, grab the microphone, look out at the assembled suits and say, "OK, I'm ready. Page me. Page me NOW!!!!!"


I have to believe that little scenario played itself out in joints like that all over the country; all over a lot of countries. I'm just wondering how much the topless industry had to do with shaping the attitude that pagers and cell phones were "disposable" hardware.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

"Anger comes from Fear, Always."

I wish I could say that I was the first person to uncover that profound little observation, but when I first saw it it was in something written by an eccentric SF genius named Spider Robinson.

It is a profound truth. Feelings of anger are a reaction triggered by feelings of fear.

Fear that “she doesn't like me anymore”; or “he won't want to see me again”;

Fear of losing your job, or if you've lost your job, fear that your peers, friends or family won't see you as worthy anymore. Fear that “I'll never work again.” Or just the fear that you won't be able to pay the bills next month.

And it is self-replicating: Your kid scares the crap out of you by running into the street without looking and you lash out at them in anger. You grab an arm and shout at them, trying to get the message through, and they get scared and angry right back at you.

Good news is, even if it isn't “fixable” it can be made better, just by seeing it when it hits you. When the anger hits, look for the fear that's causing it. Identifying the fear can lessen it. Even if the fear doesn't go away, the anger can.

Hey, unsolicited advice. It's not really a guy thing. I get it from my grandmother. I hope I don't get everything from her. These days she is as likely as not to answer her front door without any pants on. My mom says it is part of the onset of her Alzheimers. But, it might also be an indication that she is the genetic source of my sense of humor.

One other truth Spider taught me.

“Shared pain is diminished. Shared joy is multiplied.”

The second part of that is obvious, the first, not so much. Shared joy does multiply itself. Euphoria loves company. Oddly enough, despite the old saying, misery really doesn't. A miserable person can be made less miserable by sharing his or her burden. But the misery itself gets diminished by the sharing.

It can also help to have a “designated worrier” in your family. Brings me back to my grandmother. When I was little she told me that that was one of her jobs. “You got a problem?” she once said when I was about six, “You come tell Mamma Poe. Then you go play. I'll worry it out for both of us.” Seemed to work every time.

I miss you Mamma Poe...


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Hey, I'm walking here!

To paraphrase (badly) a passage from one of the great John D. MacDonald's books:

Overweight people shouldn't run. It is not good for society that they be seen even walking fast. His character, Meyer's, theory was that when you see trim healthy people jogging down a beach or down a sunny street you think “Isn't that wonderful, -- Healthy, exuberant people exercising.” When you see a round, out of shape person running down the beach you begin to look behind them to see what is chasing them. And, when you don't see what is chasing them, you look after them, and see them continuing to run; panting, sweating, moving down the beach. That's when you begin to worry about whatever it is that is chasing them, that you can't see. And so you begin to walk after them, slowly at first, and then faster. And then faster still as you try to make sure that you are at least a couple paces ahead of the other people who are doing what you are doing, trying to get away from whatever evil, terrifying monster is chasing the fat guy. Pretty soon you have a mob of frightened, panicked people running through the streets. Chaos ensues and calamity follows...

In short: Fat people shouldn't run. It's not healthy for the community.

What reminded me of the passage above was this: I went for a walk today.

Whether I'm fat or not is open for discussion. I am somewhat round, but cuddly. My blood pressure is good. I can jog a mile and still have the strength to dial 911 if necessary and I can still both see and tie my own shoes without passing out. How overweight am I? Depends upon who's trying to sell me the diet plan. There are some "experts" out there that think that anyone bigger around than an Olsen twin is overweight.

Having recently discovered a desire to take better care of myself and to be around a little longer, I've started walking whenever I can: To work, from work, to lunch. Take the stairs not the elevator...

But it isn't as easy as I thought it would be. Not that I can't get out the door and walk, I can. But I can't seem to keep walking. People keep stopping me to ask me if I need a ride.

Life in a small town can be like that. When everybody knows most everybody, and is friendly to most of the folks they know, they do that. Every third or fourth car has someone in it you know. They'll see you walking and pull up in front of you.

“Hey neighbor, need a ride?”

“No, thanks. I'm just out walking.”

“Really?” they say. Then they pause for a moment and try not to let their faces give away their amusement and disbelief. “Well..., good for you.”

Of course by then they've stopped you, and you're talking with them. There's a certain etiquette that is required of these things in a small town. You have to talk about the weather, and ask about the kids and grandkids, and what you think the high school basketball team's chances are this year. Fifteen minutes later you're waving goodbye as they pull away; but now you're cooled down and back to square one. Off you go again, but three to four cars later and you're back in conversation.

I'm thinking of getting myself a t-shirt that says “Hey, I'm Walkin' Here!” on the front and maybe “Just exercising.” on the back.

Of course if I did, and someone were to chase me down, beat me unconscious and rob me, bystanders would gather around my silent form and say things to each other like “Hey, I saw him running. I just thought he was getting better at it.”

The sad part is this: If I was young and studly and tanned I could take my shirt off, slap on a pair of hot pink, silk, jogging shorts and walk anywhere in town and people would drive on past me, waving and watching admiringly as I stepped out, exercising my healthy self.

I could walk anywhere in town I wanted to, if only I didn't need the exercise.

Friday, March 03, 2006

My Brain Hurts...

Man, looking back at the first entry, and how long ago it was.... I guess the answer is maybe, but just barely.

Quick update. I successfully completed the nanowrimo contest and the book, Jazz & The Monkey Man is off at publishers, probably collecting rejection notices. But, I did it. I is a novelist.

Back to My Brain Hurts...

Just got back from IL-TCE 2006 , an amazing technology conference for Illinois Educators in Chicago. My thanks to Mindy, Luke, Christine, and all the folks who folded me into their team and made it such a tremendous experience. I will do my best to pass on the knowledge gained and huge heart that the event has. Go ICE!