Sunday, May 29, 2011

People in your neighborhood - The No One Edition

When one lives just two blocks from a bar district in a college town, he learns to appreciate the sort of tranquility that comes with silence. With that in mind, I stray from the norm today, writing an edition of People In Your Neighborhood about my neighborhood sans people.

Here it is, May 29, and a large chunk of the collegiate population that inhabits this town for 10 months each year has left with the speed of a first-timer in a fire drill. As a result, the streets are empty, lines are short, and I can actually hear the birds outside my window as I type (rather than the continual drone of motors on Anderson Ave).

Do I sound antisocial to be taking such joy in the fact that there are fewer people to drive behind, scoot around, or painstakingly listen to on a daily basis over the summer? Perhaps. Then again, I might not be conditioned in such a manner if folks gave courtesy waves at crosswalks* and refrained from horrible attempts at freestyle rapping at all hours of the day.

*Note to any kid preparing for college. The courtesy wave is your friend. Consider: there's a two-ton vehicle bearing down the street at 33-mph. It skids to a stop, all because it sees you standing at the side of the road, next to a path of white stripes. Had the driver of said vehicle not taken note of you, you might be enjoying the finest dining that a tube can offer for months. You want to at least lift your arm in some sort of manner to acknowledge said driver? I thought so.

Gone from town are the packs of fraternity folks making their nightly journeys to Aggieville, seemingly thinking that "Woooooooo! I'm wasted!" is a good conversation starter. Gone are the folks that have been in town for 10 months, but still don't know how to properly navigate a roundabout. (COUNTERclockwise? What?) And gone are the neighbors who refuse to acknowledge you, know matter how many times you hold a door open for them. (Speaking from experience? Me?)

It's true, Manhattan would not be Manhattan without K-State and the energy that the students bring. That said, I can live with calling the town New Boston for a couple months each year. Now excuse me. I have some silence to enjoy.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Well, my poor blog has become the picture of neglect over the past month. For this, I apologize. I also realize that if things proceed in this fashion for too long, said blog will soon be shown on commercials that feature the sort of music that makes a person begin to tear up immediately and that ask for donations to benefit those less fortunate.

I can't let that happen.

I won't let that happen.

While I work on getting back to a more regular (read: sporadic) posting schedule, you should probably check out in the mean time. It's a great site, and I hear that some ruggedly handsome, semi-writer has posts over there on occasion.

The Writings: Your home for the author's shameless self-promotion.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Salinity Now

This just in: I don’t drink the saline solution that one typically stores contact lenses in.

Nor do I bathe in it, nor swim in it in recreational fashion.

I also refrain from using it to create very hygienic dioramas of ocean life.

Alas, none of this seems to matter to the young woman who gathered my contact lens materials at the eye doctor yesterday. She sent me home with a back packed so full of bottles of contact solution that – had I been sporting red clothes and a white beard – people might have been wondering if Santa Claus had finally lost his bearings and forgotten how to read a calendar. As I stumbled through the door, lugging the bag like a toddler carrying a bowling ball, I realized that a visit to the optometrist’s office is a situation that this blog needs to delve into. Read on… Feel free to cover your right eye while you do so.

 The waiting is the hardest part… - Tom Petty, with or without accompanying heartbreakers
If you have ever heard any 1980’s stand-up comedy, you are familiar with the notion that waiting rooms of doctors’ offices tend to feature outdated magazines. The optometrist does not disappoint in the aspect, providing me with a Sports Illustrated from six months ago.  While it’s true that I do enjoy reading through back issues of SI (my old bedroom at my parents’ home is littered with them as if they hold clues for surviving the Apocalypse), I don’t necessarily the old woman staring me down from across the way. Via my peripheral vision, I notice that the senior is looking at me as if I have been leading a mole immigration effort that ends in her yard. Uncomfortable. Luckily, her attempts to telepathically cripple my mind end when my name is called. 

Ow, my eye! I’m not supposed to get pudding in it! – Lenny Leonard
As a sports fan, many of the tests I’m put through at an annual eye exam seem like drills at the NFL Draft Combine.
“Quickly, cover one eye and read the bottom row.”
“A, R, T, G, S, L, 8”
“Good.” (brings up a different line on chart.) “Now cover the other eye and read the bottom line.”
“O, P, S, D, M, Egyptian hieroglyph that looks like a bird, Pepsi logo, and drawing of an obese hamster.”
“Uhh… good…”
Yes, I am one of those people that will try to guess what a letter on the eye chart is rather than simply admitting that I can’t read it. Weird? Absolutely, since the eye-loving folks are just trying to ensure that my vision is as sharp as possible, but apparently the childhood fear of drawing poor marks in school has transcended to the world of eye exams… At least I’ve never been in the position of having to test said personally quirk in a sobriety test. Slapping oneself in the forehead whilst trying to touch one’s nose and then attempting to convince an officer of the law that you meant to do it probably wouldn’t go over well.

I have many leather-bound books and my home smells of rich mahogany. – Ron Burgandy
Events at the optometrist reach a climax when my actual eye doctor enters the exam room. Doc (name omitted to protect the innocent) has been dealing with my peepers for about 18 years, so it’s fair to say that we have crossed paths a few times. That said, for some reason I’m always surprised when he remembers that I write part-time. After all, judging by the (lack of) frequency of updates to The Writings recently, I have a difficult time remembering that I write part-time. I’m not saying that my writing seems insignificant at times, but… well… my writing seems insignificant at times.
Enough about me, back to the doc. His fingers deftly speed through switches and dials while attempting to correctly prescribe the correct lenses for my eyes, all while carrying an all-too-familiar refrain, “One… or two… or one…. Three … or four…) If it was not for my indecision and lack of trust in my own judgment (“Wait, was six really better than seven? Can we rewind?”) I think the examination would last approximately two minutes and nine seconds. Even the blinding attempts to peer into my eye with a microscope and flash light (personally, I think it would be a lot cooler if they wore miners’ helmets for this) go by in a jiffy. Before I know it, I have a new contact lens prescription (each eye “bumped up a quarter” whatever that might mean… I’m fairly certain that no Washington-adorned currency was actually involved), a free pair of sunglasses (which are slightly more stylish than wrapping my head in tinted film and provide enough pressure that my medulla may shoot out my nose), and a bag packed with so many fluid filled bottles that I’m surprised it didn’t come loaded on an oxen-pulled wagon. 

A day at the optometrist is an eventful one, indeed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have a lifetime supply of contact solution to attempt to sell on eBay.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Happy Mothers'... D'oh!

As I type this, I find myself up a creek with no paddle, tentatively teetering in the current while on a raft made of generic brand of cotton swabs. Did I mention that the creek serves as home to schools of piranhas that love nothing more than tearing into the flesh of wannabe-writers who have one ear that sticks out further than the other? No? Forgive the omission.

What did I do to find myself in such a predicament?

I scheduled a bachelor party on Mothers’ Day weekend.

And every person attending said party – other than myself – is married or engaged.

And 76.9-percent of those attendees have wives who are - or will soon be - mothers.

 … Yes, “D’oh!” is right.

Such an error in judgment could have been avoided fairly easily, it seems. After all, I’ve heard that many people use things called “calendars” to track daily schedules and note annual events. Practicing such responsibility would have probably been a good move, but wouldn’t that require moving through life in an organized manner? (Note to self: look into this.)

I should probably just wrap this note with a picture that shows how red my forehead is from the repeated, self-inflicted slapping it received once I realized that how these dates fell on the calendar, but at this point I am afraid that any pictures I post of myself will ultimately serve as dartboards (or worse).  Frankly, I’d prefer that we keep games of “Pin the razor-sharp railroad spike to Derek’s throat” limited to girls that I’ve dated.  Instead, a quick note to moms out there:

The work that you do is unbelievable;
It’s tireless, endless, and tough;
Chances are strong that your family,
Will never be able to thank you enough.

Someday a fool may foul up your weekend;
Forgetting about the second Sunday in May;
Please know he means no harm, he’s just a fool;
Have an undeniably great Mothers’ Day!

Sunday, May 01, 2011


If you have ever watched much science fiction on television or in film, you know that there has been plenty of thought put into the idea of what might happen as our society continues to advance technologically. From droids to cylons to homes too smart for their own good, it seems that creations with intelligence of the artificial variety always seem to find some way to go awry. Luckily, it seems that those crafting such stories are paying far too much credence to the programming that goes with such intelligence. Simply put, they're wrong; we're safe. Why don't I fear the uprising of artificial intelligence leading to the collapse and enslavement of the human race?

to "personalized" emails I have recently received, I am both a Democrat
and a Republican*; I am an avid NBA bettor; I am a plus-sized woman who
enjoys buying clothes online; I am always looking for bargain prices on prescription pain meds; and I am gullible enough to believe that I can buy an iPad for $23.74.

*Unfortunately I have yet to receive anything from the whigs.

According to iTunes' "genius feature, I should be buying an album by Sum 41, despite the fact that it's no longer 2001 and I don't own a skateboard.

According to Netflix's movie suggestions, I'd really enjoy a Nova special about "social robots," all because I gave the NBC comedy "Parks and Recreation" a high rating.*

*Connect those dots... I'd enjoy a science special because I enjoy laughing during a show where the main characters think that all library employees are evil. Nice try, artificial intelligence!

After thorough review of the above, I'm fairly certain that we all can feel safe. Artificial intelligence has a long way to go before it is posing any major threats, so don't feel threatened by any "smartphones" you see.

Armies of uber-intelligent nanobots won't soon be invading my home... But if they do, there's no way I'm buying any plus-sized women's clothing from them.