Aug 29 2006

Courtesy Brad

Alright, this one’s not mine, but it’s so representative of my friends, and Brad in particular, that I have to share it.

I’ve known Brad since before Cub Scouts (yes, I was a Cub Scout for a short while), which means we’ve been friends for over two decades now. He was in town a few weeks ago and shared this story over a couple beers. First, some helpful background: Brad is a pretty physically fit guy, funny, hard to rattle, and has a successful law career going. He’s been wanting to do some ultra-marathons and triathlons lately, so when our friend Matt came up and and told him about an upcoming triathlon, he jumped at the chance.

On the last day.

Without having trained.

Since this was in Phoenix, there’s no ocean swimming, so the swim is done in a pool, the cycling in a circuit, and then it’s topped off by a street run. First thing he notices is that that everyone else is in competitive swim suits, i.e., Speedos.

He’s in board shorts.

Since he registered so late, he’s one of the last to start. Undaunted by the extra drag of his suit, he dives in when his number’s called and starts swimming. He’s churning along, thinking it’s been a while, but this isn’t so bad …. But pretty soon, he’s starting to get winded and worn out.

Before he finishes the first lap.

Out of twenty.

Somehow, through shear will power I suppose, he finishes his twenty laps. He’s one of the last to finish, aside from the few people that signed up after him and are in worse shape, but has trouble getting his socks on eventually he tosses the socks and goes shoes-only – which will be a very poor decision when arriving at the running portion – but Brad has a another problem before that.

See, Brad didn’t have a road bike. In fact, Brad didn’t have anything but a beach cruiser he uses to ride the occasional half-mile around the neighborhood. So Brad had to borrow a bicycle. Considering how late he signed up, all he could find was a mountain bike.

The spectators snicker as he hops on the only cycle in the race with big fat bumpy tires, wide handlebars, and shock absorbers. He ignores them, pushing through the first quarter mile or so, when he realizes there’s something … different … about this bike. The brakes are on seat-side of the handlebars. Hmm, he thinks, I remember the brakes being on the front … well, I haven’t ridden a hi-tech bike in a while, maybe this is the new style or something ….

Minutes later it hits him.

So he stops, dismounts, and turns the handlebar around 180 degrees.

As it happens, one of the seeded racers is lapping him at that very moment, and upon seeing this guy in swim trunks and no socks having ridden a half a mile with the front wheel backward, almost eats it from laughing so hard.

God, I love my friends.

(Yes, he did finish the race. With blisters.)


Aug 28 2006

Chicago, Back Again

Last Fri-Sun I was up in Chicago hanging out with an old friend. It was awesome to see him again, and he found a quality girl, so kudos to him. Overall, Chicago is a damn cool city – actually, that’s an understatement, it totally roxors – and I wish I would’ve have more days there (although my liver might disagree.) I did get the chance to wander around and shoot some pics, so I’ll be posting those soon. Speaking of which, if you haven’t been there lately, I’ve put some new images (finally!) over at the photo blog.


Aug 25 2006

Chattel

My friend’s fiance wants things. She wants a new car, a new laptop, a new piece of furniture … things that are bigger, better, faster version of things she already owns. She whines plaintively about not having these things, about getting these things, about the joy of eventually having these things. I don’t believe she whines because these things out beyond her means, and that they are not beyond my friend’s means, but because she worries. She worries that her life is too stressful, that events won’t work out, and these smaller, older, slower things she already has provide minor annoyances that grate on her already frazzled outlook.

Material things will not ease an already troubled mind.

I have things. I’m currently trying to get rid of things; to pare down to the necessities (of both utility and beauty.) Although I believe I currently have too many things, there was a time when I had even more things. There was a time when I was pulling in twice what I make now, and my cost of living was half – I had four times as many things.

And I can absolutely tell you, more things don’t make you feel better, more relaxed, less stressed, etc. If anything, you have to worry more about losing said things, or repairing them, maintaining them, all of which only adds to your stress. Of course, there are the obvious exceptions – a new bed can definitely help you relax and get a better nights sleep, thereby improving your wakeful mind, but these are not the things I’m talking about. I’m talking about the things you’ve gotten along without thus far.

These new things are distractions, they don’t address the problem. The problem is the troubled mind. Stress relief comes from removing or dealing with the stresses themselves, not the feelings they produce. Sure, maybe life seems a whole lot easier when you get that new bedroom furniture – you have room for all your stuff, and it’s so easy to get to everything! – but ultimately the stress and worries of life will manifest somewhere else. You think, _ if only I could do the same for the garage,_ but it never ends. Once the distraction becomes banal, the stress returns and you go looking for a new distraction.

Getting new things is generally treating the symptom, not the source.

Now, I’m not against owning things as a principle, but one of the problem with the consumer culture we live in now is that the consumption tends to be used as a crutch to avoid personal introspection, a kind of snake-oil cure-all for your mental needs. It’s not strictly a need-versus-want question, either. You’re allowed to have things you want and don’t need, that perfectly alright. But do you want them for the right reasons? Do you want a new car because your old one can’t make it out into the woods to go camping? Sounds like you need a new car. Maybe that’s valid. Or maybe it’s just an excuse – perhaps it’d be more fun to park farther away, and backpack in to your campsite.

I’ve been thinking about this a great deal lately, since I’ve been on a minimization kick. I’ll be keeping plenty of the things I already own, such as antique furniture and whatnot, but I’ll be placing those and many other things in storage and pretty much forgetting about them. What do I want after I sell the house? I think the core boils down to:

  • Clothes, enough to get through 2-3 weeks
  • Set of dishware, glasses, and utensils for two people
  • Small table and two chairs
  • Bed and linens
  • Laptop and related sundry
  • Camera and related sundry
  • Car, with iPod :)
  • Some nice art to hang on the walls

Books? Storage. CDs, end-tables, coffee-table, chairs, miscellaneous kitchen gear, power tools? Storage. TV, stereo, miscellaneous furniture? Will be sold or given away. It may appear to be somewhat “college bachelor” style, but I believe it can be done tastefully and minimally. And when it comes down to it, most of the rest of the stuff I could retain I don’t really use. Not right now, anyway.

Of course, I realize that, just like acquiring things isn’t a cure-all, neither is relinquishing. But it does help relieve distractions, making it easier to concentrate on your self.


Aug 24 2006

Sushi N Beach

Sushi joint with Nat and Nae:

Nat, 'Nae, Me


Aug 23 2006

Overhead at the Coffee House

“You’re not going to get anywhere with a queen.”

– Male-to-Female transexual, playing chess

“Spiderman wouldn’t have been nearly as popular if his webbing came out his ass.”

– Real-life incarnation of Comic-Book Guy


Aug 22 2006

Chicago – Request for Advice

I’ll be trekking out to Chicago early Friday morning to visit a long time friend. I’ll only be there for three days, which isn’t nearly enough time, but I really couldn’t spare any more. Regardless, in the unlikely event I/we have time to kill, what should I go see or do? I’m not really into touristy-things – I’d like to go to a cool neighborhood and grab a cup of coffee and check out the local scene that hit the Sears tower – although I would like to take some shots of the city while I’m there.

Suggestions?


Aug 21 2006

Internal Dynamics

I was recently at a party that consisted primarily of people I didn’t know. I’m pretty comfortable with that; I tend to make friends rather easily. Two of the gents I met there were T—- and G—-, a gay couple in San Diego. We chatted for a bit, and they seemed like pretty cool guys. Anyway, I wouldn’t bring it up if there wasn’t some interesting … repercussions.

I am a gay boy porn star.

Well, not really, but it came back around to me that the two of them a pretty sure they’ve seen me online. In pictures. Performing lewd and lascivious acts. On a porn site specifically by and for gay men in San Diego. Now, I can’t ever recall fucking for money while sober, be it with guys or girls, and while I’ve been pretty drunk before, I’m pretty sure I haven’t tried that. I’d put it up there at five nines: 99.999% – the other %0.001 is just to account for parallel universes, time-space singularities, and a sundry of other things that may have spun me briefly into gay porn and back to my regular self without my knowledge. (These things happen, I hear.)

I find this absolutely hilarious.

However, it does change some internal dynamics. I’m not necessarily the best looking guy, but I have gotten to odd wink or smile from guys while dining out in Hillcrest with friends. Normally, I’d get a little ego boost – I don’t care if it’s from guy or a girl, it’s a compliment – but just politely smile or nod and continue on, making it clear that I’m not down with the man-booty. After all, just ‘cause you think I’m cute, doesn’t mean it’s reciprocal, and I’ll take your compliment while trying to indicate that I’m not interested. I unsuccessfully pick up on girls all too often, and I’m sure some of them wouldn’t have even noticed me if I hadn’t introduced myself, so we’re just running the same scenario with different players. No harm, no foul.

But now I have this voice in the back of my head, this one that whispers to me when I meet a gay man, that there’s this small chance a wink or handshake might be saying, “so, I saw you online ….”

And I find this even funnier.


Aug 12 2006

TXT Quotes

My phone’s been a little slow on the UI (User Interface) side lately, occasionally freezing up for a few seconds in the course of standard use. After digging a bit, I noticed that I had a metric shit-ton of TXT messages sitting around in both my inbox and outbox, so I went through and deleted most of them in hopes of remedying the problem. Completely out of context, I present a select few I just couldn’t resist the urge to share:

“Mooning, the brief flashing of ones bottom to others, is an instinctual behavior inherited from monkeys.”

“Hope is determination manifest.”

“If televsion’s a babysitter, the internet’s a drunk librarian who won’t shut up.”

“Using a feather is kinky … using the whole chicken is perverted.”

“Actually, it’s not the first week of celibacy that’s hard. It’s the subsequent years.”

“I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation. – George Bernard Shaw.”


Aug 11 2006

Understanding Water

In the martial arts world, we have meditations on all sorts of things, but some of the more common mediations, or at least well known, are on elements: generally either the five rings (earth, water, fire, wind, void) or the five elements (earth, metal, water, wood, fire) of Chinese cosmology. Some people get pretty ting-ting about “meditating on water” or they go the other way and see no spiritual nor practical application. William Saletan gives a pretty good example of how these meditation can be seen as frameworks for understanding the modern world.

On a side note, which is only tangentially related on the Taoist front, is a link that summarizes a lot of my thought on the direction I’m heading. So far, I’ve sold the stereo, given away or sold books and tons of CDs, some furniture, and more. I’m looking forward to the sale of the house and moving into something that will most likely be pretty shabby.

I cannot lose what I do not have. For I have already given it up, else I never had it in the first place.


Aug 8 2006

Strange Attractors

I’m cruising up I-15 this morning when I notice what sounds like a helicopter tracking my movement. But … it sounds a little different from most of the helicopters you hear flying from the local military bases, so I turn down the radio and slow down a bit. I notice my steering is muddy, and that the heli is matching my speed.

Of course, it’s not a heli, it’s the whoomp-whoomp-whoomp of a flat tire. It takes a few miles, but I’m finally able to cross three lanes to pull over in the hazard lane – but my hazard lights don’t go on when I press the button. Oh well, no big deal – it’s daylight, and I’ll just pop the trunk and most people will assume I’m broken down.

I unload my trunk into the back seat, pop out the spare tire and jack, get the lug nut lock. I’m all ready to feel nice and tire-changing masculine when I realize that I can’t seem to pop the hubcap cover off the wheel to get to the lugs. I try a key, a quarter, a pen – that fucker’s on there tight. The tip of my knife doesn’t appear to be strong enough; it looks like it’s bending and I don’t want knife-shrapnel in my eye. (Remind me to pick up a tanto-tip and store a screwdriver in my trunk.) That’s when I spot one of my swords lying in the back seat, one of the weapons I’ve just moved from the trunk. I take one of the metal training swords, unsheathe it, and begin wedging the tip down into the slot. Picture me sweating and wedging the tip of a shiny three foot sword down into my wheel on the side of one of the busiest freeways in San Diego during rush hour.

Of course, that’s when the CHP pulls up behind me.

This can’t look sane.

He looks at me suspiciously. “What’s going on here?”

“Hi sir, just a flat, no big deal.” I can see him looking at the sword somewhat incredulously. At least I had the forethought do set it down and step away from it before answering. “I couldn’t find a screw driver to pop my hubcap.”

He looks from me to the martial arts sticker on the back of my car, and I see his eyes scan down to the black belt sticking out of my gym bag in the trunk.

“Did you try a quarter?”

“Yeah. Any other suggestions?”

He scans the side of the road for usable debris, but finds nothing. “Yeah, sometimes those things are on there pretty tight. You need me to call roadside assistance?”

“No, I just called a moment ago, thank you though.”

“Why aren’t your hazards on?”

“I just got my radio worked on last weekend, and I guess they messed something up with the wiring – I haven’t had to use them recently, but they worked last time I tried.” I shrug. “I’m taking it back in next weekend.”

He just turns to scribble in his notebook. Shit, I think, I hope that’s just a fix-it ticket for the car and not a citation for the sword.

He turns back, surveys the scene, and wishes me a good-day.

Eventually roadside assistance comes and pops my hubcap, gets my donut on, and I get to work a good two hours late. I leave after only another hour of work to drive down to Discount Tire to swap tires. Culprit? A huge-ass razor blade sliced straight into my rear tire – probably kicked up from the front tire. I’m in and out in 45 minutes, spending a mere $15 for a brand-spanking new tire. Sean at Discount Tire in Poway, you rock. And regarding my query of “what’ve you got to eat around here?”, your answer of “everything that’s bad for you” was completely correct.

As soon as I get back into the office, I receive this call: This is [my credit card company], calling to verify a possible fraudulent purchase. The purchase in question is $500 of industrial equipment from [some company] in Ohio. Press 1 if this purchase was made by your or an authorized card holder ….” Hmm, that doesn’t sound like me.

I transfer to a customer service agent and verify the charges are fraudulent.

“Was it an internet purchase?”

“Let me check … no it appears it was keyed manually. Actually, it was keyed three times with your account number, manually. I’d recommend closing the account and opening another.”

I concur, and we do. The rep is very helpful, but there’s still nothing she can do about re-routing the charges that auto-bill this card – which is basically every company I do business with. This is my “send all recurring payments to this account” card.

After cleaning up various credit-related activities, I realize I’ve been relatively un-fazed by the events of the day. Given the circumstances, things went optimally. I can’t help but wonder if everyone was so cool and helpful with me because I was smiling and relaxed throughout, whereas I most people I’ve seen deal with such interruptions have vented their anger on the very person trying to help them. Perhaps I just woke on the right side of the bed today – or maybe it’s just the practice. Regardless, I’m still smiling, and I still think it’s a good day.

But if this website goes away, you know where my hosting bills are being charged.