Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union

For those that missed it...

President Obama called the Democrats a bunch of pussies for bitching about a nine seat majority in the Senate, he gave the Republicans a choice between coming up with some worthwhile ideas and shutting the fuck up, and he chastised the Supreme Court for RUINING OUR DEMOCRACY.

The rest was a combination of brilliant rhetoric, boring policy, and, to quote somebody very dear to me, "superfluous applause."

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Asautomatic Spending"

I'm a person that stops reading when I see an unfamiliar word. First, I look at the context clues to see if I can figure it out. If that doesn't work, I google it and find the meaning. Most of the time, I learn a new word. Sometimes, however, I'm not so lucky.

Take this article for instance. After working a full day on very little sleep, most of my cognitive processes have slowed down significantly. So much so that when I read the sentence,

"That spending spurt reflected both the first outlays from the president's $787 billion stimulus package as well asautomatic spending for unemployment compensation and food stamps that is triggered during the downturns,"

I immediately googled "asautomatic spending" to see what it meant instead of just laughing at "spending spurt" like a normal person.

It turns out that "asautomatic spending" is a technical term used on Wall Street that refers to bank dividends being subdivided by subprime mortgage lending loans...

..or it means I need to go to bed early tonight.

What do you think "Asautomatic Spending" means?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

How to: Deal with your Boss (Part 1)

Maybe you just got a phone call from your cat-sitter.

"Mr. Nibbles is sick, come home immediately!"

Maybe, like me, you needed to drive an hour and a half from your workplace to Philadelphia to catch a hockey game with your girlfriend, and that required leaving a half hour early.

Or, maybe, it's been a long week and you want to hit the crack pipe a couple hours early.

Whatever the reason, here's how you DON'T do it:

"Um, excuse me Mr. Boss, sir. Would it be okay if, maybe, I can get off a little early today? Mr. Nibbl-I mean, MY GRANDMOTHER, is really really sick."

His Anwer: "ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY, JOHNSON! We are behind quota, extra busy today, and I don't like you because your pants smell like Meow Mix! Better yet, YOU'RE FIRED!!!

Here's how you DO do it:

"Hey, boss, I'm leaving at 4:30 today."

His answer: "Okay, and?"

"Just thought I'd let you know."

"Keep up the good work. By the way, are you aware that your pants emanate the refreshing smell of my favorite cat food, Meow Mix? *sings*I like chicken, I like liver, Meow Mix Meow Mix, please DE-LIV-ER! Here's a cash bonus, drinks are on me tonight, Johnson!"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Personal Case for Health Reform

I purchased my first health insurance policy several weeks ago, and, today, the big (screw you!) packet came in the mail from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Author's Note: When three corporations merge and, with their teams of market research analysts and billions of dollars, can't come up with a better idea for their name than to just tack together the three original names (Even I could come up with /'s, Horizon/Blue Cross/Blue Shield, see how that flows?), consider that corporation evil. I'm looking at YOU Time Warner!

Anyway, here's what I learned about my health insurance policy (which will set me back $128.45/month):

Insane Fact #1- I'm not covered outside the state of New Jersey.

Let's say I'm rock climbing in Utah when a large boulder crushes my arm and I have to saw it off to survive. Instead of walking to the nearest hospital, I'd, theoretically, have to hike ALL THE WAY TO NEW JERSEY for them to reattach it and/or give me a badass gun arm.

Insane Fact #2- They can raise my premiums at any time for any reason.

And I quote:

"We have the right to prospectively change Premium rates as of any of these dates:

a) any Premium Due Date;

b) any date that the extent or nature of the risk under the Policy is changed"

Um..wait a minute. Wouldn't me getting sick or hurt change the "nature of the risk of the Policy"?

Let me get this straight. I pay $128.45 every month for 11 months, then I get Lupus. If I go to the hospital for my Lupus, they can, theoretically, raise my rates to a point where I can't afford them, then just drop me from the Policy mid-treatment?


Insane Fact #3- I can only be admitted to the hospital for 90 days per calendar year.

FADE IN. A Hospital Waiting Room. A grief stricken mother, looking sullen and tear-stained, sits next to a vending machine with "Coca-Cola" displayed prominently (where else do we get funding for this movie?). A man in a white coat holding a clip board walks up to her.

DOCTOR: Ma'am, I have some good news.

The mother looks up, a ray of hope lighting her eyes.

DOCTOR: I know that your son has been in a coma for the last 89 days, but a recent medical breakthrough will allow us to save him. We need to keep him for another three days to prepare for the tests and operation, but that shouldn't be a probl- Oh wait. Nevermind. Ma'am, why don't you go take one last look at your son, we are going to have to pull the plug.


Camera spirals outward as MOTHER drops to her knees and looks up at the sky shaking her fists. FADE OUT.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Powers of Persuasion

Tonight, I ate dinner with my parents, my little sister, Katie, and her boyfriend, Eric. We had pork chops, rice, peas, and corn. About halfway through, Katie noticed that Eric only had rice on his plate.

"What are you doing," she asked, her eyes flicking subtly upward.

"Eating," he replied.

Eric is a man of many words.

"Why aren't you eating rice or peas," she asked.

"I will," he said, "I just like eating one thing at a time."

"That's stupid," she said, turning to me an expectant look in her eye. She wanted me to side with her.

"Katie," I said, "If you want somebody to do something, you need to be more convincing. Telling somebody that they are stupid will never convert them to your cause."

She gave me an angry look.

Turning away, I said, "Eric, you might think that you only like to eat one thing at a time, but I guarantee that every chef on the Food Network would disagree with you, as one of life's real treasures is discovering new culinary combinations of flavor, texture, and color. Do yourself a favor and watch the movie Ratatouille, especially the scene where Patton Oswalt describes the beauty of mixing flavor combinations by comparing them with fireworks."

A minute later, Eric was mixing peas and corn into his rice.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Some statistics

How often do you read books?

I read (roughly) one book, cover to cover, per month. That means twelve books per year. That means, by the time I'm dead, I'll have read 900 books.

I say this because, right now, I'm reading Dune by Frank Herbert, and it's so damn captivating that it pains me to stop for a blog entry break.

So I'm going to get back to my novel. I suggest you do the same, because, when you finish whatever book you are reading, there'll be 899 more to go.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Breakfast with the Brinn's

We went to Bob Evans, a breakfast chain similar (but inferior) to IHOP, as a final send off to my little sister, who returns to Maryland to complete her Marines training this afternoon. Once again, a full family outing in which food is involved turned into an epic disaster (You can read about a similar experience here).

My dad was out in full force today. Before ordering, he had a back and forth with my mom about whether he should order a pancake or a western omelet in front of our waitress (Confusion point #1). He finally decided on a western omelet, then asked how many eggs are used to make it (The title of the omelet section on the menu is 3-Egg Omelets). She said three. He asked if they could make it with two (Confusion point #2). Then he asked if it comes with home fries (Once again, it's right there on the description in the menu). She says yes. He asks if they can put onions in the home fries (Confusion point #3).

At this point, it becomes painfully obvious that the $2.25/hour plus meager tips is not worth the effort, so when both of my sisters order a complex combination of side dishes and custom plate items, I can tell she was probably drawing a stick figure hanging itself instead of taking down our order.

Then we play the waiting game...

As the seconds turn into minutes (waiting fifteen minutes for a complicated order in a crowded restaurant on a Sunday morning! Say it isn't so!), my dad starts to grow impatient. And when my dad is impatient, he starts talking out loud, which is never a good thing.

When the food finally comes, it's predictably insufficient. The waitress forgot my sister's toast, the phantom pancake that was never ordered didn't show up ("But where's my pancake!?"), there aren't any onions in the prepackaged home fries (surprise, surprise!), and, lo and behold, the omelet has three eggs in it.

Oh yeah, and my other sister decided to order an extra side of sausage when the food arrived.

So then, when the waitress has had just enough time to walk from our table to the kitchen, my dad decides that my sister has waited long enough for her precious breakfast meats, and calls the bus boy over to repeat the order.

Then it comes, but it "tastes funny." Yes, Katie, grime from unwashed kitchen floors, saliva, and semen do taste "funny" when you combine them with greasy, partially-frozen sausage.

..The saddest part is, in the competition for "Most embarrassing thing a family member did this weekend," this entire episode is a distant second.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dr. Dumbass: or How I learned to stop remembering and love The Offspring

"Ahhhh it's time to relax, and you know what that of wine, your favorite easy chair, and, of course, this compact disc playing on your home stereo. So go on and indulge yourself, that's right, kick off your shoes, put your feet up, lean back and just enjoy the melodies. After all, music soothes even the savage beast."

This opening track to Smash by The Offspring is forever burned into my neurons. At any point in time, I can call up that guy's voice in my head. What my brain absolutely refuses to do, however, is remember to grab my dirty Tupperware from the refrigerator at work.

Last week, I forgot to bring the leftovers of my lunch home three times in a row. On Thursday, I packed three days worth of leftover lunch into a plastic bag and put it in my car. But, when I got home, I realized that I left a DVD at the office (one of my colleagues let me borrow his copy of Motorcycle Diaries). On Monday, I'll have to pretend that I took this guy's DVD home and watched it ("Oh..oh yeah, the movie. It was great! I especially liked the on the motorcycle? And that part where he wrote in his diary, MIND BLOWING!").

Why does my brain suck!?

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Knowledge of Experience

On my first day of training at the U.S. Census Bureau, our group of nine was taking a short true/false quiz on the importance of following procedure. Question #7 read, "When a test is completed, you must stand by the door to hand out the "What Happens Next" brochure to each test-taker."

Flipping back to that section of the chapter, I read, "We suggest you stand by the door to hand out the "What Happens Next" brochure to each test-taker," and circled "False" for Question #7.

The answer to Question #7 was "True," so I contested it using the following argument:

"If somebody suggests something, it means I have a choice in the matter. If I must do it, then there is no question. Therefore, the answer is "False.""

Several heads were nodding in agreement until Walter, a 65 year-old father of two and grandfather of five, stood up and said, "I've been married for 42 years. If my wife suggests that I do something, there's no question, I must do it."

I stood corrected.