Monday, June 29, 2009

Ten on Tuesday: D

1: Deliberate - I think one of the most beautiful parts of being human is a deliberate act of kindness, either ones that catches you unawares by someone else or one that you have planned for someone else. It always makes me tear up when it happens in the movies (an example is in Stranger Than Fiction when Will Ferrell's character is in love with a baker, and he brings her flours, as opposed to flowers).

2: Dog - I find that I can gauge how well I am doing as a person by how well I treat my little dog Scrabble.

3: DRW - These are my dad's, my older brother's, and his first son's initials. My grandpa's initials were DW. I think that's pretty cool.

4: Drains - Useful or not, I still think it's hilarious that people buy drain cleaners and then literally pour their purchase down the drain.

5: David Foster Wallace - There is a portion of Infinite Jest, approximately pages 17-27, that chronicles an addict waiting for a drug dealer. The way it was written perfectly describes the neurosis of somebody trying to hide something that he desperately wants coupled with the anxiety that accompanies anticipation. In this section you really know you're reading the writing of a genius.

6: Dagwood's - There used to a be a restaurant near Pismo Beach called Dagwood's, the name of which was in reference to the husband in the comic strip Blondie (per that link, that strip has been running forever! Also, there was a Blondie series of movies in the 30's and 40's. And here I thought Hollywood was having a hard time come up with new ideas nowadays). I only ever ate there once, but the place stuck in my head because you were encouraged to shoot toothpicks into the ceiling, by means of placing them in one end of your straw and then blowing forcefully into the other end. I suppose their closure is a mystery no one will ever possibly discern.

7: Ducktales - This is one of the only games I ever managed to beat on the old Nintendo Entertainment System when I was a kid. (Woo-oo).

8: Deo - Me say De-e-e-o; day light come and me want to go home.

9: Desktop - I recently gave my old desktop to Best Buy to be recycled. I got that computer right before I entered college (in the year 2000, for those keeping score at home), and it was good to me. Of course, it was woefully outdated; computing with that computer was like going to a tank fight armed only with a spear (Windows 98? 128 MB of RAM?) Nevertheless, it was surprisingly hard to get rid of. Even after I left it there, I kept asking my wife if I should go get it back somehow, perhaps by means of a courageous break-in or heist. My impulse to hoard useless things continues to surprise me, and I was definitely in a worser (sadder) mood after getting rid of it; maybe I'll end up a curmudgeon (!) after all.

10: Drama - What an interesting thing to get a degree in. Perhaps I should look into that.

Finally, and in honor of the trip I'm taking next week, here's something that makes me laugh:

A Public Service

So...the wife and I nearly got scammed on Craigslist, and I wanted to put this out on the internet so that people could maybe search and find it.

It started because we, in an effort to pare down, are trying to sell our exercise machine. It cost us a few hundred bucks, so we're trying to sell it for about that. You can imagine how excited we were to get the following email:
"Hello, I saw your posting and i seems to have found what i am looking for, I
will be purchasing this from you if its still available for sale, kindly let me
know ASAP.regards."

Sure, the guy's English is bad, but he seems to pretty assuredly want it. Right on! I wrote him back to tell him we'd be home all day Sunday so he could come back and pick it up whenever suited him. This was his response:

"Thank for the prompt response my secretary will process and mail
acertified draft to cover the cost as am completely satisfied with it.I
will need the details of whom & where to mail the payment

1.Name to be on the check

2.Home address

3.Mobile #

Please note 'United Parcel Service' do not deliver to P.O.Boxaddresses and i will not be mailing a draft to one. My mover will becoming over for the pick up right only after the payment as beendelivered and cleared. Kindly delete the posting as am totallycommitted to buyingfrom you to save cost,.. Here is my relay phone # is (210) 209-8524drop message, i will receive your phone messages via email, regards."

Hmm. This is definitely a little off-putting. However, I was still pretty stoked to unload the exercise machine. I didn't really want to send him my address, but I figured he was going to need it if his "mover" was going to come pick it up, so I sent it to him and awaited a response. Please note that Craigslist advises you never to accept checks or money orders in that they can usually be faked pretty easily, so I should have called it off right here, but I suspended my disbelief in the hopes of paring down.

Nevertheless, the guy could have probably gotten me pretty easily had he not gotten too greedy in his next email:
"I since receive the confirmation from my Secretary,that the paymentas been
issued out and was mailed by the United Parcel Service. itwill be
delivered to your address one business day from now accordingto the courier ,but
to my greatest surprise the draft was issued outfor the sum of $2425 instead of
the actual cost of my purchase .Sheclaimed that i requested for that amount to
be issued out to you butam very sure i only made a request for just the cost of
mypurchase.This is a terrible mistake and i was just informed about thisso
please once the check is delivered please take it to your Bank andhave it
cashed .

You will then deduct the cost of my purchase plus an extra $100
tooffset the cost of your run around expenses.The rest of the fundshould be sent
to my mover via western union the same day youreceive the payment so that
my mover can make the trip over for thepick up at once.

**I will need you immediate response via email assuring me that i
cantrust you to handle this with utmost care and have the remaining
fundreturned appropriately as requested and will hope that your
intentionsremains noble though out the duration of this transaction**"

Sounds pretty sweet right? Not only do I get to sell my machine, but I get an extra hundred bucks for my trouble?

As you can imagine, the alarms were really going off at this point in my head, so I headed over to the Craigslist scams page, where I was informed not to accept checks, avoid doing business through the mail, and to NEVER use Western Union, all of which he had advised me to do. So I wrote him back and told him that I would mail his check back to him, and, if he still really wanted it, he could have his "mover" come and pay me in cash.

Lessons learned:
1) When seling on Craigslist, beware of things that seem too good to be true.
2) If the language the prospective buyer is writing in sounds the same as a spam email, it's probably not reputable.
3) If the buyer doesn't even mention the item by name in the body of his emails, it's probably some sort of form letter used to scam lots of people.

In retrospect, I should have caught on earlier, but I really wanted to get rid of the darn thing. Also, I left his phone number in this post in case anybody googles it, and here's his email address and the name on his email: and jeff sandsnow (it is uncapitalized).

This is a different sort of post than I usually do, but I hope it proves useful for someone.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Last One About The Pens (Until the Next One)

I had a whole big post planned about how happy I was to get the five pounds of pens, but for several reasons I never got around to it. So, instead, I will simply post the pictures that were to accompany that post for your viewing "enjoyment." Please disregard the poor quality of the pictures (which I feel adds to the overall impressionism of the piece) as well as the rip in my shorts (which I feel adds to the overall short-sightedness of the piece).

It's a lot of pens! Get it?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ten on Tuesday: C

1: Chargers (the San Diego variety) - Some season they'll go all the way. Will it be this one? I hope so!

2: Cupcakes - My wife has an affinity for purchasing cupcakes from cupcake boutiques in downtown San Diego, and I must admit that I am growing rather fond of the little guys (not that I ever disliked them, per se). How can I not like a store that makes cupcakes for dogs?

3: Check Requests - They can be a dangerous (and melodramatic) affair.

4: Chantilly Lace - And a pretty face. And a pony tail. Hanging down.

5: Coldstone Creamery - An entirely delicious place until the guy making your ice cream coughs on it. Then it's just mostly delicious.*

6: Comedy - My cubicle neighbor is currently laughing pretty hysterically, and when he was queried as to why, he pointed at the television which is showing an Obama press conference. I guess I just don't get it.

7: Coupons - I browse deal sites on the web like crocodiles capture gazelles: swiftly and without mercy.** As an example, I got a pair of Oakleys a few days ago for a reasonable price (which is pretty unheard of as nearly everything Oakley makes is sold for an unreasonable price -- Thank you REI closeout sale!). As another example, I love taking my 40% coupons that I find into Borders and slapping it down on the counter with such force as if to say, "Hey! I am a crafty consumer!" Also, we all remember the drama of the five pounds of pens.

8: "Consider the Lobster" - This is an essay that David Foster Wallace*** (an admitted meat eater) wrote for Gourmet magazine (which concerns itself with the preparation and enjoyment of delicious food) about whether it is a morally defensible position to boil lobsters alive (which is the preferred method of cooking them). Gourmet has it posted at this link if you'd like to read it, though it is split up over ten separate web pages, which makes getting back and forth between the end notes and the essay a cumbersome affair. While I do not consider myself an animal rights activist, this essay certainly makes me consider, at the very least, if there aren't more humane ways to prepare them.

9: Connecticut - Definitely my least favorite state to prepare reports for. Their commission is unreasonable and ridiculous.

10: Curmudgeon - This is a funny word that doesn't get enough play, in my opinion. To help rectify this situation, I'll try to use it in my next five posts.

*True story. I was so grossed out, I only ate most of it.****
**That simile got a lot more violent that I intended it to.
***I am currently working on his magnum opus Infinite Jest. My interest was inspired mostly by the website The book is strange and non-linear and wonderful so far.
****It didn't help that what I ordered had both caramel sauce and fudge, both of which have a texture not so different from what people cough up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two Shorts Films About AC

1. I have a friend who comes and visits me from time to time. Usually, the time we spend together is concluded by his coming to lunch downtown on a workday, after which we head off our separate ways. On one such lunch engagement, we had eaten like Vikings minus the horns, and I suggested that we also head off to Ghirardelli's for dessert, because, really, who wants to go back to work after a heavy lunch? It's much finer to daydream and go for strolls while stuffed to the gills than it is to stare at spreadsheets.

As we started walking towards the ice cream shop, we started to think better of ourselves. We were already stuffed past contentment. My friend jokingly posed the question, "AC, how fat do I want to be?" We turned around, and headed back to the car.

2. There is a fellow who, while not being a bad guy necessarily, has fairly antithetical views from my own on the answer to life, the universe, and everything.* As luck would have it, I am around him nearly every day. As such, we converse from time to time, about current events and pop culture mostly, but I am frequently left aggravated. Here are a couple of quotes that I hope will give you an idea of his personality:

A. "The thing about football is that you're usually just rooting for the uniforms nowadays, what with the players switching teams so frequently because they only care about the money."
B. "I don't really like team sports anymore; now I'm into tennis."
C. "I'm not really impressed by the Beatles. I don't know what people see in them."

His attitude may be in earnest, but it seems to me that he likes to dislike things that are popular for the sake of being different.** Now, while I am not always a beacon of hope and light, I feel that he is driven by a pessimistic cynicism, and this cynicism kind of drags me down. That is to say, it makes me cranky; all sarcasm and no optimism makes AC a cranky boy. It's gotten to the point that I secretly despise how he eats his yogurt (why does he fill it so full?), which, I'm sure you'll all agree, is an absolutely unreasonable reaction.

I am fairly surprised at this mindset I have developed. I am generally a pretty even-keel, go with the flow sort of person, so I look with some wonder upon my mindset.

As I ruminated on this this afternoon, I remembered that first story, and I had to ask myself, "AC, how cranky do I want to be?" The answer is not at all.

Now I've just got to figure out how to walk away.

*I say it's 42.
**This is a fault I also see in myself from time to time. Maybe that's why it bugs me so much.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ten on Tuesday: B

I saw some friends doing this last week, and I think I'll join in (now that we're past that scary letter A).

1: Barbecue - In fifth grade, this word was marked wrong on my spelling test, so I went up to ask the teacher about it. I had spelled it "barbeque" because, really, nearly every sign advertising barbecues has it spelled like that. Instead of answering me directly, she loudly proclaimed, "MAKE SURE TO CHECK THE BOOK BEFORE ASKING ME ABOUT A MISSPELLED WORD." And that was the last time I ever asked a question.

Also, my home town has delicious weekly barbecues, and I, through their seasoning, am working to become a master griller. Or Grill Master. Or Grandmaster Grill. Or G-Rill.

2: Bloomsday - Today, June 16, is the day that the events of the novel Ulysses take place. I haven't read it yet, but I did purchase a beautiful copy from this little used book store in Australia called Brian's Books. Step one, check.

3: Beat Poetry - Ginsburg's Howl was one of my first experiences away from standard, rhymed poetry, and it had a definite influence on my own poetry (in that, it encouraged me to write some). I still don't know what most of it means. Take that, culture!

4: Belief - The difference between knowing and believing is both subtle and beautiful.

5: Beauty - Keats says that all we need to know on earth is that beauty and truth are synonyms. While I don't know if I would go that far, I will say that those lines encourage me towards a career in the arts.

6: Bonsai - I bought my grampa a Bonsai tree for his birthday, and it sounds like he loved it. Many of you may have someone on your gift-receiving list like my grampa, ie, someone who doesn't really want or need anything. It is especially pleasing to give these people a gift they enjoy.

7: Bokonon - He is the founder of a religion in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle. I consider Vonnegut foundational in the development of my own adsurdist sense of humor, and this character certainly helped that along.

8: Bride - I am pretty dang fortunate in this department.

9: Bones - This television show, which I had never seen prior to few weeks ago (to the point that I thought the guy's nickname was Bones), is fast becoming a favorite in our household.

10: Botany - As has been evidenced on number nine as well as many other places, whenever a fictional character is into botany or taking care of plants, you know he has a sinister back story.

And, for good measure, 11: Birthday - Today is my little bro's birthday. Happy day!

Monday, June 15, 2009

And Every Time a Book Is Late, They Kill a Kitten

As I mentioned, I am taking an online literature class for fun. I chose this specific class because I figured I could get just about any book I needed from the public library, and, so far, I have been successful in this. However, the library conspires against me. Please notice the hours they're open throughout the week (at the Mission Valley branch near my home [nearly every library has different hours]):

Sun: 1 - 5
Mon: 12:30 - 8
Tue: 9:30 - 5:30
Wed: 12:30 - 8
Thu: 9:30 - 5:30
Fri: 12:30 - 5:30
Sat: 9:30 - 2:30

FOR WHOM IS THIS A CONVENIENT SCHEDULE?! How did they even choose these hours? Did somebody throw darts at possible hours of operation? Or did they send a survey to people who like to read early in the morning on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, but who like to take a more laid back approach to reading on other days?

You know what would have been a better schedule? Anything with a consistent closing time would have been better. Though it's not especially out of my way to go, it is irritating to show up to a closed library when I'm jonesin' for some fine literature. Don't they know I need my fix?

End of diatribe.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Final Destination?

So the missus and I are off to San Antonio for a second wedding for some friends. They are getting married to each other, again, though they have already been married in California. But you know what they say: "You're not really married until you've gotten married in more than one state."* And I say bully for them!

In planning our trip, we got a pretty good deal on our hotel. It's a four-star, swanky place for a reasonable price. So I signed up for it and went on my merry way, only to be met with wide eyes from my friends from Texas when I told them where we were staying.

It turns out our hotel, the Emily Morgan Hotel, is incredibly haunted. The building was formerly a hospital, and it dates back to the Alamo.

So. That will be fun. No wonder we got a good price. I hope the rooms at least come with a nightgown and night cap to wear, and a candlestick to shake as I search for answers down dark hallways.

*It's technically just a ceremony for their friends and family, not an actual new marriage.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Other Odor Order

As I brushed my teeth this morning, I looked over into my medicine cabinet, and noticed my Tom's of Maine deodorant. In case you're not familiar with the brand, Tom's of Maine is kind of the hippie-druggie uncle of the toiletry community. If you want to put them to the test, I recommend that you try their "natural" toothpaste that doesn't foam; I guarantee that that will be one of the grossest experiences of your life.

I think my prejudices and preconceived notions against the company (though their deodorant is fine) were playing against me when I looked over at my medicine cabinet, because I saw a tag line on the deodorant that said something to the effect of "Made with hope to help quell bacteria."

I almost didn't give it a second glance because that seemed exactly like how I would imagine Tom's of Maine would advertise their products. However, my incredulity got the better of me, and I saw that it said "hops," not "hope."

Ah, Tom's of Maine! Only you could produce deodorant that one could, with a little help from barley and fermentation, turn into beer.

Monday, June 08, 2009


As I went through the usual suspects (websites that I go to nearly every day), I came across this link which led me to a website called "Pick the Perp." It shows you five mugshots, and it tells you a crime that one of these people committed (though all of the people shown committed some crime or other, as the site claims that it got these pictures from publicly accessible sections of law enforcement websites). My job is to choose which person I think did it.

The first crime listed is grand theft auto. I look into the blood-shot eyes of these people; I view their foreheads, ridged with wrinkles; I see gray hair on people whose bodies look much older than they likely are. They all look like they've had a rough time in life.

And my job is to guess which of them has been caught stealing a car.

What does a car thief look like? Is it the gruff young man? Is it the middle-aged woman with the snarling grin?

My mind drifts to another website, the Interview Project, which has conducted over a hundred short interviews with people met by the side of the road as the camera crew traverses these United States. I remember the interview with a man whose girlfriend had killed a man in self-defense, and this man, in a grim effort to help out, had gotten in trouble for "burial without a permit." He is on parole, and can't leave the state (or see the "love of his life") for a few more months. He can't wait for the time to pass so that he can be with her, and move up to Montana so that they can be away from everything and everyone, to live a life on anonymity I think how unlikely I am to ever be in his situation.

What does a man who buries without a permit look like? Like this man, apparently.

I am reminded of an idea from Sunday school, that when you point your finger at someone, you've got four fingers pointing back at yourself.

I click through a few rounds. Is the soccer mom the heroin possessor, or is it the teenage girl who glances away from the camera? Which of these five, sad faces tried to run from the police? After only a few more rounds, I have to close out of it. I feel unsettled, my pulse runs a bit faster. I am disquieted; I am anonymously singled-out. Much like they are.

What does a man look like who, without sin, is throwing a stone? I have yet to see.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

In Response to the Last One, or a Reminder to Get Over Yourself

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide;
"Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or His own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."

-John Milton

Friday, June 05, 2009

ID 200049651, or Who Even Likes Ohio?

I auditioned in January. I was told that I was definitely wanted. I filled out my application in early February, in order to make sure I was within the original time frame of when I was told I could be accepted.

As I checked the online portal to view my application status, in continually read "Evaluation." I checked every day in February. The original time frame closed. But still, I was under "Evaluation."

Every day in March.

Half way through April, I wrote an email, asking about the status. Surely other students had been accepted, right? They should know one way or the other on me, right? I received an email back that said they were still working on it, and I should know by May 1 one way or the other.

Every day in April, and nothing on May 1.

In early May, I got some other great news, but I still held out hope for this program. I had auditioned well, people had been excited with me. This was the training that I wanted most of all. The training I had built up my resume to receive. The training I believed I was good enough for.

After May 1, I stopped checking every day. After all that time, I couldn't really believe I still had a shot, but not knowing with certainty is a cruel mistress.

"Hope is the confusion of the desire for a thing with its probability." - Schopenhauer.

Today I log in. There is no, "Evaluation." Instead, I am "Reviewed." "Your application for admission was not approved. You will be informed of the decision by mail. "

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." - Hebrews 11:1

I turn around in my desk chair and look over the little view I have of the harbor. The flag was full, the wind still blew.

Like the ant who screamed "I'm significant!", I hoped for more.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Yesterday, I went to my cousin-in-law's graduation from high school, which was held up in Escondido at the Performing Arts Center. He graduated from a charter school that is actually a conglomeration of several very small private schools as well as a good number of home-schooled students.

The place was pretty crowded, as these events tend to be, so we had to go up to the second balcony to find empty seats as the event was starting as we were getting there. After we sat down, other people asked to pass by us to find their own empty seats.

One man, after he passed us, stopped for a second, looked at me, and said, "Hey! Aren't you A.C.?"*

As I frantically racked my brain to remember who this gentleman was, I replied with a quizzical smile on my face, "Yeah?"

He smiled broadly and said, "A.C.! From the cruise!"

I suppose it isn't unreasonable that most of the people on a three day cruise that departs from San Diego are from the San Diego area, but it was pretty surprising to be recognized up in Escondido. I guess my fame is growing, slowly but surely.

Fortunately for my poor cousin-in-law, the man didn't ask me if I was the guy from the hairy chest contest, so I was able to leave my shirt on throughout the entire ceremony.**

*The man used my real name when he recognized me. If you can imagine, I am an even more minor internet celebrity than I am a minor cruise celebrity.
**When I got to the car after the graduation, however, the shirt came off. It was a hot day, and that's how I roll in the Camry.***
***Totally joking.****
****Or am I?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Shout-Out

Awful Library Books provides pictures of, and some commentary on, library books that, well, shouldn't really be in libraries. Many of the books are just plain outdated, but sometimes you can't believe that these books were ever written in the first place (like the one above [I can only assume this book has chapters like, "Hit Me Again, Pop, and This Time Put Some Stank on It"*]).

Check it out when you have a chance. It's pretty great.

*Hmm...I'm not sure where I stand on the child abuse joke. I'll leave it because I've already typed it and the backspace key is WAY over at the top right of the keyboard, but I'm not happy about it.

Monday, June 01, 2009

What I Learned About Cruising

I took a lovely cruise with my beautiful wife this past weekend. We were originally supposed to have gone to Ensenada, but, without a real explanation, we instead went to Catalina Island. The assumption is that this was due to the global pandemic that is the swine flu (remember the swine flu? You might remember it as the disease that CNN was apparently terrified of as it was the only thing they seemed to talk about for weeks). Here are the lessons that I learned.

1) You are limited only by your modesty and natural body limits as to the total amount of food you may consume. My modesty is not great as we shall see shortly.
2) If you win second place in the blackjack tournament, as opposed to the $500 you would have received for first place, you will receive an extra-small polo shirt and a change purse. Though the thought of yourself in an XS polo shirt is something pretty hilarious to the lay-person, as I am an XXL male who already has his own preferred change purse, thankyouverymuch, these items will be useless to you, and you will leave them behind.
3) If you win other contests on board, you will receive a small trophy that has a likeness of the ship you were on. The judges of these contests will refer to these trophies as "ships on a stick," in an effort to pull you into their crude double entendre.
4) You will think it would be funny to compete in the "Men's Hairy Chest Contest," as you assume you will only be shirtless briefly. When the contest starts and you realize that you have to parade shirtless down a flight of stairs by the pool, around the pool, up the stairs to the water slide, down the water slide, out of the pool, and in front of the female judges, all to the song "She's a Brick House," the humor of the activity will be severely lessened.
5) If you are one of the two finalists in this contest, you will be advised to "Shake what your mother gave you" while Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" plays over the PA system. As you are contestant number 2, you will feel obligated to out-do finalist number 1 in this endeavor, which will result in shaking equal to Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies" style proportions.
6) When you win this contest, you will realize that all of your dreams in life have come true, until you are told, as a condition of your victory, that if anybody for the rest of the cruise says to you "Hey, aren't you the hairy chest guy?" that you required to rip off your shirt and yell, "Oh yeah!"
7) People will come up to you for the rest of the cruise and get you to take your shirt off. This will be perplexing to you, because you would think that if people knew how to get you to take your shirt off, they would go out of their way to avoid doing so.
8) With little to no modesty left, let's just say that the buffet will cry after you are done with it.