Goulash is going to be a little more half-assed than usual for the next few weeks. I've got a few deadlines at work, school is getting tough, and on top of it all, I'm in defensive driving. Does that qualify me for a Nobel Prize? Probably not, but I wouldn't exclude it totally.
Now that I've been out of school for a few years now, I'm always tempted to go back and really solidify my credentials as a fancy pants. Every two years or so, I actually do enroll in a class and attempt to become Dr. Cody Powell. For the first month or so, I like thinking about weighty matters and learning all of this esoteric stuff. Then, the class starts to demand things from me, and I reach the point where I'm emailing the registrar and asking, "If I quit now, I can still keep my bachelor's degree, right? Come on, we're bros."
I was a good, albeit lazy, student in college, and initially, I didn't understand why that didn't translate to success in graduate school. I've got it now, though: the real world has poisoned me against education.
When I was in college, I learned all of this stuff about medieval European history, eigenvectors, and antitrust laws because I thought that maybe I'd need it at some point in the future. It didn't seem likely, but then I hadn't had a real job so I couldn't discount the possibility completely. For all I knew, when you clocked in at 8 AM every morning, you had an hour worth of linear algebra problems, regardless of your rank in the company. You exchanged papers at 9 AM and God help you if you forgot to show your work.
Now that I've have a real job for years now, I can declare that most of my education was like a personal jet pack: cool, but not very useful. The hard stuff at a job was the easy stuff in school: things like writing reports, working in a group, staying on task. What about the hard academic stuff? Well, I don't think it has a place in most jobs. Sure, it's interesting and fun to learn about, and those are both very good reasons to study such things. But in the real world, you're probably more likely to succeed by helping people disable the little paper clip guy in Word than by handing in 20 page papers about TS Eliot. That's not so bad. (Potential PhD dissertation: the little paper clip guy in Word as a manifestation of the id in TS Eliot?)
I'm writing this specifically so that I can turn it into toilet paper rolls. Then, in 2008 when I'm sitting in the bathroom, thinking, "I should go take a class or something," the toilet paper will remind me what's in store. (Didn't I say I was going to be half-assing this stuff? I disgust myself.)
I have to take defensive driving due to a recent speeding ticket. I will not, however, have to watch a comedian crack jokes about car seats down at Shoney's. Nope, I'm doing the whole thing at home, via the internet. As that is the case, I have decided to document the journey to safer driving.
The video has two hosts, a guy and a lady. The guy is clearly excited to be on my TV. I think he's creeping the lady out; she keeps looking away from the camera while she speaks. I bet he's making some sort of lewd gesture, demanding that she cede her airtime.
Top 2 causes of fatal crashes: speeding drivers and drunk drivers. Those are dangerous, I agree. However, just think how much deadlier the roads would be if our cars had turtle shell projectiles, like in Mario Cart. I'd sit at home and pray for mercy.
One tenth of all traffic fatalities occur in Texas, but we're only responsible for one twentieth of the nationwide property damage due to wrecks. Texas's new state motto: we are dangerous and poor.
Question for anyone who's ever appeared in a reenactment in one of these videos: in the acting food chain, is being in a driver's ed video better or worse than porn? I'm going to say better, although it depends on who is in the porn.
Here's the kind of keen questioning for which I'm paying $40: "What's the difference between being sleepy and being fatigued?"
If you worry about going to sleep at the wheel, they mention caffeine as a short term solution. Then, the camera zooms in on a guy at a coffee machine. The pot has a label on it. What is it? Probably something really laden with caffeine, like espresso or cappucino. Oh wait, the label reads, "Gourmet Decaf".
I'm 50% certain that the leading man has a glass eye. Now that I look, I think both eyes are glass. Why is a no-eyed man teaching me about traffic safety?
A police officer's talking about the risks of driving while on drugs. The officer asks, "Do you want to give up your ability to go to Disneyland?" Stern punishment indeed.
Aaaaaaaaaand I passed the test, so I'm on to section 2. Maybe I'll do more tomorrow.
Thanksgiving is over and I am back home. Notable:
1. I ate lots of good stuff. Highlights include sweet potato pie, beef wellington, and this astounding buffalo wing dip. It's really hard to describe that dip, except to say that I'd be completely in favor of a Martian invasion if they promised to dispense the buffalo wing dip from my kitchen faucet. Holy macaroni.
2. I saw my family, most of my friends, and numerous strangers.
3. I played some Blueball. I don't think I really need to share the results, as Team Awesome never loses. That is, we never lose the game itself; everyone loses big time when it comes to physical well-being. I'm pretty sure my shoulder got torn out and replaced with a hunk of imitation crab meat.
4. I got loads of time with the Nintendo Wii. There's something special about a gaming console that inspires the whole family to talk trash for days with its built-in bowling game.
5. I also learned that I'm not the type of guy who'll just roll over and let a 9 year-old girl win at a video game. I'm pretty sure that's the opposite of what society wants, but it just feels right.
6. When I was driving back to Austin yesterday, I was at a standstill on I-35 for about an hour. The whole time I was stopped, I thought to myself, "If this is going to happen, I demand to see something cool." When I finally got to the source of the traffic woes, I found that cool something: a Tropicana semi had jack-knifed on the road, spewing jugs of orange juice all over both sides of the road. Well done, reality!
Thanksgiving is here! I like that for a few reasons.
1. Thanksgiving is the only week of the year where you can legitimately eat pumpkin pie for breakfast. (I think this is a sad commentary on America's pie-hating ways.)
2. Turkeys are the ugliest animals in the world, and, in my humble opinion, deserve to die. I must say, I'm a little startled to type that, but I really believe it. How does a population that ugly sustain itself? My guess: turkeys get hammered before they mate.
3. A few years back, a relative of mine (who shall go nameless) had a little too much vino over Thanksgiving and started referring to my grandmother's dachsaund as Santa Claus. This is not entirely out of the ordinary with my family.
4. I also like that Thanksgiving doesn't have a mascot, like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Hannukah Platypus. If a holiday has a mascot, it's trying too hard to impress me.
5. Thanksgiving also has a good origin: we celebrate the one unpoisoned meal that white people gave to the native americans.
Okay, those are my five reasons. Expect my updates to be sporadic until the holiday is over. Let me make that clearer: don't delay your Thanksgiving dinner for a Goulash update. You can certainly delay your Christmas festivities for it, but Thanksgiving is a different story.
Think notable feuds. Think Hitler versus Churchill, MacEnroe versus Borg, Wyle E. Coyote versus the Roadrunner. I have a new one for the list: Powell versus Time Warner Cable.
I have a lot of sympathy for India's untouchable caste, and that's largely because in the cable company's eyes, I'm part of it. I'm down there with the mud people. Not only is the service is crappy, but I think they've taken to the level where the actual employees hate me. I expect to wake up tomorrow morning to find manure all over my yard, and to learn that Time Warner employees, in their free time, spread it out there. Not only that, but they didn't even expense the manure. They chipped in and bought it with their own funds! They did it just to stick it to me. Why? I don't know.
A rational person might suggest, "Hey, why don't you stop paying these people an exorbitant amount of money and find another provider?" That is a valid question, and I can only respond in an analogy. Imagine that everyone you know is raving about this new Greek place, and you hit it up one day at lunch. Midway through your meal, you get up to go to the bathroom. In there, while washing your hands, you're mauled by a puma. Now, once you're healed, aren't you slightly interested in going back to that place and seeing what'll happen? After all, everyone else gets good service; they don't get mauled by the puma. In my case, not only am I still interested, but I go back to the Greek place several times a night. I keep telling myself, "This experience is NOT representative," and I keep getting mauled by the damn puma. In case you wonder why I don't post some nights, visualize the puma.
Okay, I have to make a pecan pie for work tomorrow so I must leave. Avast, mateys.
Recently in Wired, I read about something called six word stories. These are stories that contain only six words, and they're a lot of fun to read. After reading that, I saw Brendan mention them and I figured I too must get in on this trend. Following are a few six word stories that I created this evening:
"Martha, these are NOT monkey brains!"
Christmas Eve: Santa finds dead elves.
Knock knock. Who's there? Angry robots!
Wanted: telegenic leprechaun with strong chin.
Toaster feuds with bread; breakfast ruined.
Invented time machine, accidentally married Hitler.
Large footprints in driveway. Sasquatch lurks?
Okay, that's about all I've got on this subject. Those are surprisingly difficult to write, much harder than haikus.
I would like to note that my mom called me this morning at work to ask me if I knew bookie. Why did she need a bookie? She wanted to bet that Emmitt Smith would win Dancing with the Stars. I think this is a great sign for society.
Friends, the first time you doubt the Idalou Wildcats will also be your last time, because they are some bad ass dudes. Post High School made that mistake Friday evening, and I was fortunate to witness the resulting bloodbath. Turkey Leg, official cousin of mine, sounded his war gobble, attacking Post from both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Just when they thought he was taking a break, he came in as the long snapper. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that he also called all of the plays for Idalou, and then worked a shift as the cashier at the snack stand during half time.
Now Idalou is in the playoffs, and the rest of Texas should start quaking in its booties. The Wildcats are fast, strong, crazy, cagey, ambidextrous, and obstreperous. They also have a mighty turkey leg with which they'll club you many, many times. Don't say you haven't been warned.
Okay, what else happened? Well, I went to Hound Dog's wedding and danced my Spanish pantalones off. What is it about alcohol that makes people want to dance? Does it make you want to do other physical activities, such as wallpapering and playing bombardment? Maybe if you got them drunk, handed them the wallpaper, and then started playing Bon Jovi. I'd love to ruminate for a few hundred words on this phenomenon, but I have mucho school work to do so I'll smell you cats later.
Here's a betting tip for you: if you know any bookies who accept bets on West Texas high school football, bet the house on Idalou in the Idalou vs. Post showdown tomorrow night. I say that with confidence because I'm going to freakin' be there, cheering the Wildcats wildly as they stomp mudholes left and right in the asses of the opposition.
Allow me to explain. My cousin Bryan is on the Idalou team, and Idalou vs. Post is the big rivalry in those towns. As an adopted Idalouian, I'm attending. I plan to bring with me several profane posters that forecast Post's doom, as well as a falcon that's been trained to attack Post's head coach. I'm saving the falcon for the fourth quarter. If I can slip it by the security guards at the airport, I'll also have a book of secret plays that I will only share with the Idalou Wildcats; they're written in crayola, most every page is caked with glitter, and some involve positions that haven't yet been invented, like Triangleback and Tacklemonster. It's this kind of attention to detail that will characterize our victory tomorrow night.
I'm trying to think now what else I'll need. I'm thinking now that I might need a cup too, just in case they need me to play QB in an emergency situation. "Go deep and break out an umbrella, guys, because it's about to start raining touchdowns," I'll tell them.
Bryan is affectionately known as Turkey Leg, and this is one of his last high school games, unless he gets kicked in the head by a mule and forgets how to read between now and graduation. People sitting near me: I expect you all to chant "MAKE EM BEG, TURKEY LEG" with me. Idalou will win, Post will cower, and I might end up in jail: that's the way rivalries work.
Congratulations, Democrats: it's now your time to screw up the country. If you're smart, and I mean supercomputer intelligent, the first thing you'll do is send every voter in the USA a pizza. I don't mean some crappy, cardboard-stiff, freezer-burned Tony's, but something good. Give the voter a choice of crust, and perhaps multiple toppings. This will cost billions, but you needn't worry; these babies will pay off during each Democrat's first debate in 2008.
Republican: Ladies and gentlemen, my opponent has done absolutely nothing productive during his time in Congress.
Democrat: Oh really? Is that right? I happen to have a picture of you from November 9, 2006. You're answering your front door, and who's that you're talking to? It's the pizza man; someone surprised you with free pizza! Look at the smile on your face.
Democrat, cont'd: Well you know who was in charge of Operation Pizza Party? That's right, this guy right here. I arranged for your pizza and a million others, and you're a damn liar if you can stand here and assert that you didn't enjoy it. That beaming smile was duplicated across every residence in this nation. I organized perhaps the happiest day in United States history, and you have the gall to tell these people that I'm unproductive. Let me tell you something: after I mop the floor with you this November and buy more pizza for everyone in my district, you're not getting anything, not even the left-over crusts! This debate is over!
I do think it's good that the Democrats took control of Congress. Hopefully they will use this opportunity to do something worthwhile, something that might instill a little faith in the political process. Failing that, I really hope they go for the pizza thing.
Good news, USA: the vote has been rocked, and I contributed to the rocking.
As I've mentioned before, my polling place is the local retirement home. I like this because nothing gets me excited about democracy quite like the crinkle of adult diapers. I think, "If I cast my vote wisely, then I can be imprisoned in something like this one day." (Casting poorly means I'll probably get hunted for sport by the New Whig Party of 2142.) It adds some gravity to the electoral process.
At my polling place (and every other, I suspect), you can get a sticker after you vote. The sticker says, "I Voted". I always get my sticker and wear it proudly for the rest of the day, but this afternoon, I only saw one other person wearing something similar. Either Americans aren't voting or we hate stickers. The first option is completely expected, the second is a little terrifying. We differ on our ideas about taxation, abortion, and homosexuals, but damn it, this is a sticker-loving country. I pray that this is only a publicity problem, and that if people knew about these stickers, turn-out would triple.
Sadly, the sticker isn't a scratch-and-sniff. Just imagine if it were. You get your sticker, you give it a scratch, and then for the rest of the day, you smell like Teddy Roosevelt. (He was a big taxidermist, so that might not be such a good idea.) "What is that? It smells like a rotting coyote," your cubicle mate might say. "Oh does it?" You reply. "I smell nothing but democracy, baby."
Citizens of the USA, let's vote! From what I've read, it seems that the Democrats are poised to retake the House of Representatives and perhaps the Senate. Boy, am I relieved to hear that! Goodbye war, poverty, taxation, racism, humidity, hangnails, fat people, bananas that brown too quickly, and flatulence!
I think I beat this drum a little too frequently here, but I strongly believe that all current political parties are equally worthless. Arguing about political parties is like arguing about bears. Some people like grizzlies and some prefer black bears, but no matter which bear you pick, it'd still gobble you up if given the opportunity.
In fact, I believe that voting itself is an irrational act. How many elections, at a city-level or higher in the USA, have been decided by one vote? My scientific, wild-ass guess is 30. And how many votes have been cast through all of the elections in US history? My scientific, wild-ass guess says 3 billion. Going by that, I am statistically more likely to marry Sasquatch tomorrow than I am to cast a vote that decides an election. If I stay home tomorrow, the results won't be any different; the same candidates will win regardless of what I do. The only difference is that Sasquatch will know where to find me. (Perhaps I should vote just to throw him off of my tracks.)
While I'm convinced that it won't make a difference, I'll still vote tomorrow. It's not because I like the candidates or I feel strongly about school bonds, but because I like to complain. I'll research the candidates, find the best one for each race, and then when he or she screws me over, I can shake my fist and say, "But I voted for you, you hornswoggler!" It'll be an unlimited reserve of righteous indignation for me.
If, on account of gross incompetence, the politician does something decent for me, that'll be nice too. Neither Sasquatch nor I will count on that, however.
If I had a business, I'd run it just like Time Warner Cable. If we're running a little short on funds, I'll bill people twice. If someone is having a problem with their service, I'll route their call to an Zulu bushman who spits at the phone and casts a spell at them. And if we're hungover after appletini night at the bar, we'll just shut our routers down and tell our customers to cram it with walnuts. Given the state of my internet service lately, those boys have been on one hell of a bender.
One of the bad things about big business is that they're not really scared of an individual customer. If I ran into the Time Warner lobby and screamed the previous paragraph, I wouldn't hear a collective gasp, followed by, "Oh Mr. Powell, allow us to fix it!" I wouldn't even hear someone say, "We're working on it." Instead, I'd hear the receptionist whisper into the phone, "Security, we have an issue." And then when I got home, I wouldn't have pay-per-view access anymore.
I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. Just go into a bar one day and loudly state, "You know who's great? Time Warner." That place would immediately turn into the bar from Roadhouse, pre-Swayze. There's just no way to listen to a blatant lie like that without throwing a chair.
What do we do, citizens of the world? Right now, I'm leaning towards starting an Internet of my own. We won't have many sites, email accounts, or search engines, but we will have a kicking repository of Octopussy pics. That's probably where internet use is headed, anyway.