: earth to neptune :

November 19, 2014 § 2 Comments

Clouds-of-NeptuneThis is Neptune. It’s a lovely blue color. The average temperature hovers around -200º Celsius and it’s 2.8 billion miles from the Sun. Brrr.

graphic

iciclesThis is Earth. I’m a lovely blue color and I’m flipping f-f-f-f-freezing, man.

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astronaut

: mr. monk was right :

November 17, 2014 § 7 Comments

The world, and especially your office building, is a germ-infested cesspool. You can’t see them or smell them, but they’re there. Waiting to pounce. So I feel it’s my duty to caution you: don’t touch anything. Put your hands in your pockets and leave them there.

monk

Seriously. A new study revealed a virus can spread from a single doorknob to roughly half the people and surfaces in a building within a few hours. Hours, boys and girls. Those varmints are fast. And the area most teeming with germs isn’t the bathroom, as you might suspect. It’s the break room. Makes sense, though.

People don’t linger in communal bathrooms. They dash in, take care of business, and dash out. Bunches of us, in fact, flush the toilet with a foot rather than our hands. We use a paper towel to grab the door handle. We operate the hand dryer with an elbow. All perfectly understandable, commendable behavior, because who in their right mind wants to handle stuff in a public bathroom?

Break rooms don’t have the same stigma. No one thinks twice about picking up the coffee pot or opening the refrigerator or flipping on the lights and that, my friends, is where the danger lurks. Danger and about nine zillion germs — common use items are crawling with all sorts of bacteria and spores and microbes and other germy unpleasantness.

Say you pour a cup of coffee, sit down, and moments later touch your face. Well, next thing you know? Ah-choo. Where did you go wrong? Touching your face; it’s a health hazard. You pick up a germ with your hand, your hand touches your face, your face speeds it into your system, and you wind up spending your sick days being sick.

Is that what you want?

Then wash your damn hands and use disinfecting wipes with quaternary ammonium compounds (QUATS) — the combination will reduce virus spread by 80 to 99 percent. So see? Mr. Monk knew what he was obsessing about. Disinfecting wipes are essential in this day of computer keyboards and push plates and the like — keep them close at hand. (No pun intended.)

And, by the same token, stay away from all-you-can-eat buffets. That’s not a sneeze guard; it’s a welcome mat for the Black Death.

handwashing

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: more farewells and adioses :

November 10, 2014 § 18 Comments

We just did this, didn’t we? Damn, I hate repeating myself, but I have a new calamity: my car was totaled. I’m not joking. Not 24-hours after leaving my crummy job, we crashed with a capital C-R-A-S-H. The poor old clunker’s headed for the big parking lot in the sky.

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Tell me; is there a target on my back? Seriously, whose crosshairs am I in? I literally have nothing left to lose here. Nothing. I’ve been picked clean.

My car is sitting in storage waiting for its fate to be sealed. The insurance company says there’s virtually no hope of repair. It’s simply a matter of gathering reports and photographing damage and signing documents. That’s what it always comes down to — legalities.

The adjuster told me to get everything out of it, including the license plates, because the car’s destined for a salvage yard. Okay, watch your mouth, Bub. That’s my car. It wasn’t salvage or junk, it was a refuge. It was freedom. And it was seven payments short of being paid off. That’s what really chaps my ass. I was this close, thi-i-i-s close to no car payments. Now? Square one.

Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt and the accident wasn’t my fault. I was just there, doing 40 or thereabouts, when a dude flew out in front of me. Actually, he was motioned into traffic by some clown who fled the scene. I had, tops, thirty feet to stop. On wet pavement. Needless to say, I couldn’t. I hit him like a train.

So, for a brief time, mine was the life of a pinball; I ricocheted from pillar to post. My noggin made a beeline for the rearview mirror, my knees headed for the dashboard, other stuff went for the steering wheel and the gear shift. Outside, metal shrieked, the headlights exploded in splinters, and car parts skidded on the road. It was straight out of the Bourne Supremacy, minus the tunnel.brussels sprout_trimmedBeing a temptress of fate, I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and my airbag didn’t deploy. The other guy’s did, but mine? No. So I have two knees the size and color of eggplants, bruised shoulders, and a knot on my head like a Brussels sprout. (Do I have a vitamin deficiency or something, what’s with the vegetable references?) The other guy was okay; he didn’t limp or swell.

Two kind witnesses stuck around until police arrived — 40 cold, wet minutes later. They stood in rainy, windy, 35º weather and did their level best to distract me with small talk and reassuring smiles when they could have been warm and dry in their own cars, on their way to wherever they’d been going. People like that deserve more than thanks. If I knew last names I’d send gift cards. Or a bag of $10s.

In the end, I was ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt. I asked the cop how in the world he could know that and he pointed at the rearview mirror. It was webbed with cracks and a tuft of my hair. D’oh. If I’d pulled the hair out I could’ve saved $60. The broken mirror carries a harsher penalty — seven more years’ bad luck.

The witnesses kept telling me, ‘oh, you’re so lucky’. And you know what? They’re right. I’m chockablock with luck; I stink of luck. And now I have a fresh 7-year supply.

Yay.

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: farewells and adioses :

November 5, 2014 § 20 Comments

Boy, I’m glad that’s over. October, I mean.

farewellThe days grow shorter and cooler, but they’re also tinged with sadness. What other month does that, makes us sad? None. November is a Trojan horse; you don’t know what’s in store. December through February are tests of endurance, pure and simple. March and April bring the welcome, soggy relief called springtime. But May, aah, it’s a glory to behold. Ditto for the summer months.

October, though, pulls the rug out from under you. It triggers a wistfulness I can’t explain and don’t understand. All I know is the world turns topsy-turvy. Life goes from shorts and flip-flops to a jacket and corduroys almost overnight. The air grows still and hushed. And I wind up discombobulated, totally lost and forlorn.

But you know what? I’m walloped with the exact same sadness when I watch To Kill a Mockingbird. Now, I’m not from Alabama or the Depression era, my father wasn’t Gregory Peck, nor was I the ham in a school play. But I’m sad and homesick after I watch that movie. The fact I’m at home is irrelevant, apparently. So what’s the deal?

Well, I think I miss being a kid. I miss the boundless enthusiasm and the sense of wonder and the endless curiosity. I miss having a lap to crawl into and being loved so fiercely. I miss having my big worry be getting caught running with scissors. Most of all, I miss having the freedom and courage to follow my heart.

So this morning I did that, I followed my heart; I walked off my job. I say ‘job’, but it was more like work release. I was scrutinized and monitored and evaluated and written up and reviewed daily — for a minimum wage job stuffing envelopes. I didn’t commit a felony, I didn’t work for the NSA, I stuffed envelopes. Past tense.

My misdeed? Drinking coffee. That was secretly added to a long list banning music and bluetooth devices and cellphones and earphones, you’re not to talk to co-workers or wear a hood or use that door or walk there or think for yourself. Prisons are more freewheeling.

So I stood up, grabbed my coffee, and said, ‘Why don’t I just go?’ And I went. I’m, at last, breathing the air of freedom. I can walk with my head up, for the moment at least.

Wish me luck in my new job search. Oy.

the queen

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: boooooo :

October 31, 2014 § 4 Comments

bat

There’s nothing spooky about Halloween Day, right? Creepy doesn’t happen during daylight hours. There aren’t any ghosts afoot, or bats on the wing, no hook hands hanging from car doors. That’s after dark stuff.

So I felt fairly safe when I got up this morning. Work was a frightening prospect, of course, but no worse than usual. I shuffled into the bathroom, turned on the light, and there it was. An Undead. Staring straight at me with puffy, bloodshot eyes. Crazy hair shooting off in all directions, in defiance of gravity. It was a horrible, terrifying moment. I screamed. It screamed. I ducked. It ducked.

Oh, crap, that’s the mirror. And morning me’s gruesome reflection. Please pardon the screaming. Carry on.

And have a happy Halloween.

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: half-baked IX :

October 28, 2014 Comments Off

We’re ba-a-a-ack! With an all-new, all-fabulous ninth edition of half-baked, the half-assed post.

nine

For you newbies, this is a look at the offbeat stuff I find trawling the Internet. Unusual, quirky things I’d buy if I had the money. Everything from books to shower curtains to lamps  — if it’s fun, it’ll pop up on half-baked. Sooner or later  — most likely later.

See, I’m not much of a trendsetter. Spotting the next fad or fashion craze is an instinct I just don’t have. And I’m worse as a follower — hooboy, there’s a disaster. I’m good at drifting, though. I’m a natural at stumbling into the unexpected. I’m never looking for what I find, but once I see it I want it. Does that happen to you? You come across something you didn’t know you wanted until you saw it. Is that kismet? Covetousness?

Just this morning, for example, I ran into my eye doctor at the grocery store. Who runs into a dreamy medical professional in the juice aisle of a grocery store? I do — while I’m wearing sagging, bagged-out-at-the-knee sweatpants and a sweatshirt with holes. I hadn’t even combed my hair yet. And there he stood, the man of my dreams: showered, shaved, neatly pressed, and was that harp music I heard?

I had two choices: keep going or stop to chat. Since he’s my eye doctor, he knows I can see; the bad eyesight excuse wouldn’t work. So I sucked it up and chatted. He ignored the cowlicks and pillow creases, he overlooked the holey sweatshirt, he just smiled and blushed and melted my heart. I love that guy.

Hey, maybe you’ll discover something here that melts your heart? We’ve gone à la carte in our 9th issue. We tossed in whatever was on hand and stirred, sort of like a hearty stew. Sound good?

midler

Speaking of sound, have you heard Bette Midler’s cover of TLC’s Waterfalls? Check it out here. The song is from her new album, It’s the Girls, available November 4 in the US; November 17 in the UK. The album is a tribute to the girl groups she loved — from the Andrews Sisters to the Supremes.

 

Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton — billed as the true story of twittermoney, power, friendship, and betrayal,but they forgot to mention stoopidity. How Twitter survived the bumbling management of those four dudes is nothing short of a miracle. Still it was an interesting story of treachery and egos run amok.

The Geniuses at Fishs Eddy

Those guys, I swear. They come up with the greatest stuff. Imagine serving snacks from this tray ($19.95) at your next get together or coffee in this mug ($12.95). They’ll either be a huge hit or a flaming miss. Available here.

perky mug

snack tray

And there you have it. Be sure to stop by for our next edition, half-baked X. Sounds vaguely pornographic, doesn’t it? Oy. That one will get a lot of disappointed viewers.

Happy trails, boys and girls, until we meet again.

Copyright © 2014 Publikworks

: humans are pack animals :

October 21, 2014 § 8 Comments

Don’t believe me? Get on the freeway.

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Contrary to popular opinion, American highways are not great big parking lots. The one you’re on, yes, it’s gridlocked, but there’s open road ahead and behind. Smooth sailing. You just can’t see it for the brake lights and semis standing in your way. Traffic jams, you see, are a natural consequence of our need for companionship. Apparently, we don’t want to be alone.

Yeah? Too bad. Spread out, people, and give me some elbow room. I can’t breathe with everyone crammed together like sardines. This is how claustrophobia starts, you know. And I have enough problems already; I don’t need more. What do you have against solitude, anyway? It’s really quite lovely.

In solitude, you’re free to be the you only you know. There’s no pressure to fit in or appearance to keep up, no expectations to meet (or fall short of) — it’s just you. Do you even know you? Have you ever spent time with you? Well, now might be a good time to get acquainted. Heck, maybe you’ll like your own company? Stranger things have happened.

Of course, I’m probably odd man out. Again.

On the rare occasion we aren’t elbow-to-elbow, we’ve got stuff plugged in our ears or chirping in our hand or parked in front of our face. What’s with the neurotic quest for distraction? I don’t get it. Can’t we just sit down and shut up? Enjoy the view? Smile at a stranger? Think a thought, maybe?

I mean, people don’t even go to the bathroom alone any longer. Have you noticed? They use the buddy system, toting a smartphone or a whatever along for company. I’d pay cash money to find a bathroom where someone isn’t using a smartphone or a whatever.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not antisocial. I like people just fine, but I don’t wanna be trapped in an elevator with one. Think about it. When they got bored — a matter of seconds, surely — they’d pull out the smartphone and start chirping and whistling and vibrating. Et moi? I’d wind up in a sanitarium wearing a helmet.

See? I love quiet. I love privacy. I love solitude. Join me, won’t you? In the figurative sense.

wolfpack

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