Thursday, April 28, 2016

Insomnia Man

  To celebrate Super Hero Day, I present Insomnia Man. I wrote this after a few nights of insomnia, which kind of explains a lot...

Insomnia Man (IM because I’m too lazy to type the full name) was a sheepherder until being laid off in the late 90s when computer software and technology made it possible to count sheep more cheaply and efficiently than a mere mortal could. This disturbed Insomnia Man deeply and disrupted the ebb and flow of his life, but he found work not long after in a local office complex. He would spend his days in his drab mono-colored (coloured for any of my European readers) cubicle staring at a computer monitor listening to the incessant droning native to the office environment while pushing papers and taking things in and out of manila folders because that’s what he saw those around him doing. Due to the lack of excitement he was used to on the sheep farm, he would often fall asleep at his desk. IM could get away with this because he always had plenty of manila folders on his desk and was never seen not clutching one. This daytime sleeping made it hard to fall asleep at night and before too long IM became a full-fledged insomniac. Well, that’s what he believed after seeing that he had a few of the same symptoms as an insomniac does on the internet. Perhaps he was too quickly convinced that he was an insomniac because he thought it made him a candidate for disability until he was laughed out of his company’s HR Specialist’s office. This made him bitter and agitated which further deterred his ability to sleep.

The insomnia didn’t bother IM too much at first because it made it much easier for him to sleep through his workday and that made the workday pass much quicker than if he actually worked straight through 8 consecutive hours. IM would spend his nights learning foreign languages by watching their infomercials or enjoying his TiVo’d episodes of ‘The Wonder Years’ (don’t we all have Winnie Coopers or Kevin Arnolds in our past). One night while craving a Chalupa, he took to the streets to find a Taco Bell. It was at this time that he witnessed his very first crime. At least he thought that the guy was breaking into his neighbors house until he called the police and they discovered that it was his neighbor’s Father-in-law trying to get back into the house because he locked himself out while house sitting. Never the less, the adrenaline rush he experienced while thinking he was foiling a criminal act now and forever would be in his blood. It was only a bonus that his neighbors later dropped the charges against him.

IM now knew what he must do. He would use his sub-super powers to prevent evil in his city by finding crime in progress and calling the police. Sadly, IM was not smart enough to realize that the crime would be over by the time he reported it. He upgraded his cell phone plan, bought a digital camera and while his wife slept one night, he assembled everything he would need to fashion his own superhero costume, although he disliked the term costume as he felt it belittled him and referred to it as his ‘Superuni.” He later realized he had no talent for combining words and just stuck with ‘My Uniform For Deterring, if Not Repelling, Because I Can’t Really Fight, Crime.” One night after driving himself to the emergency room to have his fingers removed from the cape he had accidentally sewed to them, his Uniform For Deterring, if Not Repelling, Because I Can’t Really Fight, Crime was finished.

IM was now free to patrol the streets at night looking and listening for crime. He found that the longer he went without sleep, the harder it was to walk or drive straight and trust what he was seeing. Unfortunately, he missed more crimes than he prevented and was asked by the authorities to stop searching for crime after striking a group of elderly women leaving a bingo game one night. In time, the police dispatchers stopped taking his calls and then became further irritated when they had to dispatch officers nightly to get him off the yards of the town’s citizens. It turns out that those Neighborhood Watch programs really are effective. But then, how difficult is it to spot someone in a mask and cape with big ‘ZZZZs’ on their chest peeking in through your neighbor’s window.

Times were tough for IM. Then when having to go to the grocery store for his wife one day (despite his insistence that he needed to try and sleep during the day because he did really important stuff at night like Elvis used to), he realized that he actually did have an almost superpower. The bags under his eyes had become so big that they repelled the sunlight allowing him to not have to squint, just like the pro athletes who paint black streaks under their eyes before they compete. Now he could seek out and report crime to the authorities in the daytime too. 

Insomnia Man patrolled the local streets day and night unsuccessfully for over 20 years. Then one day his social security check began arriving and his wife retired. She insisted that they buy a motor home and travel the country (mostly to escape the constant ridicule for being the wife of the sleepless caped idiot). While driving the motor home, he fell asleep at the wheel driving through Needles, California and was hospitalized for 8 months. Ironically, that day driving and the ensuing 8 months was the best (and by best I mean only) sleep he had experienced in 23 years. After recovering; they retired to Florida, took up lawn bowling and he now falls asleep at 3PM everyday while watching ‘The People’s Court’ in his recliner. 

It’s still a sore subject for him when his grandchildren make fun of Insomnia Man. Except for the one grandchild who is afraid of sleep and found Insomnia Man’s Uniform For Deterring, if Not Repelling, Because He Can’t Really Fight, Crime in his grandfather’s attic one day…

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

They Don't Make Roommates Like That Anymore.

Since it's National Tell A Story Day, this story came to mind. For one weekend in 2007, I was admitted to the hospital to have them administer a new heart drug to me. This is the story of my roommate...

My hospital roommate was something one could only dream up, except I’m telling the truth. He was an older Southern Gentleman, a real Southerner. As opposed to fake Southerner, which be would akin to Harvey Corman in the Carol Burnett "Gone With The Wind" skit. Listening to his voice, I felt like the Confederates were just moments away from stealing my plantation and drinking all my sweet tea…I mean that what the Civil War was like, right? I should probably begin podcasting, because written word will never, ever do justice to my impersonation of him calling his mother’s caretaker. As he was watching an I Love Lucy rerun (as opposed to the new episodes I guess. Did I really need to say it was a rerun), he called his mom’s care taker and this is what I heard (now picture a very, very dignified Southern voice saying this ‘tell mutha, that Vitameatavegimin is on. You can watch your stories lata, Vitameatavegimin is on.’ I was laughing so hard I almost popped my IV out. Moments later his phone rang and in the same dignified voice, I heard ‘I will have to call you back in 90 minutes. Vitiameatavegimin is on and then I need to watch my Judge Hatchett.’ All I could do every time his mouth opened was picture Forrest Gump’s Mama’s house.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Join the CIA!!!!!

I joked last week (OK, 7 years ago for those scoring at home) about wanting to do a story based on a radio commercial I heard about the fact that the CIA is hiring, but I was too afraid of Big Brother. They're like HR only with weapons and wiretapping, though unlike my HR, they probably let you surf the web. Although I'm sure it's in the name of National Security, which really isn't a good name. I prefer something more traditional like Dale or possibly Ella, if it's a girl. 

Well, after reading this AP story about the CIA on Yahoo, I’m ready to. The story is about how the CIA is looking for new employees, which I guess they call recruits or perhaps newhires or maybe if you're really lucky, agents. The story says that they have shown ads during baseball games, taken out ad space in various magazines and airport billboards as well as during movie trailers. If they're smart, they would take out ads next to the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World ads, which I wrote about just a few posts below - but don't go there yet. I'd like you to finish this one first. It even says the CIA has hired an ad agency. I bet the ad company’s creative folks are having a blast pitching ideas to CIA employees. I can hear it now, “ok guys, if you don’t think this tagline is good, you’re not going to shoot or torture me, right? Guys, smile, that was just a joke, really.” No, it's not a slick pitch like they make on "Mad Men" but it's how I used to pitch clients and I even landed one of them once, so there.

Now I’m glad to know that I wasn’t the only one noticing how weird it is that our government’s intelligence agency is publicly seeking employees. Apparently one of the things the CIA wants to do is wipe away the notion that all CIA work is like the very fictional world of James Bond. I’m sure my stereotypical driveling in the next few paragraphs is the exact type of thinking they want to discourage, but I just can’t help it. And with that, cue the moving gun barrel and the image of a well dressed man walking across it preparing to shoot you. Why yes, you can pretend it's me if you'd like...

What a relief though to know that if the CIA were to hire me I wouldn’t have to go out and buy enough tuxedos for every day of the week. It would be a little sad in a way to be hired by the CIA and have all of those myths associated with covert work demystified so quickly. I could see myself sitting in my new cubicle saying to no one in particular, “so this is it, really? Can my ballpoint pen kill anybody? When do I get to meet Q? Did I miss the lady with the caviar cart or does she come by after lunch?” At that point I’m sure I’d be executed fired.

Although I know nothing about the workings of our country’s intelligence agency (in fact just using the word intelligence usually trips me up), I would imagine that working in a cubicle there beats working in a cubicle for anyone else. My guess is that the two most interesting departments would be HR and the requisitioning department. My mind can only imagine what items would be requisitioned at the CIA. Of course, in reality it’s probably the same type of stuff at any company like pencils, pens, computers, paper, copier toner and explosive tie clips. Wouldn’t it be great to hear a line like, “did you get that order of magnetic, homing device, self destructing wrist watches filled yet,” just once while at work.

HR might be the easiest department since every personnel file would be marked ‘classified.’ Imagine having to review someone’s file to determine whether administrative leave is necessary after he or she destroyed an entire riverfront Bistro in pursuit of a wanted dangerous international smuggler. More than likely, the day-to-day monotony of a CIA HR person would be filled with healthcare enrollment options, retirement packages and sexual harassment claims filed by older cold war relic spies who keep hitting on their new, young secretaries by calling them Ms. Moneypenny and asking if they’d like to see his Aston Martin (if you catch my drift). I should tell you that the notion to go with Pussy Galore instead of Ms. Moneypenny in that last sentence crossed my mind, but there's a certain word there that makes me blush. I shudder to think of using the word Moneypenny in a public setting.  The word should actually be two separate words, but that's how they created it. It's so embarassing when you catch other people making spelling or grammatic errors.

Man, I bet the training films are great to watch. Do you think they save money and just show Bond films or episodes of Get Smart or do you think they actually make the training films themselves complete with monotone narration and lots of great black and white 1950's stock footage? Do the training films talk about how important it is to forget what you overheard during lunch or to only look down at the floor or up to the ceiling when walking down the hall? Are there plenty of suggestions on how to make the perfect double entendre or witty remark after you have killed someone? Does it cover the importance of leaving your disguises in the office and not forwarding government email to your best friend from high school just because it says ‘for your eyes only’ or ‘this message must be destroyed after receipt?’ My mind tingles at the possibilities.

Do you think the CIA plays other government entities in a governmental softball or bowling league? I bet that all the CIA players show up in Ray-Ban sunglasses and fake beards. I wonder if the other teams just throw the games because they are afraid of what would happen if they beat the CIA. No matter what the answers to all of these questions are, I think me asking them out loud has just guaranteed that I will never be invited to work for their agency. Oh well, it was worth a shot, right? After all, you only live twice. And diamonds are forever. And nobody does it better. And tomorrow never dies. And we have all the time in the world (bonus points if you can name which movie that one was in). There, I think I milked that dead horse for all it's worth. Wait, that can't be right...

Monday, April 25, 2016

Let's Get Rid of Monday!

This blog post was originally written in 2006 on a Monday, as I recall...

I have to say how much I hate Mondays. I know that I am not alone and it’s certainly not a new sentiment among the blogging or Facebook community. You can see the disdain for Mondays on the faces of coworkers, other commuters and just about everyone you interact with on this solemn day. Go ahead, wish someone a Happy Monday and see what happens...

It’s time to address the issue head on. Monday should be removed from our calendar. I propose that we make Tuesday the new Monday. Of course, Tuesday has done nothing to deserve the wrath that becoming the new Monday will bring. Therefore, I also propose that Tuesdays become a universal casual day at work. By 'casual,' I don't mean shorts and sandals, although they certainly are welcome. I mean relaxing, kicking back, sipping drinks and visiting with your coworkers (providing you actually find that relaxing) all while listening to music. Plus, because things are so relaxed, you can come in whenever you want!
That and the fact that it’s one day closer to the weekend should help Tuesday remain the somewhat innocuous day it already is. Is there the chance that your company will not want to pay you for relaxing on Back To Work Tuesday? Probably not, remember that the bosses and payroll folks will be relaxing too, just hopefully not with you. That would not be relaxing at all. Well, unless the payroll guy has a little too much to drink and starts doling out 'expense' reimbursements!!

I don’t expect much flak about the abandonment of Mondays except from the folks getting royalties on music about Mondays. I’m speaking of tunes like “Manic Monday,” “Come Monday,” “Monday, Monday” and my favorite “Rainy Days and Mondays.” (Yes, I just used the word 'favorite' in conjunction with the title of a Carpenters song. And yet I still maintain my dignity!) Those Monday songs would become outdated over night. Would it affect “Ruby Tuesday?” I don’t know, I haven't thought that far ahead. Do you really think the Stones are complaining?

When we remove Monday from the calendar it will set in motion a horrible period of chaos and confusion as was expected to occur during the dawn of Y2K. Remember buying up canned goods and erecting a Y2K bunker? No, well then never mind, you daredevil. I suppose you don't cook your pork until it's completely done either! Surely I was not the only one who built a Y2K bunker, right? Well, at least I got a tin-foiled lined, cable TV ready storage shed out of it. I just wish I wasn't still paying it off.

To avoid the problems that converting to a 6-day week would cause, I’ve come up with a solution I hope will be a popular one. We will name the new day Funday and it will become essentially another Sunday (to fill up the empty day) with a Friday feel. This will create the 3-day weekend, every weekend.

So there you have it, a well thought out fair and balanced solution to Mondays. Now if I can just find some crackpot candidate belonging to some obscure political party, we’ll be good to go. We’ll call the new party the Calendarians. Imagine how well a candidate campaigning on the Calendarians’ “Create Funday” ticket would be. How in the world can you run a smear campaign against that? Even if the party loses, man the nominating convention will be a blast!

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Most Momentous Headline I've Ever Read!!!!

 The most momentous headline I've ever read, huh? It sounds pretty impressive, considering it's my first blog post in a couple of years! Seriously, I just read a new item that will change my world — if not yours too.

On Twitter this morning I read a post about McDonald's and the fact that they are going to test "all you can eat fries." Of course, I didn't actually read the article. Reading the article would possibly make the news not as impressive. I figure that the more you don't know makes life more exciting. It also makes you not as well read as you could be, but that hasn't hurt me in 42 years, so why start now...

All you can eat fries? That just boggles the mind. How much would they charge for this slice of heaven on earth? Yes, the article, which again I did not read, probably says how much they would charge, but that's not the point. I would pay far more than what I have in my bank account for the privilege. Then after ingesting sooooo many fries I would be extremely upset with myself for consuming 10,000 calories in one sitting. I would probably be a little sick but hey, that feeling will probably go away. All I would be left with is the feeling that I just had all you can eat fries. That would make me VERY happy. So yes, it was the most momentous headline I've ever yet read.

Thank you, all 3 of you, for taking the time to read this. At my last job, I had to work with a proofreader and I've clearly forgotten all he taught me trying to write this post. Writing is like exercise for the mind and I've clearly walked about 3 steps with this post. But I'm out of breath, so that is all the "exercising" for me today!