Things I Believe: Thoughts for Friday

Beggars can't be choosers. Besides, making good choices is probably not their forte.

Behind every great man is a great woman. Behind her is the guy's wife, and boy is she pissed.

The best defense is a good offense. And gun turrets.

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Save the cursing for when the candle spills hot wax on you.


Cheap and Easy

And now, a word from our sponsor:

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And now, back to your regularly scheduled weblog...


End of End of Days

I had another blog entry written and ready to go in the likely event that I was taken up with the rest of the Deserving on Saturday’s Rapture. Here it is:

Hey Everyone,

If you’re reading this, it must mean that the Rapture happened and I’m now in a better place and that, well, you’re not. But hey, it’s not that big a deal. I mean, you still have burgers down here, and I’m not sure we even have cows where I’ve gone to. And how much harp music do you really want to hear every day?

Anyway, please enjoy the rest of eternity. Perhaps reading my book
will help pass the time and help you forget that you just weren't quite good enough. Or maybe it was just a clerical error; it was a really big project getting everyone together, try to have a little sympathy if they messed up on some of the details.

But alas, ‘twas not meant to be. It looks like I was left behind.

I’m sure they meant to take me, just like that girls in high school that meant to call me. And the women in college. And my wife. It’s just that people forget, right? And so do Gods, apparently. I mean, he made us in his image and all.

So here I am, wondering what to do with the rest of my life. Everything I’ve done to date was leading up to that single moment when I got to take the back exit and get away from all of life’s obligations. Now I have to actually do my job, pay my mortgage, communicate with my family - will the torture ever end?

The first thing to do, obviously, is to prepare for the next Rapture, just in case there’s a chance to hitch a ride next time around. You never know when these things are going to happen, Superior Beings being the busy people they are and all. The memos just don’t get around in time. You don’t want to be excluded from the party just because you didn’t see the invite, right? So it’s best to be prepared. Here are some tips for staying ready:
  • Stay packed: Remember that carry-on bag you packed on Friday? Keep it packed. You might switch out the book you packed, because you were probably in the middle of it and you’d like to finish it. Besides, the library probably wants it back, now that you’re still on Earth and all. So switch it out with something timeless and long, like Anna Karenina. Or an encyclopedia; you never know if there might be a quiz on facts on words in the range of Ce to Di when you get up there. If you don’t pass the test, it’s an awfully long way back down.
  • Keep your eyes on the skies: If you see crowds of people wafting up into the clouds, that’s probably a sign that it’s time. Either that, or jetpacks have made it to the consumer market, finally, and commuting will get a whole lot more fun.
  • Watch your weight: In case there’s a weight limit, you want to make sure you’re under it. The Bible was very sketchy on travel details, but it can’t hurt to play it safe.
Alternatively, your continuance on Earth might indicate that you simply aren’t cut out for the Rapture thing. Maybe preparing for being one of the Unchosen is more appropriate. Here are some tips for sticking around on this mortal coil a bit longer:
  • Unpack: You ain’t going anywhere for a long time, and you’re going to need that toothbrush. Brimstone has a habit of sticking in the teeth.
  • Return your library books: It was okay to tell yourself that you didn’t have time to return that stack of overdue books when you were preparing to be lifted up into the clouds for eternity. But now that you’re here to stay, you’d better get them back to the stacks. Those librarians can make your life Hell on Earth.
  • Hydrate: If the Rapture actually did happen and these are the End of Days, then it could get a bit hot down here. Drink plenty of liquids; it’s so easy to get dehydrated in the fires of eternal damnation. You’ve already lost your soul; you don’t want to also lose your health.



Apparently, the world is coming to an end tomorrow. And I’d just gotten used to the place.

It seems worth spending a few minutes preparing ourselves. I mean, the world only ends once. Here are some tips for how to deal with The End:
  • Brush your teeth. There’s nothing like starting on a long journey and realizing your breath stinks. And who knows when you’ll see a tube of Crest again?
  • Put a lot of food out for the dog. Hell, just open the rest of the bag out onto the floor. We’re going to be gone for a while.
  • Make sure the stove and coffee pot are turned off. Check them twice. Three times. You don’t want to worry about that for the rest of eternity.
  • Bring comfy shoes: We always want to look our best, but nobody looks good when they’re hobbling along for miles because of the blisters. And you don’t want to break a heel in all the kerfuffle.
  • Pack light: The Bible has never been clear on the baggage rules. Will we be able to check bags? Does the first bag cost $25? Is there enough room in the overhead, or do we have to take up precious leg room for our carry-ons? Better to pack light and avoid the hassle. Leave the parka at home and bring a windbreaker instead.
  • Take those pills: We don’t know what the travel accommodations will be like, so if you’re at all prone to motion sickness, it’s best take your pills in the morning. Besides, they might help you sleep. It could be a long journey.
  • Bring something to read. Long flights with no entertainment are so tedious; don’t risk it.
  • List your accomplishments: Just in case there’s an opportunity for an upgrade, you might want to list out all of the good things you’ve done in your life. Just for a reminder (they probably know already). If they do have a rewards program, these will probably be your points. And you don’t want to travel in coach if you don’t have to.
  • Get some good sleep the night before. It's always more fun to travel when you're well-rested.
  • Lock your door and sit on the curb. Like the stove, don’t wonder whether you remember to lock it. And go outside to sit on the curb and wait. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if they stopped by to get you and you didn’t hear them because you were in the bathroom? Don’t run that risk.
That's all I can think of. I need to go check the stove and coffee pot. See you tomorrow.


When I am King: Ups and Downs

When I am King...

Buildings will only have single stories.

Elevators are such wonderful spaces. They take people who enjoy a personal space between themselves and others roughly the distance that a bullet travels, stuff them in a space just large enough to raise tender veal, and make them ride together on a journey of awkwardness. We stare at the numbers clicking by, we stare at the floor, and we stare at the doors, willing them to open on our floor so that we can finally run to our cubes and breathe heavily into the paper bag that we keep there for that purpose.

Meanwhile, we’re all in a hurry, and the time spent in that stall with no toilet is wasted. It’s as if you’re hurrying down the hall and then pause, motionless, for a couple of minutes. It’s probably a helpful tactic when being chased by a motion-sensing reptile, or when having a seizure, but is otherwise useless. So many things need our immediate attention, but we’re stuck in that place just because of our need to move in the vertical direction.

When the doors open somewhere along the way, they stay open for just about ever. When you’re about to do something really desperate like verbalize your impatience to your fellow travelers, the doors begin slowly sliding closed. Then someone on the outside hits the Up button and the waiting game starts again.

The only defense we have against open doors is the Close button. It’s right down there next to the Open button, with a very similarly illegible icon. So we casually jamb our finger on the button and wait for the doors to respond. And wait. And wait.

The thing is, the inventors put the button there to make us feel like we were doing something. But they didn’t want the elevator to actually have that functionality. Either through cheapness, or an inherent pride in the workmanship of the Open feature, they decided to abandon the Close feature at the level of the button. You can push it all you want - those doors will close when they’re damn good and ready.

The elevator close button is the placebo of the mechanical transportation industry.

On some advanced and expensive elevators, the button is hooked up, because it’s considered tacky and cheap to simply have it sitting there with nothing behind it. Unfortunately, these elevators hook it up to the Open function, which explains why pressing the Close button makes it seem like it takes even longer than it does otherwise. Those doors remain open as long as we hold the Close button.

Sure, we could take the stairs and avoid all of this hassle, but then we’d just be made aware of how out of shape we are, and who needs that extra guilt?

When I am King, buildings will only have single stories. A second story is like a sequel: a pale imitation of the first, produced just because they figured they already spent all that time and money with the first one, they might as well do another one. Single stories will eliminate the awkwardness of the elevator experience and give us back the time that we would have spent standing too close to other human beings, so that we have more time to post status messages and emails to friends that comfortably far away.

If you really want to take the stairs, there’s always the gym. And if you miss the elevator, you can always ask a group of strangers to follow you into a toilet stall.

What it looks like
How it works


Things I Believe: Thoughts for Friday

A penny saved is a penny earned, but if you're counting the pennies, you're screwed.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be. Just take the damn thing.

Where there's a will, there's a way
to contest it.

Two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do.


When I am King: Friendless

When I am King...

I will have no friends.

I got several notifications from LinkedIn this week which reminded me how much I hate these emails. It’s not that I mind reconnecting with people, or being connected to them. It’s not that I mind them contacting me. And it’s certainly not that I have too many friends: geeks are naturally anti-social creatures and can use all the friends they can get.

However, I do object to the assumption, in these emails and on these social sites in general, that everyone is my ‘friend.’ They are not my friends: I hardly know them. If we’re counting friends, I’m pretty sure I can depend on my wife and my dog (depending on whether I helped out around the house that day). And of them, only one of them could possibly send me a ‘friend’ request on the computer (I don’t give my dog our account passwords. You never know what havoc they’ll wreak while you’re out for the day).

Outside of the house, I do have some friends. But mostly I have colleagues. And social acquaintances. And business acquaintances. And networking contacts. And people I met at conferences. And friends of friends. And people I met in a bar last night. And other people I met in the bar later last night when I was face-down on the floor. None of these people are what I’d call ‘friends’.

Friends are people we are close to. We grew up with them, or we roomed with them, or we spent too many years sequestered in the same cube at faceless corporations with them. In other words, friends are the people who have the dirt on you, the really nasty stuff that you don’t want anyone else to know. You keep these friends close because the alternative is worse. Everyone that’s not in that category you specifically want some distance from so that they don’t find out the dark secrets that could make you befriend them.

When I am King, social networks will be more honest. You will not get email telling you that someone says you’re a ‘friend.’ Instead, there will be more helpful information, like:
John Johnson has indicated you are:
  • a remote acquaintance.
  • someone he’s heard of.
  • another human being.
  • a person with a neat name.
  • someone whose contact information he wants to acquire.
  • someone he’d like to spam with a random headhunter email completely unrelated to your interests and experience.
  • someone who might know the answer to their homework problem.
  • someone who left a face-print on the floor of the bar last night.
We may not end up accepting connections with these people, but at least the relationships will be more honest if we do. And who knows? They could even someday become really good friends, unless you manage to keep all of the embarrassing personal secrets off of the social site accounts to which they now have access.