Wear Eye Protection

Goggles WWII Flickruser SDASM archives public domainI suppose some writers will run their fingernails over their keyboards, caressing it like an old lover. What’s disturbing about that is that their fingers are between their brain and your eyes, and in an odd ways, this is sort of like poking your eyeballs. Gently, I hope, but if you see someone wiggling their fingers at you it’s best be safe.

Eye protection is important.

When you consider things like that, the world is viciously funny.

Two people fighting on social media are basically waving their fingers at each other, probably emphatically. On computer keyboards, they probably get good rhythm going, their thumbs using the space bar for percussion as they beat out their thoughts to someone who is likely not even going to read what they wrote. Even as they are typing, the other person is already working on their next response.

Dueling Keyboards. It would be a lot less intense if they got on a video call and just waved fingers at each other. How ridiculous would that be?

It might also be fun to stick them on some good gamer keyboards – something we older folks remembered as ‘standard’ with the IBM PC, XT and AT. You could hit people with it all day, use it to open a beer, maybe even chop wood with it and still use it. That’s something IBM made that few did in the early days: Bulletproof keyboards.

I used to go through a keyboard a year. Really. I stopped writing as much, and these keyboards I have have lasted… too long. A real writing session makes your fingers cramp, and that’s when you know when to stop.

But carry that with you as you go – that people are just wiggling fingers at your eyeballs, and you’re just wiggling them back.

Car Profile Pictures.

Car Tunes show in BeloitIn this day and age, when I see someone’s profile picture as a car, I wonder…

Do they identify with the color of the car, or are they trapped inside waiting to be a different color?

Do they identify as an automatic or manual or CVT or Dual clutch sort of car?

Do they identify as having leather seats or fabric?

Do they identify as a V8 trapped in a 4 cylinder body? Or vice versa? Or do they identify as electric, or hybrid?

Do they identify as a front wheel drive, a rear wheel drive, an all wheel drive or a true 4×4?

Do they want some cosmetic surgery, maybe change those headlights to round or rectangular or… hexagonal?

Have they been abused? Will they be triggered by someone with heavy feet, or a woman with stilettos?

Car profile pictures are so very open to interpretation. People worry about people too much, but what about people who identify as cars? What kind of cars?

I’m sure I don’t know.

What is clear is that they don’t identify as a human, for whatever reason. Maybe they were born that way. Maybe they smoked some strange plant – not marijuana, of course, something stranger. Maybe they were raised by feral Tonka toys, or Matchbox cars.

Maybe their parents were cars. Maybe it was a one night stand, they met by accident, bent some fenders…

So don’t treat them like humans – you should treat them like cars. Send them lubrication. Fuel/electricity. Make sure that they have enough blinker fluid stockpiled. Communicate in ‘vrooms’. Wave your hand at them like windshield wipers.

Whatever you do, don’t make fun of them. They’re really, really sensitive.

How To Make Awkward More Awkward

So long!Maybe you’re like me. An introvert who has learned to deal with people without anxiety. If you’re like me, you don’t need to read this and you can carry on with your lives.

If you’re an extrovert, don’t read further either – but I can depend on you to tell everyone about this wonderful article you were discouraged reading and how you feel about it. Extroverts are good like that.

Anyone who made it through the last few paragraphs, here are a few fun things to do when in public. The idea is to given into that social anxiety and share it in your own controlled way.

Disclaimer: Of course, I’m not responsible for anything that happens by you do any of these things.

The Chameleon
The Victoria Butterfly GardenWhen entering a large room full of humans that you don’t know, repeat in a low and firm voice, “blending, blending, blending…”.

This will let people know who are interested that you are attempting to blend in. You’ll probably that the garrulous people won’t even notice – which means you’ve been successful!

Trust me. You didn’t want to talk to the garrulous people anyway. Only garrulous people like each other, everyone else either tolerates them or doesn’t.

The Mingle

minglingSooner or later, one of your well intentioned friends may first suggest, then plead, then force you to mingle. They’re well intentioned, don’t get upset with them.

Simply wander around, repeating in a low and firm voice, “mingling, mingling, mingling…” This will let everyone in earshot know that you’re open to a social mingle – and ‘mingle’ is about combining.

Should someone accept the mingle offer, you can proceed to talk about most things other than how much you hate mingling. If they didn’t, you tried. However, this can lead to problems, so your last gift from me is my last bit of advice.

The Bad Mingle Strategy

AwkwardBad mingles happen. It’s awkward. And, really, it’s just a bad combination – that’s what a mingle is.

There are a variety of strategies here – one being the “What’s that over there?” while-pointing-then-running-away strategy, which is pretty cowardly and doesn’t always work. This leaves people with a view of your buttocks as you duck for cover.

Do you want to be remembered by your backside? Well, barring the Kardashians, of course.

The way to deal with this is to look the person straight in the eye – this part can be hard – and say, “This is socially awkward. I’m leaving.” Then leave, calmly.

You can even do it when they’re talking, particularly the ones who are always talking. In this way, they will remember you as being a socially awkward mingle partner and will leave you alone in the future.

There. Not so bad, is it?

Certifying the Negatives

blank certificateWe live in a strange society. People are running around getting certified for all sorts of things to prove to other people that they can do them. There are certificates of achievement, completion, graduation… and so on, and so forth.

How old are you? Oh, you have a birth certificate – which you only get once. You get death certificates once as well, but typically only posthumously.

You can get certified on all sorts of things. People will ask you, “So, are you any good at this?”, and you’re prepared: Just whip out a certificate on whatever this is.

But we don’t certify the bad things, such as:

  • Can’t keep a secret.
  • ‘Great personality’.
  • Being over 5 feet tall.
  • Being under 5 feet tall.
  • Exceptional Procrastination.

Think about it. Someone asks you to do something: You tell them you’re procrastinating. By the Laws of Certification, they should then wonder if you have the capacity to procrastinate effectively. Can you? Why don’t you?

“It’s clear you never took the time to get a certificate of procrastination, which tells me…”

The point is, we use certificates for things that we think are positives, but what did those certificates cost you? Did a Certificate of Perfect Attention cost you a Certificate in being a happy and healthy human being?

When you really think about it, certificates are silly things. Either you did something or you didn’t, either you are good at something or you’re not.

And don’t even get me started on degrees…

The point is, if we’re going to certify some things, maybe we should be certifying everything else.

Product Placement In a Trinidad Pharmacy.

Product Placement. Hmm.

I was leaking a bit of blood this morning, and I was in the bush. So, I tore one of my rags, made a quick compression bandage on my pinky, and continued checking the lay of my land.

So I checked one of my neighbors when I got out – and one of the other neighbors had seen me with my fluorescent green wrap and sent their 6 year old grandson with a bandaid. A nice one. And I remembered that I needed to put things like that in the pickup.

After a nice lahay, I went to the pharmacy – Bhagans at SouthPark, if you must know, and I surveyed their bandaids. It used to be much simpler – just grab one and go. Now they have sheer, fabric, waterproof, blah blah blah… so I looked to my left, and a decidedly young woman at the counter was watching me. Then I looked back at the shelves. Above the bandaids were the condoms.

A sigh. A shake of the head. I got the fabric, water repellant, hypoallergenic, strong and durable… oh, you get the point. No bacitracin or neosporin (that was behind the counter, it ends up), but enough KY and other lubricants (warming and otherwise) to drown a small horse.

And then I looked at the condoms. And then I looked at what was next to the condoms.

Exif_JPEG_420And I considered the science of product placement and wondered what the HELL these kids are up to these days where Orajel is next to the condoms, above the KY Jelly, and the bandaids are under them.

Now that’s a story right there.

The Trinidad Hardware Non-Browsing Experience

DIY Mini-Softbox (First Subject)At the neighborhood hardware, where you can’t just browse…

Waiting. Someone shuffles to the front.

“I could help you?”

“Yeah, I need a roll of painter’s tape.”

“What kind of tape?”

“Painter’s tape….” Seeing the look of confusion, I continue: “the blue tape, for masking off while painting.”

“What’s it used for?”

Straight face. I say, patiently, “…for masking off while painting.”

“You mean masking tape?”

“No, painter’s tape. It’s blue. Specifically for painting.”

She goes in the back, rummages around and triumphantly raises a roll of tape which is… unfortunately grey. And duct tape.

“No, that’s duct tape. Painter’s tape. Look for a blue tape.”

Some more rummaging around, and she cautiously shows me a roll of… blue painter’s tape. “Yes! That’s it! Do you have any that is wider?”

She looks at the tape, looks at me. “You mean thicker?”

“Yes, ok, thicker.” No, I don’t want thick tape, I want wider tape, but this has gotten way too complicated.

Rummages around. “No…”

“OK, I’ll take that then.”

She smiles, tells me it’s only $15 instead of $25, not knowing that I probably would have paid $25 just to get the tape without all the drama and been happy. And I show her the label says… wait for it… “Painter’s Tape”.

New Rule: If I can’t browse the wares, I won’t peruse your lairs.

Observation: This is why the government of Trinidad and Tobago charges an online purchase tax of 7%. Because of these valuable interactions.

Thinking Is The Best Way To Travel.

A StartTravel is always interesting because, even if you have been to the destination before, it’s new again. Time is that stream we dip our cups in; the contents of the stream change even though we still call it a stream.

I was on an airplane not too long ago – I got up at 2 a.m., drove for an hour, parked, took a bus into an airport and stood in a TSA line for 45 minutes – where I quipped that they better have found a terrorist during that time to a few of the 500 or so people herded together by people in uniform, constantly reminding us to be in single file lines and to have our documents out and ready for the inspection 45 minutes away. We didn’t know it was 45 minutes away. For all we knew, there were people waiting for us with baseball bats around the next corner. Fortunately, this was not true.

Still, myself and a few others found hope in the imagining of all of this being worth it, that some would-be terrorist would be in stocks when we got to the end and that there would be rotten fruit provided to throw at them.

This was not to be the case.

From there, our new found friends scattered to different gates where we sat, waiting to be pressed into long sardine cans with wings – with windows that might as well have been a Hollywood set. We got in the air, and at 7:30 a.m. were allegedly in the air. By 8:47 a.m., we were allegedly in another airport – 6 hours and 47 minutes spent traveling to a destination that was really only 2 hours away from where I started, had fear-driven bureaucracy not given credence to what we endured.

In a shift of luck I have not experience in all my travels – and that is a lot – the gate for my connecting flight was almost immediately next to that of my arriving flight. I had time to get into yet another line for a protein shake since, without appearing despondent, the woman informed me that there was no coffee available at this hour. I am not so certain I mirrored her expression.

The next flight included 2 gentlemen on either side of me – one of which found an empty seat elsewhere, the other who was bravely maneuvering a pinata through 6 connecting flights… successfully. There should be a ribbon for that. And as the flight progressed, I decided to forego the pleasure of watching the latest Star Wars for the 2nd time, instead planning to doze. Pinata-man’s post nasal drip had other plans for me; his constant hawking lacked enough rhythm or lack of it to sleep to; I took the trouble to find my headphones so that I could block him out.

I ended up watching the movie, and one of the light saber battles began – an epic battle, twisting and turning, slicing, parrying and thrusting – a show that might have amused Musashi. Right in front of the screen, a woman apparently was so excited that she had to go to the bathroom, causing a wave of heads across the screen during the battle. Inwardly, I groaned. The battle ended as she hurried by. I sighed. A gentleman who had been dozing with his window blind down suddenly felt the need to open it and fill out customs forms during a dark part of the movie, allowing the sun to blind one of my eyes as I watched at a despondently dark screen – as if it were depressed by his actions.

And lo! At the very ending, my favorite part when Luke says not a word but volumes with his face, Mr. Pinata PostNasalDrip had an emergency requirement for the toilet.

We landed, and 12 hours later I was at my destination – eeking my way through immigration somewhat familiar, somewhat different, where invariably because of my passport the immigration officer would predictably say that I could have gone through the other line and it would have been faster (regardless of which line I was in). I grabbed my 15 lbs of belongings at the baggage claim, made my way through customs with decades of experience and absolutely no wit– something they do not appreciate  – and made my way out into sunlight, into a familiar land that was not so familiar, to meet people who were familiar but different, to deal with issues that were familiar but different.

Thinking is a much better way to travel. More leg room.

Hat tip to the Moody Blues for the title.