Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rule of 3s? Law of thirds?

I've never been too much of a rule-breaker, at least not intentionally. Although I do subscribe to and try to live by the maxim of "Tis better to ask forgiveness than permission."

Gotta tell you though, whether you call it the Rule of 3s or the Law of Thirds, I intend to ignore the possibility that bad things happen in threes. You see, in the past two days both of my best friends have visited one of these:

Yeah, the hospital.

One had an MRI on his back and the other had ERCP which, upon further study, looks like the more uncomfortable of the two procedures. FTW! Seriously, owwww!

Does a blog post count as a "Get Well Soon!" card?

And since I'm a big fan of cards that make you laugh (sent my dad a "serious monkey" card for Father's Day. It had a picture of a chimp wearing a suit and glasses), here's a funny thought, and I say this with love: My friends are five weeks (ERCP boy) and seven weeks (MRI boy) younger than me. Each year they enjoy harassing me when my birthday comes first. Yes, that's very funny. Makes me think about this video a little. (Seriously, click the link, suffer through the 15 second commercial and then watch the video. It is one of the funniest and, at the same time, saddest, three-minute short films ever made. I'm not kidding.)

Of course what really got me thinking is that I'm riding my bike to work more and more these days. During a conference call yesterday with, incidentally, a co-worker of MRI boy, it came out that we're both occasional bike commuters. The comment he made, the one that got me thinking, was, "From one bike commuter to another we both know if you ride your bike to work it's not a question of if you get hit by car, but when and how bad."

You know, I never really thought about it that way before, but thanks, thanks a lot for that thought.

Anyways, best wishes to both of my best friends. Get well soon cause I look forward to many more years of harassment.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Good news, bad news

In case you didn't hear, today is the summer solstice, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere at least. People around the world (north of the equator) are turning their faces skyward and basking in the glow as old Sol reaches its highest point in the northern sky.

The good news? Summer's here, school's out and, well, didn't you hear me say "summer's here"? It's time for ice cream, pools, sun dresses (yes!), vacations, Screen on the Green and any number of other fun things. Just think, a little more than four months ago we here in the D.C. area were digging our way out of and slogging our way through feet of snow. Snow, I might add, that lasted well beyond it's welcome.
What's the bad news?
Well, since you asked, it being the solstice and all every day from now until Dec. 21 will be shorter than the day that came before. A little less daylight, a little less sun every day from now until Christmas week.
Happy Solstice!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"You like me, right now, you like me!"

While not nearly as momentous as my 300th post, I just noticed my counter rolled over and stopped on 20,000 hits. I know I don't rack up the hits as much as some other bloggers, but it's kinda amazing to me that on 20,000 different occasions people have stopped by this little corner of the e-world.

For the record, the 20,000th visitor came by here all the way from Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. Shout OUT! to my brothers and sisters from the north. (Fist bump!) OK, they're both sisters, but the feelings are the same.

Thank you all for your time and patience. I may not be posting as often as I once did, but it's not because I don't love you anymore. I just have a much more involved job now and a lot less time for blogging.

Anyway, to keep this from being a complete navel-gazing post, take a look at this article from today's NYT. That's fine, I'll wait. The gist of the article is this: The kids who got picked on in school 'cause no one had their back, and who're now all grown up and working as school counselors and psychologists now believe it's a bad thing for kids to have “best friends.” And I quote:
“I think it is kids’ preference to pair up and have that one best friend. As adults — teachers and counselors — we try to encourage them not to do that,” said Christine Laycob, director of counseling at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School in St. Louis. “We try to talk to kids and work with them to get them to have big groups of friends and not be so possessive about friends.

“Parents sometimes say Johnny needs that one special friend,” she continued. “We say he doesn’t need a best friend.”

Or this worthless drivel from a psychologist at a NYC private school:
“When two children discover a special bond between them, we honor that bond, provided that neither child overtly or covertly excludes or rejects others,” said Jan Mooney, a psychologist at the Town School, a nursery through eighth grade private school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. “However, the bottom line is that if we find a best friend pairing to be destructive to either child, or to others in the classroom, we will not hesitate to separate children and to work with the children and their parents to ensure healthier relationships in the future.”

What garbage. Oh, and this crap from a summer camp is even better:
As the calendar moves into summer, efforts to manage friendships don’t stop with the closing of school. In recent years Timber Lake Camp, a co-ed sleep-away camp in Phoenicia, N.Y., has started employing “friendship coaches” to work with campers to help every child become friends with everyone else. If two children seem to be too focused on each other, the camp will make sure to put them on different sports teams, seat them at different ends of the dining table or, perhaps, have a counselor invite one of them to participate in an activity with another child whom they haven’t yet gotten to know.

“I don’t think it’s particularly healthy for a child to rely on one friend,” said Jay Jacobs, the camp’s director. “If something goes awry, it can be devastating. It also limits a child’s ability to explore other options in the world.”

Seriously, do you think anyone signed Christine or Jan or Jay's yearbooks? OK, maybe that's the kind of situation these morons are trying to avoid for their charges but, seriously? Friendship coaches? WTF is up with that noise?

I went to a large public high school. It was uber competitive, uber stratified and pretty much everyone was in one clique or another. I, believe it or not, was not in one of the popular ones. Yes, yes, it's true, I was not always the strapping vision of robust manhood I am today. I'm not saying it was Lord of the Flies in my school, but there was the usual pecking order of athletes/cheerleaders on top, down to the burners. I was probably somewhere in the middle a ROTC/band geek/theater geek. Neither here nor there. Nothing to see, all copies of year books have been destroyed. Move along.

You know what though? Two of the guys I met back then, one the last week of eighth grade and the other when we started ninth grade, they are still my absolute best friends today. When the shit hits the fan, I know they'll be there for me and I'll be there for them. I've been in both their weddings and they'll both be in mine.

When you aren't strong enough to stand up for yourself, or have been knocked down so many times you can't count, you're friends are there to hold you up if necessary.

People say family is the most important thing. Well, that may be true for most people (I'm also lucky enough to have a great family, but that's a topic for another time), you don't get to pick your family. What happens if, and I know people for whom this is true, you don't like your family? What happens if they're assholes? Who do you turn to when the skies are cloudy and the storm's a coming?

Your best friend, that's who. The person you've chosen and who's chosen you.

Yeah, sure, it's nice for these kids to have a big group of people who like them - or who don't particularly hate them reason. But can they count on any one of these "friends" when they need to sneak out of the house? Or sneak back in? Or call for a ride home because they're too wasted to drive? Or who'll physically kick their ass to the ground, take their keys and keep them from driving drunk? Who'll take the ugly one? Or who'll say, "I know you love her man/girl, but are you absolutely sure you want to marry her/him?"

The bonds of best friendship aren't loosely woven through play dates and coaching. They're forged in the fires of shared experience of joy and sorrow.

In the comments tell me about your best friend, or tell me I'm totally wrong and all the kiddies should learn to get along with everyone so no one's feelings get hurt.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Making a list...Doh!

Y'all remember my new toy, right?

So I finally dragged my ass out of bed this morning and made good on my promise to myself to start riding into work. According to the fancy-schmancy computer I got last Friday, The 3.5 miles from door-to-door took me 16 minutes and 48 seconds. For those doing the math, that's an average of 12.4 mph. A little slow, I admit, but I also hit a top speed of 34.2 mph going down a hill. I probably could have gone faster, but I figured work was better than an ER at 6:30 a.m.

I have to say, riding in was the easy part. It was the getting ready that was hard. It probably took me about 90 or so minutes Sunday night to get everything packed into my spiffy new bike commuter pack. Funny thing, after you buy a bike you find all kinds of other little toys you just need...

As I'm packing and, for that matter, all night long, I was going through a checklist of things I needed like a space shuttle pilot getting ready to head to orbit. I figured the best way to do it was to work from top to bottom:

Dress shoes...check.
Skivvy drawers...check.
Skivvy shirt...check.
Shaving bag...check.
Money clip, wallet, ring, pens, security badge, CAC card...check, check, check, check, check and check.

I got up this morning, chowed down on some breakfast, made my lunch, pumped up my tires, ran through my checklist one more time to be sure and headed out the door.

Sixteen minutes later I was rolling into the parking garage. I parked my ride in my office and headed over to the gym next door with a spring in my step to take a shower. Man! What a great way to start the day.

[Shower. Dry. Shave. Dress. I won't bore you with the details.]

I'm feeling good, I'm feeling right and...


Yeah, take a look at that list above. What's missing?

Perhaps a device to, yanno, hold my frigging pants up? Yep, forgot my belt.


Good thing the Target next door opens at 8.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Just kick it

While I normally don't like to shill for a multi-billion dollar company, this commercial is pretty good. Even if it is about soccer. Kidding. I recommend watching it in full-screen mode since blogger refuses to give me a wider space with which to work.

I especially like the divergent realities imagined by England's Wayne Rooney, especially the queen hug, and the appearance by America's favorite donut-loving father of the year. Who among you, I ask, is going to pay more than a shred of attention to the World Cup beginning this week in South Africa?
Just wondering.

During the last cup I was in Northern Ireland and, believe it or not, there was a great national shame when England lost (got their collective heads handed to them on platters). Even the Catholics were embarrassed and they, for the most part, ignore soccer and concentrate on hurling (the game not what happens after too much whiskey) and Gaelic football. That's how much it matters to most of the people around the world.

I'm not one of them, but I will keep track of how the U.S. is doing and I might even watch their opening match. Against England.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Update: Hey folks, just found out the kind people at Well Done are offering me a free pair of tickets to Wine to Water to give away to some lucky person who comments on this post. So anyone who comments by 12:01 a.m. Thursday, June 3 is eligible to win.
No, not the movie.
I meant to write this last week or, barring that, over the weekend, but the beautiful weather and many other things pushed writing a blog post down the list of priorities. Anyway, this is my Opus 300. Three hundred posts since July 31, 2008.

Hope I haven't bored you too, too much.

So much time so little to do. Wait, strike that and reverse. To make things easier I'm going to break them up into more easily readable chunks.

Drink wine, feel good about yourself

Well Done is holding a charity wine-tasting to raise money for its clean-water programs around the globe. You can buy tickets to Wine to Water (a fun name if ever there was one) and check out the squeezings from a couple of Virginia vineyards. Wine to Water is this Thursday, June 3, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Darlington House, 1610 20th Street NW (Dupont Circle).

According to the unsolicited e-mail they sent me inspiring this section of the post, the wine tasting will "include a raffle, silent auction - including a private tasting for six, brunch at Mie N Yu, Bacon Handmade Neckwear, Crooked Monkey T-shirts, original works of art and more...all proceeds going directly to the charity."

Tickets are $10 and you get to try five wines, or one wine five times if you're so inclined, or any combination thereof. Seriously, you're going to spend that much on one overpriced drink at your local this Friday or, worse, five bottles of water between now and then.

The commercial I currently loath

Memo to Volkswagen: Just because all your cars have a "VW" on them doesn't mean people get to punch the crap out of each other every time they seen one of your vehicles. Let me refresh on the rules: The only time you get to punch someone is when you see a VW Bug (the original Beetle or "Slugbug") or a VW Bus (punch buggy elephant). Thankfully there aren't enough of your cars on the road to make this too much of a problem. But, like any modern corporate monstrosity, you've gone and turned something childish and fun into people just punching each other for no reason.

Rolling along

I did not one, but two great bike rides this weekend. Saturday I took the Capital Crescent Trail up to Bethesda and came back down through Rock Creek Park. For me it was a nice two-hour, 25-or-so mile ride (I parked by the Pentagon and rode across the river to the G-town trail head).

The other ride was a big circle of Arlington on the Four Mile Run, Washington & Old Dominion, Custis and Mount Vernon trails. Sadly, I can't find a link to Four Mile Run which, now that the 395 bypass is open, is one of my favorite routes in the area. This ride was a quick 18 miles in about an hour and a half. In case I haven't mentioned it, I really, really love my new bike.

Well, that's all for number 300. And, seriously, check out the wine tasting. We may take turning on the tap for granted, but there's a lot of people who don't know where their next drink (of water) is coming from.

*If anyone bothers to do the math, this is not my 300th post. It's actually my 301st. The 300th was, obviously, the previous one, but I didn't want to clutter up a farewell to a friend by rambling along about numbers. Hence the asterisk. Kinda like Roger Maris in 1961.