Wednesday, January 28, 2009
1. Clif Bars. Ok, so I know I've told some people to eat them because they have some good nutrition, including vitamins, protein, not a lot of fat, sugar or calories, etc. Turns out, however, that even though they are good for you, they could kill you. Yes, sir, that is true. It seems that the peanuts they use to make Clif Bars have been found to be poisonous, and those peanuts have led to at least 6 deaths and nearly 250 injuries. Look it up if you don't want to take my word for it. Go ahead, we'll wait for you. Satisfied? Believe me now? Thank you. Back to my complaints. You know what I look for in a breakfast bar? Nutrition, convenience, not too much sugar, and no threat of death. Is that too much to ask? Surely, it is not. I received a letter from Sam's Club, where I bought a moderate to enormous sized container of Clif Bars a few months ago, informing me of the recall of Clif Bars and other products that contained those contaminated peanuts. Well, if I already ate most of those Clif Bars over the period of the past few months, can I still get a full refund? I doubt it. I'm just hoping I don't die. But that really grinds my gears.
2. Journalists, and, no, that does include me, who complain about the loss of innocence and purity in sports because people use steroids or human growth hormone. Wait, wait a minute...when billions of dollars are on the line, and a few people come close to the ethical line or go well beyond it, and you're surprised, does that mean you are more ethical than everyone else who doesn't care or, are you, as I submit, either looking for a cheap column or unable to pull the wool from over your eyes? (That was a long sentence, but I think it's grammatically correct) Really, people, who are the same as human beings, cheated? When billions of dollars are on the line? No effing way. Really? Get over it, journalists. Put down your coffee and Viagra if you don't believe in performance enhancement. Sorry to dip below the fray. Sports are entertainment, pure and simple. If you can't figure that out, you're probably why newspapers are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy (read: you're a moron, chief). Don't go looking for purity in sports because you're missing something in your life. At the same time, don't go looking to bring down people because you're still mad your father didn't play catch with you. Sports are like the movies, or music, or anything else. Does anyone care that Kurt Cobain was strung out on drugs? Well, other than Courtney Love, I suppose, would be a more fair question, but still. Louis Armstrong was busted for possession of marijuana. Does that make his trumpet sound any less spectacular? Ray Charles did heroin. Get over it. It's their life. Let them do what they want. It's not hurting you. If athletes are the moral beacon in society, we're going to need a bailout for more than just GM. You're hypocrite and a buffoon.
3. People who go the wrong way in the communications hierarchy. In my opinion, here is the order from least formal to most formal (correct me if I'm wrong): instant message, text message, email, phone call. So, if I send you an email, you can reply to my email or call me back (slight exception is to reply to a Gmail email with g-chat if both people are green [if that made no sense to you, get with the freakin' times, Susie Q]). If I call you and leave a message, unless you can't use the phone (crowded place, meeting, class, etc) you need to return my call (I'd like to hold people to the 24 hour rule for returning calls, but lately I've been guilty of not calling people back soon enough, so I won't complain about people like Laura A. Nicholson). Another exception lies here: if the caller does not leave a voicemail, the informal 24 hour requirement is waived and the need to maintain communication hierarchy is also waived. Feel free to respond any way you wish. Hell, send a message in Morse Code if you know how(Bernard sure did know how). You can always go up the ladder, but you shouldn't go down the ladder. It's rude, and people notice.
4. People who walk around school or anywhere else with the iPod ear buds dangling around their neck or shoulder. I understand and I'm very impressed that you have an iPod. You look like an idiot. Take those off and put them in your pocket. Nobody thinks you're seconds away from listening to your stupid music anyway, so give it a rest. If you can't wait that long to listen to more of (quick, name somebody or some group the kids these days are listening to...[Latin class?])Rick Astley or The Alan Parson's Project, then just stay hell at home.
5. Sweat pants to school every day. Look, if you're going to the gym before or after class and you don't have time to change (or shower, for that matter) once in a while, it's understandable. Maybe you came from work and are going to the gym after class and won't have time to change. The reasons, the legitimate ones, at least, are few and far between. But if you're cruising around in your sweats all day every day, it's time to readdress your priorities. Now, I'm not one to be confused with a slave to fashion. But I wear slacks most days of the week in a professional setting. Jeans are also acceptable for men. Ladies, feel free to wear anything that is not also worn at the Olympics. It can't be that hard to find jeans or pants. You just look like you've given up on society. For God's sake, wear something that doesn't have an elastic drawstring out of the house once in a while, you might feel like an adult.
Sub-part to #5 is weekend morning sweat pants or basketball shorts in any social setting guy. Ok, going to the grocery store is not a formal event, but you don't need to wear the scrubs you slept in. You're not a doctor. You're lazy. When people, especially men because it's so easy for us to put on some jeans, go out to eat for a weekend breakfast or brunch and feel the need to wear what they slept in and sip on a hat, I'm offended. I know you just rolled out of bed. Your trucker hat isn't fooling anyone. You look like a bum. Nobody is asking for your tuxedo and polished beaver fur top hat, but how about something with a zipper?
Bonus complaint goes to the guy who lives below my apartment who has the worst cough this side of tuberculosis. Dude, I'm giving you Nyquil if you keep coughing. Take a coughdrops or something. Or better yet, see a doctor. If you've recently been on the Oregon Trail, you're screwed. But you're really grinding my gears.
Phew, I feel better.
Monday, January 26, 2009
1. Relax and take it easy. Don’t get caught up in hollow conceits such as “doing something with your life.” Such twaddle is outmoded and a sure formula for disappointment.
2. Whatever it is you pursue, try to do it just well enough to remain in the middle third of the field. Keep your thoughts and ideas to yourself and don’t ask questions. Remember, the squeaky wheel is the first one to be replaced.
3. Size people up quickly, and develop rigid attitudes based on your first impression. If you try to delve deeper and get to “know” people, you’re asking for trouble.
4. Don’t fall for that superstitious nonsense about treating people the way you would like to be treated. It is a transparently narcissistic approach, and may be the sign of a weak mind.
5. Spend as much time as you can pleading and impressing others, even if it makes you unhappy. Pay special attention to shallow manipulators who can do you the most harm. Remember, in the overall scheme, you count for very little.
6. Surround yourself with inferiors and losers. Not only will you look good by comparison, but they will look up to you, and that will make you feel better.
7. Don’t buy into the sentimental notion that everyone has shortcomings; it’s the surest way of undermining yourself. Remember, the really best people have no defects. If you’re not perfect, something is wrong.
8. If by some off chance you do detect a few faults, first, accept the fact that you are probably deeply flawed. Then make a list of your faults and dwell on them. Carry the list around and try to think of things to add. Blame yourself for everything.
9. Beware of intuition and gut instincts, they are completely unreliable. Instead, develop preconceived notions and don’t waver unless someone tells you to. Then change your mind and adopt their point of view. But only if they seem to know what they’re talking about.
10. Never give up on an idea simply because it is bad and doesn’t work. Cling to it even when it is hopeless. Anyone can cut and run, but it takes a very special person to stay with something that is stupid and harmful.
11. Always remember, today doesn’t count. Trying to make something out of today only robs you of precious time that could be spent daydreaming or resting up.
12. Try to dwell on the past. Think of all the mistakes you’ve made, and how much better it would be if you hadn’t made them. Think of what you should have done, and blame yourself for not doing so. And don’t go easy. Be really hard on yourself.
13. If by chance you make a fresh mistake, especially a costly one, try to repeat it a few times so you become familiar with it and can do it easily in the future. Write it down. Put it with your list of faults.
14. Beware also of the dangerous trap of looking ahead; it will only get you in trouble. Instead, try to drift along from day to day in a meandering fashion. Don’t get sidetracked with some foolish “plan.”
15. Finally, enjoy yourself all the time, and do whatever you want. Don’t be seduced by that mindless chatter going around about “responsibility.” That’s exactly the sort of thing that can ruin your life.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I also call strangers nicknames. Most of these make fun of strangers that I have judged for almost always a superficial reason (which almost always turns out to be correct, even if Will McMillan thinks I judge people too quickly).
There are certain rules for nicknames. If we don't have rules, people, we descend into chaos. A parallel is to calling shotgun. One of the most important rules for calling shotgun is you have to be in view of the car to call shotgun. It's black and white, folks. In any event, on to the nickname rules (note: this is the first in a series of Rules to Live By posts)
1. You cannot give yourself a nickname. If you decide, for example, on the first day of college that you would like to be known as Cougar, even though you have never been called Cougar before, that nickname does not count. A self-given nickname is a sign of idiocy. You might as well tell people to call you an idiot. You know what would happen in this purely hypothetical scenario? Cougar gets turned into something much less flattering. Which leads me to the next rule.
2. Rhyming with a person's name or mispronouncing somebody's name does in fact count as a nickname. I'll use myself as an example. I've been called Mr. Figs for coming up on three years. Granted, it hasn't caught on as well as Corey Maggette'e nickname, but it's out there.
3. Natural. The nickname can't be forced. It has to flow. Recently, one of my law school buddies nearly got stuck with the nickname Frenchy because he wore a beret. The rest of us tried to call him Frenchy, but it just didn't stick. So, it went by the wayside. Closely related is the next rule...
4. You can't fight the bestowing of a nickname. This same friend who shall remain nameless (it's Leighton [whoops]) didn't like Frenchy and tried to avoid it. That only pushed the rest of us to pushing the nickname on him out of semi-spite; we hoped he would surrender to the nickname, but it didn't happen. But, when rules 3 and 4 clash, 3 wins.
5. Clarity. The justification behind a person getting a nickname needs to be clear. If you have to explain the nickname, it's not a good one. Now, what kind of a lawyer would I be if I didn't have an exception to my own rule? Here's the exception folks: if the back story is embarrassing or hilarious, the nickname counts. Also, there is a Grandfather clause. If the nickname dates back more than ten years, whatever the reason is, and the person still answers to the nickname, it's a true nickname. Longevity is a sign of a truly great nickname. Either that, or worthless unoriginal friends. If people know a person by the nickname predominantly, its gold (Sweater).
6. No jumping on the bandwagon. You can't just jump on to somebody else's nickname, unless it is by express invitation. If you don't know why somebody is called a nickname, you can't call them that.
7. You cannot refer to yourself by your nickname. This one is fairly straight forward. Unless you're Shaq, you can't call yourself your own nickname.
8. Changing languages is entirely appropriate. And then changing it back to English is even better. I'll explain this by way of example. Trey got the nickname, "da le" (which, in Spanish, means, "kick it"). This nickname was chanted and yelled. It was a good one. But, at some point, I changed it to Dale. As in Earnhardt. And, it works. If you figure out how to call somebody "Dark Horse" in Mandarin, I say go for it.
9. KISS. Keep it short, stupid. You have to limit the nickname. It can't be a sentence or a story. 3 words, max (not including "the" or "a").
10. Be original. Put a little thought into a nickname. Not too much, but some. It's a delicate balance. Chief, while funny, is not a nickname. Neither is ace, slick, boss, or champ. Feel free to use these monikers, but I think its best to use these when you either don't know the person's name or are using it derisively. On the other hand, played correctly, "Something McSomethingerson" can be hilarious [for example, if you see somebody wearing a dumb hat and sporting a beard, calling them Hatty McBearderson is both funny and appropriate).
Saturday, January 17, 2009
We were sitting at a table close to the stage. David and I were discussing world affairs, as I recall (It was baseball). The "singers" on stage were trying to start the classic piano bar song "Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks while we talked. Apparently, we (read: me) were (was) talking so loudly they couldn't get the song started. So, one of the "singers" with a microphone turns to us and says either shut up or come up here and sing. So, turning to the first of those three disclaimers, I talk loudly. Check. Talking loudly enough to be called out by the "singer" at the piano bar doesn't seem like that much of a stretch. Talking quietly or in my inside voice has never been one of my strengths.
David and I, after briefly considering our options, jump onto the stage. We were not going to be embarrassed by our behavior or shamed into being quiet by that pony-tailed "singer". Another disclaimer, check. I was never going to see the people at that place again. I would never eat there, anyway.
So, the "lead" "singer" handed us a mic and said, get to it. I turned back to him and said, how about some background music, chief? You're sitting at a piano.
So, he starts the song. David and I do not remember how the song starts. I turn back to the piano man and ask him, how about a running start? Again, not off to the best start. Joe Santini, a scholar and a gentleman, comes running onto the stage to help out. We eventually start the song, belting out as many of the lyrics as we can. Remember, there was no karaoke machine. This was from our memory. I'm thinking to myself, hey, we're doing a pretty good job. American Idol, here we come.
We sing the first two verses. The "singer" stops us. He asks the audience, should these guys continue? A round of applause and some people yelling for us. I'm thinking, hey, that's pretty good. An Italian, a Jewish guy and a Brown guy really can sing Country music. What a country.
The singer then asks, should these guys stop singing? A chorus of boos come down, loud as anything you've ever heard. Boo'd off stage!! Now, I can only blame myself. I've been told I have the singing voice of an angel, but I realize now that was all lies. All that Rock Band practice for nothing. Boo'd off of the stage!!!
We didn't get a prize. We didn't get a thank you. We got boo'd and yelled at by strangers. Now, that's just rude. But, we didn't let that "singer" tell us to be quiet. We showed him.
(Photo courtesy of Sara. Used with permission. Thank you.)
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Disclaimer: I know nothing about fashion. I shop at one store. I wear basically the same 3 things every day of the week. But, on to my point...
I realize that a lot of, well, let's call them "idiots" before I say something inappropriate or offensive, form their hair into a greasy Mohawk of sorts. I'm not sure the reason for this. Perhaps they are not committed enough to shave their head minus one strip down the middle. Perhaps it has something to do with the emo movement (I just learned that one. Also, is it a movement? I don't really care, but I am somewhat curious).
What's the deal with that hair style? These people look terrible.
I wonder if when black people (African American, sorry) shave their heads (a la Von Wafer [ one of maybe 4 to 6 Houston Rockets who cannot be categorized as geldings]) and leave a strip down the middle its called a blackhawk?
This is not a good look, people. It really grinds my gears.
First year, Dean Wheeler held class in what I can only describe as a shock and awe campaign. He called on nearly 30 people every class, at seemingly the EXACT moment their attention wavered, or they looked away. No matter if the man's back was turned, he knew, he just knew, you were not paying him pull attention. He conducted class in barely more than a whisper, so you were hanging on every word he said. It didn't matter if he called on you the first day, you were still fair game any other day (I would know, he called on me every week). Even better, if you didn't know, sometimes you would be granted a life line. Dean Wheeler would ask, do you have a friend you'd like to call on? Of course, the first two times somebody was asked this (Nate and Nathan...did you think I would forget?), they said, uh, well, I know Vik. Dean Wheeler looked over at me, and smiled, each time. Ahh yes, he'd say, Mr. Figs. What do you have to add today?
It didn't matter if you told him you didn't know, because it was in the confines of your mind. It didn't matter if you hadn't read, because the book was not available in the bookstore, because it was in the confines of your mind.
If you gave him the right answer right off the bat, he would mess with you. Are you sure, he'd say, questioning your belief in your own answer. You could never qualify a statement with "I think" or "I believe" and you sure could never end a sentence with a question mark in your voice.
If you rambled something semi-coherent or BS'd him, he was on to you. That's when he would press you, with his famous line, when you say what you say, what are you saying?
He knew he could steer the direction in a certain way by calling on certain people. If he wanted to see what a person I'd like to call a moron but won't thought, he would call on Barrero (spelling?) or Griffin (he of "well, they'd have to get him for something" fame"). If you had a ridiculous hypothetical (we don't need to go there, but it involves a rocket launcher), he knew exactly when to call on you.
This was the class where Phil dented my book when he became so enraged I didn't save his seat (which I never promised to do!!!). If you want that whole story, you'll have to wait till another time. This was also the class in which the famous rifle (raffle) story took place.
Which brings me to my point. I always thought Dean Wheeler was hard on us because we were first year students. We knew he cared, but he was tough on us. Other professors have admitted to being harder on first year students that upper level students. It all comes with the territory, we thought. It's just a rite of passage, I thought.
Ole Dean Wheeler does the same thing in Corporate and White Collar Crime. He called on me three times today, buzzed somebody who didn't have the book, asked somebody else when they say what they say, what are they saying? He told one girl she knew after she said she didn't. He didn't say in the "confines of your mind" but I hoped he would.
As of now, it feels like the completing of a circle or the proper end to the cycle. Start with Dean Wheeler, end with Dean Wheeler. Is his style going to get old now that I'm not scared? I don't know. I already know I'm not terribly excited about random recitation.
If you have any other Wheeler-isms, please leave comments. Yes, I remember the magic trick, I just didn't feel like typing it up.
Monday, January 5, 2009
All jokes aside, Luke (or Alok, or George, or Luke-George, or the boy, or Doc) starts his surgical rotation today, at 545am. Someone recently remarked that they weren't ready for my little brother to be a doctor yet (happy birthday, by the way, Betsy) and I initially agreed. After all, I still remember when he was telling bad jokes, rolling his eyes at me, and acting like an elitist. What's that? You're saying that was not that long ago? It was actually how he spent Christmas break? Oh, well, let's move on.
That kid, who put off getting a haircut for nearly 2 months, is going to be a doctor? That didn't seem right. The same kid who hid my bike helmet under his bed so we would get driven to elementary school is going to be scrubbing in later this morning? The guy who gave our mother a Mother's Day gift in November (when he was 23, even) is going to be removing people's gall bladders? Turns out, he's ready, and then some. He's surely smart enough and he definitely works harder than anyone else I know.
I told him today how proud I was of him. If you're not an older brother (or sister, I suppose [I've been called worse than a sexist, thank you very much]) you won't really get this till you have kids, I think. By way of background, I've always been the "big" in big brother. I've tried to look out for Luke. He only got a bad time if I was the one leading it on. Ask him about the time he was hoisted by his shirt collar, only to be put down and have his collar straightened on his first day at SJS, when he announced his last name. I protected him. I tried to, at least.
I have a photo on my shelf of the two of us in the Bahamas. He's 6 or 7, I'm 8 or 9. The white sand and blue water are in the background. He doesn't even come up to my shoulder. I've got my arm around his shoulders, and he's hugging me and showing his gap-tooth smile. He had lost three teeth in one day (quite a feat but not the point I'm making here) but he's still smiling. It's a good memory, no doubt, but a memory of a little kid. My point is, I often remember him as that little brother, the young child, the one who threw the second water balloon, who was there to play video games with, the one who played one on one with me in the driveway, the one who played neighborhood football, and on and on.
That's not to say he's still not those things (other than a little kid [he's almost 25 years old and he's 6'1, for chrissake!]). But, he will be operating on people soon. And he'll be a doctor (because Baylor College of Medicine and the American Medical Association say so, not just because he says so or tries to charge you $1200 for 2 Dayquil and a glass of water[which he tried Saturday!!]) sooner than you know it.
So, on the rare chance you see him (he's gonna be at the hospital for the next ten years), tell him congratulations. Or send him an email or text message. Tell him he needs a haircut. Make some joke about him NEVER smiling in photos since the age of 10, or about him complaining about his old bones at the age of 13. But don't forget to tell him you're proud of him. Proud of the doctor he will be. And the man he already is.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
This is really my last Christmas break. Take a moment, I'll wait. So, I'm heading to my last semester (then the bar exam, oh crap!!) and then to a real job. Not an intern, not a clerk. A lawyer. Kinda scary, I know. So, even though I've been sick for most of break and now on antibiotics, I took some time to enjoy the break. Here are some of the highlights, at least those that are family friendly and won't hurt any feelings (no mention of hats, hurricanes, red skin, sweat pants, I promise).
1. The above pictured jacket. Now, that, folks, is a jacket. It would have gone well with a dinosaur mask, but since roughly 3 people in America get that joke, I'll just move on.
2. In New Orleans, for New Year's, Trey and I, both wearing UT shirts, are in the elevator. There is nobody else in the elevator. A guy tried to get on from the 3rd floor. He's wearing an OU shirt. There's plenty of room in the elevator. He looks at us, checking in at a combined 12 feet plus, and 500 pounds plus, and announces to no one in particular. "I'll take the next one." Before I say anything negative, I'll just move on. I'll only add I'm surprised he didn't cheat his way into the national elevator championship or into winning the elevator trophy.
3. Di Di Mau. Ok, if you haven't seen this movie, it sounds promising. DeNiro, Walken, Fredo, Vietnam War era. Billed as a classic movie. In the IMDB top 250. As it turns out, other than this scene, the movie pretty much sucks. Sure, seeing Walken and Bobby DiNero getting slapped around is hilarious, especially by a guy whose name is Po Pau Pee. I'm serious, look that one up if you don't want to take my word for it. But, what did come from this movie is a new family tradition. Slapping somebody (not hard enough to really hurt) and shouting "di di mau." I'm already looking forward to next Thanksgiving. Consider yourself warned, Jay.
4. Camellia Grill. Yes, it's been open since May. Yes, I've been there since May. But, upon returning this break, it was a truly memorable occasion. One of the chefs, when he saw me, did a double take, told me he thought he saw a ghost, and came out from behind the counter. We exchanged one of those combination handshake hugs that are so popular these days. One of the other guys did the same thing. We all ate omelets as big as our faces, and good night, were they good. If I can steal a line from Trey, and I'm pretty sure I can, I'd like to meet the man who decided to put chili on an omelet. I'd like to meet that man and shake his hand/give him a hug. That man is a hero.
5. Winning two fantasy football leagues. That's really more of a highlight for me, but since this is my blog, I'm adding it to the list. I'm sure you'll be ok.
6. The British girl who showed up with Wesley Hunt at my birthday party. Ok, I'll admit it, it is ironic that I'm an anglophile, but man, anybody with a British accent is instantly the most interesting person in the room. But when they run their mouth (I almost said something that rhymed with "walk spit" [good thing I didn't, this is a family blog]), it's even more fun. I'll also admit hearing British people talk "encourages" (I'm fine with that word) me to use my British accent. Now, if you've ever met my dad, you'll know I come by my accent impersonation "skills" honestly. My British accent is not that strong. Let's leave it at that. But, nonetheless, I decided to try my accent. It wasn't that bad, despite what some might say. I figure if you yell it as loud as possible, nobody will be able to tell you how bad it is. Especially if it's your birthday. But, I'm rambling.
7. Youtube shenanigans. I love Youtube -- Broadcast yourself. Now, there are some funny videos that I won't put on here. This one is hilarious, not that offensive, and it passed our censors (it's only me, guys). Enjoy. Any linked video you may get to from there is not our fault (right Jennifer? We're good here? Solid legal ground?).
I hope everyone had a great 2008 and has a better 2009.