Archive for February, 2011

Cloudy Weather

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Last week I took my camera and went out shooting over a course of two days and a few hundred miles. I saw many an orchard in bloom, seas of white and pink blossoms, that left me tempted to say that spring is in the air.

Except that it isn’t. It’s actually about as cold now as it’s been at anytime this winter. The weather service is saying there’s a chance of snow in San Francisco this weekend. So what’s with the trees? Are they just as impatient as the people around me for winter to be over? Do they have a better handle on the future weather than groundhogs?

For these and other questions I bravely sought answers from God. She says she doesn’t like to talk about the weather. She prefers to stick to safe subjects like religion and politics. I wonder if she’s been getting a lot of prayers about global climate change lately?

The Towel Defense

Friday, February 18th, 2011

For as long as I can remember television news has been about trying to keep us scared. Fox News may have brought the art to a new level but it’s been a problem for a lot longer than they’ve been around. The pervasive sense of fear that’s become normal for us Americans has been manifesting itself in ways both big and small for quite some time now.

Some of the big ways are pretty obvious, the passage of the PATRIOT act, the hysteria over illegal immigrants, even the Tea Party. And while I’m mentioning the Tea Party, does it make sense to name a political movement after an event famously presided over by a madman catering to rabbits and mice? Oh, never mind.

Lately, God and I have been watching one of the smaller ways that the fear bubbles up out of our collective unconscious. People have become so afraid of germs that they’ve invented a new ritual. After they wash up in public bathrooms they dry their hands with the paper towels, throw them in the trash, and then take another one. They use this extra towel to open the door, convinced that it will protect them from life-threatening disease by shielding them from whatever germs have been deposited on the door handle by anyone before them that did not wash their hands. If there’s a trash bin close enough they’ll toss the towel into it and scamper through the doorway before the door can shut, but if there isn’t, they’ll blithely toss the paper onto the restroom floor.

I swear, one of these days I expect to see a new “fad” of people wearing latex gloves whenever they leave their homes.

These people have allowed their own paranoia and inflated sense of self-worth to get them to abandon their manners and I say shame on them. Sure lots of people get sick every day from germs that they’ve picked up somewhere, but God assures me that the number of them that get those germs from bathroom door handles is infinitesimal, and the number of people that save themselves from a few days of flu or a night’s bout of Montezuma’s Revenge by this paper towel trick is too small to measure.

If you’re one of these people, God and I have a message for you: Get over it and get a life. You’re not really protecting yourself, you’re not really that important anyway, and if you stop worrying about it so much, you just might find yourself smiling a little more, enjoying your life a little more.

Sock it to Me

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Today’s message from God: Matching socks make the world a little more boring.

Boring is bad. In extreme cases it kills. If you’ve ever driven the I-5 from Bakersfield to Sacramento, you should know what I mean. This is a stretch of road that practically defines monotony, running mostly straight as an arrow through flat farmland. It’s no wonder people fall asleep at the wheel.

But I digress. And did you ever notice that the word “monotony” itself is kind of monotonous? What with that “every other letter is an ‘O'” thing going on. But I digress again.

Back on message: God and I would like to encourage everyone to put some more diversity into your wardrobe. Sure as kids we boys were harshly taught, through laughter and derision, that deviating from prescribed wardrobes was social suicide, but we can rise beyond our programming. I’m not asking you to put on a hand selected cacophony of divergent styles and colors worthy of a clown (not that there’s anything wrong with that), just take a small step; wear that silly hat you bought on a whim at Disneyland, buy a new Hawaiian shirt, or just wear mismatched socks. It’s not just good for you, it’s good for all of us.

Watch It

Friday, February 4th, 2011

I mentioned to God that I’m going to Disneyland this weekend. It’s what I do every time the Superbowl rolls around, so she probably already knew that, but still, I like to keep her informed.

Now that I’m living up in the Bay Area, going to Disneyland is a little more involved than when I was living in L.A. In particular, there’s packing involved. I have to look through my tee-shirt collection and figure out which ones I’m going to wear. While I was making my selections, God reached into one of my drawers and pulled out an old Mickey Mouse pocket watch of mine. I’ve never really liked wristwatches, so fairly early on I switched to pocket watches. I expected her to ask me why I don’t carry a watch anymore, and was ready to tell her that it was because my phone has replaced not just my music player but has also become my timepiece.

But she had something else in mind entirely.

She asked me if I realized that a Mickey Mouse watch is an oxymoronic confluence of analogies. I thought about it for a minute and finally just said, “whatever are you talking about?” She explained it to me and now I’m going to tell you. It doesn’t have the pith of a good punchline, but it’s still kind of interesting. When we like to talk about precision, or about careful timing, we say that something has gone off like clockwork. When we want to say something lacks precision or has happened chaotically, we describe it as Mickey Mouse. So the Mickey Mouse watch embodies both the notions of precision and lack of precision, of careful execution and careless accomplishment. It is an oxymoron unto itself, yet rarely noted as such, but well, now you know.