Monday, April 30, 2012

Stair Master 2012

For the second year in a row I had to ask myself "What the hell am I doing here?" while lining up early on a Saturday morning to climb the stairs of one of Atlanta's tallest skyscrapers. Then I saw the fire truck pull up and remembered... the firemen.

I wrote last year about participating in the American Lung Association's Fight For Air Climb. It's a vertical race to the top of a tall building. The cause is good and the rewards are typical: a T-shirt, free bananas and Powerade, perky volunteers that never stop reassuring you that "you can do it!"

And Firemen. Each year fire stations from all around Atlanta participate in the event as well. Only they do it hardcore. They wait until the civilian participants have finished consuming all the oxygen in the stairwell, leaving in its place their own special athletic stank. And they do the climb in their full fire-fighting gear.


Julie talked JB and me into participating last year. We all paid the minimum $100 for the honor since none of us bothered to ask anyone to sponsor us. Julie's excuse was that she just raised a bunch of money to climb the Hancock Tower in Chicago, and didn't want to annoy her friends again so soon. Her excuse was way better than mine. I just hate asking people for money.

But JB was inspired last year and said he was going to raise a bunch of money next time. Whatever. I should have learned by now to never dismiss JB when he says he's going to do something. This year he was the largest individual, non-team fundraiser. This achievement earned him the right to be the first person up the stairs with all the oxygen his little lungs could handle.

Yup, hardcore.
Of course, JB's fundraising efforts made it hard for me to ask our mutual friends for a follow-up donation. "That's okay," I said, "I'll hit up my twitter friends."

I had this fantasy that all the tweeps I'd ever helped with their various fund-raising runs, walks and shavings would fall all over themselves to return the favor. I even pictured it playing out in black and while, like the final scene of "It's a Wonderful Life".

I've since created a new Twitter profile called @SardonicCricket. Next time any of my tweets fall so flat, I'm going to switch accounts and chirp at myself.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Punch & Doody

I know, I'm a slacker. The last time I updated my blog I was starting an April photo-a-day challenge. That didn't last long. I guess I was sort of demotivated by Facebook's billion dollar acquisition of Instagram.

Facebook seems to have a knack for taking a good thing and strangling it with incremental "improvements" and advertising. I hold no hope that they'll not do the same to Instagram. Which is too bad, because I really like Instagram.

As my dear mother used to say, "they crapped in the punch bowl". She was always saying stuff like that. Thanks to her, that's the mental image I see whenever I hear "party pooper". I always assumed that's how the term party pooper originated, but now I'm not so sure.

Most definitions describe a party pooper as a person who attenuates the general enjoyment of a party by refusing, either actively or passively, to participate in the merriment of the occasion. A "Debbie Downer" if you will. But Mom's homespun aphorism offers an alternate definition:

I submit that party pooper can also refer to an individual or small group who has the ability (or predisposition) to diminish everyone's enjoyment of a good thing by failing to moderate their own enthusiasm for that very thing.

We all know party poopers like that. Maybe your friend with the low alcohol tolerance and matching self-esteem whom you hesitantly agree to introduce to your work colleague while praying this time she'll at least make it to his car before the projectile vomiting begins.

Or the uncle who firmly believes no pool party is too classy for skinny dipping -- especially not your High School Graduation/18th Birthday party -- even if he has to be the one to get the ball rolling with a hairy-ass cannonball.

The sister-in-law (make that ex-sister-in-law) who hikes up her wedding dress to literally kick some waiter ass for trying to serve wedding cake with salad forks.

An old school chum who you fondly remember never could control his indoor voice in frat house debates. But you never noticed his vaguely misogynist, slightly homophobic, explicitly right-wing opinions until he come to town on business and you introduced him to your current circle of friends.

Yes, we all know party poopers like that.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Photo A Day April

For the first time, I'm participating in a photo challenge. I've been posting these on Instagram and I'll post them here as well. My poor blog has been feeling neglected with so much of my attention lately focussed on social apps. Why shouldn't it see some of the action too?

This reminds me that I've been toying with the idea of a blog challenge. Hopefully I'll be able to commit to these challenges better than I have my P90X.

#photoadayapril Day 1: My Reflection

#photoadayapril Day 2: Color

From last April's Dogwood Festival.

#photoadayapril Day 3: Mail

NEVER fuck with someone who's done hard time.

#photoadayapril Day 4: Someone who makes me happy


Monday, April 2, 2012

Chapstick For The Soul

Since I replaced the wall-to-wall carpeting in the bedroom last Fall with wood-like flooring, I've been struggling to keep that room free of clutter. While I've been mostly successful, I realize all I've really done is concentrate the clutter in the remaining rooms of the house.

Now I'm not pointing fingers. There's plenty of blame to go around. Being ADD, I know my shortcomings in this regard. And as an engineer, my instinctive solution is to implement procedures and processes designed to organize our space and streamline our daily routines. Procedures and processes which the JB blithely ignores.

For example, I designated the side table in the foyer to the processing of incoming mail. All mail which comes into the house goes into the classy leather "in" tray I picked up at Pottery Barn specifically for this purpose. Under the side table there's a small matching leather trash bin and a shredder. No mail should pass the foyer unopened and unprocessed.

In reality I find piles of unopened mail, discount flyers and Martha Steward's Living on dining room chairs, between sofa cushions, in the closet, and on the tank behind the toilet. My classy leather tray next to the front door is filled with mittens and chapstick. Don't ask me who wears mittens in Atlanta, because I don't know.

And the chapstick. Not Chapstick brand chapstick mind you, but generic sticks of lip balm. Something else I almost never use yet can't seem to escape. They're everywhere. I used to put the chapstick I'd find into JB's nightstand drawer until I realized after it filled up that he doesn't know he has a drawer in his nightstand.

Where does this perpetual supply of mouth wax come from?

See, JB is a flight attendant. I'm convinced there's an employee lip balm dispensary at the airport, every flight attendant's first stop when checking in. Every time JB comes home from a trip, he's carrying at least two more chapsticks than he had when he left. I guarantee it.

And it's not just chapstick. Beyond all logic or reason, JB feels the need to bring home all the toiletries he encounters in every hotel room in which he ever stays. I've never in my life used a shower cap, and I've never seen JB use a shower cap. Why for the love of Jesus do we have a cabinet full of shower caps?

Looking back, I now recall what triggered this hoarding spree. A friend was doing volunteer work at a women's shelter and asked JB to collect these hotel toiletry items for her cause. That was eight years ago and our friend has since transitioned from social warrior to soccer mom. Yet the teeny-tiny toiletries keep rolling in.

A few years ago, after a fit of Spring cleaning, I tried to find a women's shelter which I expected to gladly accept my Hefty bag of miniature soaps, shampoos and lotions. I quickly learned such facilities are naturally skittish of strange men calling to ask where they're located. It's like calling Alfred to say I baked Batman a bundt cake, would it be okay if I dropped it by the Cave while running errands in the neighborhood? Now I know how the Joker feels.

So last week when I saw the donation barrel du jour in the office lobby was asking for toiletry items for a women's shelter, I was ecstatic. This weekend I gathered up all the soaps, shampoos, tooth brushes, moisturizers, eye shades and chapsticks I could find into two large shopping bags. I threw in a couple dozen shower caps for good measure. I even tossed in a stack of hotel notepads and a two handfuls of matching pens. On the way out the door, I topped off my sack o' loot with a couple pairs of mittens.

When I got to the office this morning, I found last week's barrel was gone. In it's place was a new barrel asking for "gently worn" shoes. What the...? I scratched my head for a minute. Fuck it. I looked both ways and dropped both sacks in the barrel.

Waiting nonchalantly for the elevator, I felt a twinge of guilt imagining someday passing a down-on-his-luck person wearing mittens, shiny lips and two shower caps on his feet.

I think I have a couple pairs of shoes I can spare. In fact, I know I do.