Thursday, November 06, 2008

Because You Should

Give to your friends.

I recently surprised two different friends of mine with gifts solely because I could. While that's sounds egotistical, the reasoning behind it is far from that.

My buddy Keith is a huge Green Lantern fan. Recently, a limited edition pair of bookends was released to commemorate the Sinestro Corps. I managed to trade a few of my older and important comics to another collector who happened to have those bookends. While I'll miss those old comics, the look on Keith's face, which was a combination of sheer joy and total bewilderment, made it worthwhile. If you've never seen a grown man returned to a state of being a child on Christmas morning, you're missing out.

At the same time, I made sure Margaret could live out her fantasy as a drummer for Survivor's Eye of the Tiger. Before she even called, I could hear the squeal several miles away. Now I expect her to rock out so hard and become so good that she can destroy anyone while wasted at a party.

I'm not rich, I just care. Why? Because even though I understand that we finish alone, the journey should never be done so. And as selfish as it may seem, the feeling you can get from making someone else happy is intoxicating and more addictive than any drug. An added bonus is the need to use your brain to figure out what a person really likes. It's a fun mystery.

To be clear, however, it doesn't take money to get that feeling. You can just as easily make a gift and give it to someone. One of my former students is about have a birthday. The gift I'm sending is not one I made, but one that (I hope) is thoughtful.

You should care and give because The Beatles may have been right: and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Of course that's just my opinion. I might be wrong.

What I find interesting, however, is the backlash for both the above mentioned gifts. For Keith, the comic book community the person I got the bookends from has turned their attention on me and started taking me to task. While I should care that the value of one of the books I traded is much higher, I don't. In the end, the perceived value of the book is worthless compared to his joy.
The same goes with Margaret. I don't care if people are jealous or think I'm crazy. All I care about is that she's happy, and Indigo Sassypants will now have music to help him chase shadows on the wall.

Be good to your friends, and when you need them, they'll be good to you.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I'd Vote for Him

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Because my son is Lando.

And because we have to save those Tauntauns.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Makes Sense to Me

I was asked to summarize my training as well as this trip.

This picture works. Another two hours of lecture, then I get to hope I have a seat on the plane back to Minneapolis. If I don't have a seat, you better believe I'm buying another ticket or renting a car. Ain't no way I'm missing the election.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

(Still) Training in Dallas

Day 2.

While the actual training is SO much easier than was described to me, the hotel is still causing problems.

My teaching conference is not the only one here. Fannie Mae is also here showing off all the money the government gave them by having a giant party for its members with high end food, entertainment, and gift bags. I managed to crash their party for a while before someone noticed I wasn't wearing the right badge. While my buddy Tom has a ton of anger, my anger is focused more on this crap. Don't tell me there's no money and you need help...then throw a giant party. Sheesh.

Also here are people for the Texas/Texas Tech game, NASCAR fans (there's a race at the Texas Motor Speedway), a law enforcement conference, and some sort of conference for beauty pageant organziers. That's a great deal of people. And because of this, there are a many idiots. Sure, I went and meditated in the garden again. And I had a person ask me if knew my shoes were off. It was if I was special person who could not feel that my socks and shoes were in my hands. I wanted to feel the grass between my toes. However, there two better stories of the other people here and the grief they cause.

We may have fallen back last night for the end of daylight's savings, but the Texas fans were crying into their beers after the Longhorns lost to Texas Tech last night. No one was crying more than the guy next door to me. John Longhorn, as I've been calling him, was extremely drunk when he stumbled into his room this morning. He was also really upset. So he made a phone call and loudly bawled about the University of Texas. Not a small crying, but a full on boo-hoo as if he was Oedipus discovering his history. I heard the entire conversation as well as his..umm..relieving of his beer from his body via his mouth after the phone call. Extremely annoying and loud...and disgusting. However, I was not alone in this. My colleagues mentioned hearing other people stumbling into rooms. There were even extremely drunk fans who beat on sleeping people's doors. No respect for those who were not here to watch the game.
This was a subdued story, the next was not so nice.

There are several bars in the hotel, but the one in the lobby near my elevator has sushi, and I wanted something that would not be greasy. So I bellyed up to the bar and tried to get some Nigiri (Tuna preferably). Yesterday I wore black...not knowing that Texas Tech was playing Texas (and Tech's colors are red and black). Many people at the bar were wasted (the bartender told me that many people actually tailgate AT the hotel. Ok then). So, I'm sitting at the bar when I feel hands and an arm around my back. I don't really liked to be touched, so I jumped out of my seat and pushed away the arm of the person touching me.
It was a wasted gal wearing Texas gear.
"Oh my goood," she slurs. "I so thought you were my boyfriend. You look ssssso much like him."
Now, she didn't see my face, just my back and back of my head. I could have been...Alfred Molina for all she knows.
"I'm not him. Sorry," I reply.
As I sit back down, I hear the cry of the drunk, angry jock.
"What the fuck are you doing hugging my girlfriend?!"
I look over and see a large dude who looks very little like me except that he, too, has a goatee and has dark hair. Other than that, he's thinner, taller, more muscular, and drunker. He's also wearing a TON of Texas gear so his clothes are more of a burnt sienna/orange color. Again, I'm wearing black. If she had seen him earlier in the day, she would know this.
"She hugged me. She thought I was you," I reply and turn back to my food.
"What the fuck?" the Orange Incredible Hulk says to me and starts toward me.
"Dude, calm down and go be with your girlfriend," I say.
"That's it, fucker!" he screams at me. "We're gonna fight. Let's go outside, and I'm going to kick your Red Raider ass!"
"Fuck you," I reply. "I'm not fighting."
"You're gay! You're fucking homo," he yells back.
I bite back the line from Full Metal Jacket about steers and queers and move to the other side of the bar to pay my tab. I'm not fighting. If I get arrested, I'll never hear the end of it.
"You fucking fag!" Texas Tommy keeps screaming at me, "Get back here. I'm gonna fuck you up."
I look over and see his girlfriend trying to calm him down, but to no avail.

Now, the next few minutes are insane. Texas Tommy is still yelling and being asked to be quiet. I'm trying to get away as I don't want to say something to set this guy off, and there are a ton of people watching this. As Hulk keeps yelling, some Texas Tech fan (actually wearing a Texas Tech t-shirt) says, "Why don't you stop yelling, you little bitch."
Hulk's eyes glow orange, and he flips the table in front of him out of the way so he can charge at the Texas Tech fan. Even the guy from Texas Tech was not expecting this. I wonder if he hoped that Texas Tommy would be pissed and attack me.
Remember when I said that there was a law enforcement convention? Well, there were armed officers here. This included a cop near the bar who had a taser. He yells at Texas Tommy to calm down and back off.
"Sir, don't move!" he yells, but Texas Tommy ain't listening.
The guy from Texas Tech actually runs behind the cop, who tells Texas Tommy to, again, stop.
The Incredible Orange Hulk is now going toward the cop who has warned him twice. Out comes the taser.
You can almost see the brain of Texas Tommy kick the alcohol to the side and yell, "Dammit, you fucker, we're in for a real shock now."
The eyes go wide as the taser is fired, and Texas Tommy hits the floor.
At this point, I put a little sping in my step just in case.
Fun times.

As for the training... well, I'm not getting anything new. The teacher is a wonderfully nice guy from Vancouver, but even he said to me today that I am way ahead of the people in my class. I actually finished my group's unit plan today because I wanted to get done. Though I love my job, I just don't understand how taxpayer money can go this. I could have done this in cheaper. Oh well. At least I got a nice walk in the garden.


Goodbye Old Friend

Goodbye to possibly my favorite cartoon character of all time.

When I was kid, Bloom County was my favorite Sunday comic. I didn't always get the jokes ("Who's Gregory Peck?" I used to ask my sister), but Opus, Bill, Portnoy (who I thought was named after the novel), and Binkley always did something I could understand. That is the genius of Berkeley Breathed: his comics are funny on multiple levels. Many were political, but you could still appreciate the humor without knowing who the heck Jeane Kirkpatrick is. It helps, but it isn't necessary.
In one of the happiest moments of my life, I went to a used bookstore where I stumbled upon a signed copy of the first Bloom County collection. I still have it, and though he is nortorious for being very private, I hope I can actually thank him in person one day.

Opus gets a good ending. He's tucked into bed in what is Lando's favorite book: Goodnight Moon.

In the end, the Bloom County creator tied his work to the Humane Society in order to help protect animals. If you look at his work, you'll see how much he cares about animals and their treatment. There was even a contest for the last strip. And it makes sense. Make sure you take care of the animals, because of the joy they have brought you.

So thank you, Mr. Breathed. Opus got a happy ending, which I'm happy about. I'm sad that the strip is ending, but if you right more books like Mars Needs Moms, I will be very happy to keep reading them to my son.

Happy trails, Opus.