Showing posts with label Humor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Humor. Show all posts

Friday, June 25, 2010

Smile Power and a Shirtless Biker Dude

Two observations from my day:

There is a woman I work with, probably in her mid to late fifties, who is easily the loveliest woman her age I have seen. It's because she smiles so much. Every time you talk to her, no matter how hard her day or week or month is going, she smiles. She faithfully asks how you are doing, and wants to know the answer. She will sympathize if something is wrong, laugh with you at something funny, and rejoice with you when things go well. She radiates joy, and it has left a decades-long imprint on her face. I have no doubt she will still be beautiful when she is 80.

Most of us struggle to hold that joy for a few hours, much less days or weeks or months. This woman, I know from conversation, finds her joy in Christ and in living well. It shows. I find myself both humbled and encouraged by her example. Would we were all so joyful! The more we find our hope, our satisfaction, and our happiness in God, the more we will reflect that same glorious spirit. Perhaps in three more decades, I will have learned to smile that much as well.

Motorcyclists, on the whole, comprise about the same spectrum of intelligence and aptitude for safe driving as other drivers—although perhaps with an emphasis on both extremes. The best motorcyclists are some of the most careful, conscientious drivers on the road. They signal assiduously, move predictably, and give plenty of space. By contrast, the worst motorcyclists are dangerous, unpredictable, and generally a picture of stupidity. And they never wear helmets. In driving 45 miles a day, I have of course seen plenty of motorcyclists.

Today, however, the stupidity topped the charts. A man rode his cruiser down the road, wearing nothing but his shorts, a pair of sandals, and his sunglasses. (His overly large gut made the picture even less attractive than you could imagine.) I imagine the feeling is fairly exhilarating. Of course, the feelings caused by an accident would be far more powerful than that brief thrill. Would we were none of us so foolish—but I think, in many ways, we often are, flirting with sin as we do, baring our chest to out of misplaced pride in our own strength.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Traffic Hilarities

On my way to work this morning, I had occasion to laugh out loud.

Traffic slowed in the lane in front of me; traffic was moving at exactly the same speed as me in the lane to my left. There was a nice, several-car-length gap. Excellent! I thought. I can move over, not slow down, and not inconvenience anyone in the process! Or something a bit like that. Probably more like, Check blind spot. Clear. Gap sufficient. Recheck traffic in front of me and in mirror. Good. Move.

Either way, I made my decision, flipped my blinker on for two seconds, and then moved lanes. I then promptly received the horn-and-brights treatment, not to mention a fiery glare from the woman in the minivan behind me. Who was moving the same speed as me, who still had several car-lengths between her and me. Why did she feel such anger? I am not sure, but I can surmise:

She was angry because I stole her space! After all, everyone knows that you own all of the space between you and the car in front of you, and you have the right to be affronted if anyone moves into it.

I shrugged and thought the incident over. How wrong I was. Moments later, the lady moved over to the middle lane, then again to the right lane. I note: she first moved into a gap the same size as the one I moved into in front of her, then another only slightly larger. Then she glared at me. Her eyes shouted hatred, or at least intense annoyance.

Then the killer moment: she moved back into the middle lane, and then (wait for it), moved into the space between me and the SUV in front of me. It was smaller than the space between her and the same vehicle had been when I moved in.

Cue the outburst of laughter. I rather hope the lady risked another angry and self-satisfied glance into her rearview mirror and thus was rewarded with my deep bemusement.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Travesty!—Losing Thoughts Because I Didn't Write Them Down

I need to start writing down ideas that would make for good blog posts—either here or at Pillar on the Rock—when they pop into my head. I remember having at least three good ideas for blog posts today, two of them perfect for Pillar. Alas, I did not write them down, and now I sit here scratching my head, wondering what I should write about.

On that note, to all my readers: how would you go about remembering the blogging ideas that pop into your head when driving on a crowded highway? Writing it down, obviously, is out of the question. Help me out here: this is when I get (and lose) a solid third or more of my blog ideas throughout the day!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Seventeen Magazine Stupidity

I have been busy working on a pair of monster posts going up at Pillar this week, so I haven't been writing as much. A nasty case of writer's block last week didn't help either. Despite my busyness, I felt the need to share one amazing part of my day, though.

I was standing in the line at Walmart, waiting to check out with groceries. The headline of Seventeen magazine (which is pure rot, as a side note) caught my eye: Finally!—the secret to getting ANY guy you want! Now, obviously, they're trying to sell a magazine, and headlines are the place for hyperbole in the art of sale. To some extent, no doubt, they're succeeding: they did, after all, catch my attention despite my best attempts to avoid looking anywhere near the garbage that is the checkout-line magazine-rack.

But really? The final secret, so that a girl can have any guy she wants? Just one short magazine article with some tips, and BAM!—she's a man magnet for whoever she sets her eyes on? Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, and Robert Downey, Jr., look out: a horde of high school girls are headed your way with head-turning, heart-stopping, ardor-inducing secrets. You may be mobbed by dozens at once, finally being so overwhelmed by falling madly in love with all of them at the same time that you soon pass out from the sheer emotional intensity of it all. High school football captains, attractive nerdy guys, and guitar-players should also be warned: any current relationships you are in are almost certainly doomed if another girl has set her eye on you. If your current girlfriend has read the magazine, too, you are certain to face an onslaught of conflicting, confusing, and calamitous thoughts and emotions as you are subjected to the whims of every woman who finds you passingly attractive.

The sheer inanity of it all astounds even me.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Observations about Billboards

Since I went back to work a week and a half ago, I have been seeing the strangest billboards on my commute. Three of them are funny enough, odd enough, or thought-worthy enough that I decided to write them up.
  1. [Picture of a cat, ad for humane society] Too bad there's no soup kitchen for her. There are so many things wrong with this. We have soup kitchens because we believe in the inherent dignity and worth of every human being—regardless of poverty, mental illness, or other reason for being homeless. While I'm all for helping take care of animals, I'm just not convinced that animal homelessness is nearly the problem that human homelessness is—nor that the comparison is warranted. By all means, encourage animal adoption... just please don't be silly while you're at it. Also: last time I checked, very few cats die of malnutrition on the streets, seeing as they're natural predators for other non-domesticated animals. The cats don't need soup kitchens.
  2. "There's no such thing as an unwanted, adopted baby. —God I could not agree more deeply with the message being presented here. Abortion is not the answer to "unwanted" children: adoption is an infinitely better alternative when, for whatever reason, a mother is simply unable to carry a child. That said, I have been bothered by this billboard for months, and the reason struck me forcefully last week. It's the attribution: making it a quote from God. (Incidentally, that's why it took me such a long time to put my finger on the source of my unease: I kept looking for problems in the quote itself, but there aren't any!) The message itself is very good... but God never said anything of the sort, even he undoubtedly agrees. I do not think we ought to attribute to God anything outside of Scripture itself as "speech." The word of God is sufficient, as I have argued before, and we ought not add to what God has said. So it is a good poster that would have been better without the "—God" tagged on at the end. The attempt to add moral authority to what ought to be an obvious and compelling statement, in my case at least, ended up being a source of distraction. I may, however, be a unique case...
  3. Let's go out for ice cream after you get us all paralyzed! [Picture of a girl holding a sign in a rearview mirror] —Don't let your friends drive recklessly. This one was just plain funny. It was clever, somewhat sarcastic, and incredibly well-done visually. Given the sad state of the drivers around me, not to mention the frequently dangerous antics of many high school and college students, it is a much needed message, too. Normally, I find advertisements of the "Friends don't let friends do drugs" variety to be executed poorly at best and worthy of mockery and derision at worst. This was a pleasant change.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Y'all guys,"—or, thoughts on the English second person plural

The other day at work, I heard someone say "Y'all guys." Further evidence of English's tendency to slide second person plurals into second person singular positions.

Historically, "you" replaced "thou," leaving English with no distinct second person plural. Accordingly, "you all" filled in, quickly contracting into the ubiquitous (southern) "y'all." This in turn has started to bleed over into a singular usage (as in, "How are y'all?" addressed to a single individual, which I've heard with increasing frequency over the past few years). The result, as before, is a gap in the language's ability to convey number when in the second person. As was the case with the transition from "thou" to "you," the result is a set of odd-sounding combinations: "you guys" seems to have lost the competition with "y'all," but is now staging an odd comeback in the form of "y'all guys."

As far as I'm concerned, this is hilarious. The whole trouble might have been avoided by a mild and conscientious prescriptivism, but alas!—such things are far out of favor among our linguists, and grammarians have no place at all in our modern society. In any case, I will maintain my staunch avoidance of the use of "y'all" and continue to pursue a more elegant and refined mode of conversation, insofar as it is possible. The dangerous wiles of Texan or Oklahoman speech shall not claim my soul!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A cubicle poem

Poetry is harder to write
when you're under the influence
of hard, fluorescent lights.
Word choice is harder to summon
when people through cubicle world
are steadily comin'.

I'm left with slant rhymes and failing
mis'rable tries to generate
metrical smooth sailing.
I'm stumbling and grasping at straws
with a mind now doomed to create
grand poetic faux pas.

These sorts of trials no poet should bear
for not even Seattle's gray skies can compare.
Else they will soon be completely consumed
by the madness that dreadfully o'er them looms.

They'll be starting a fresh, new stanza,
a crazy poetic bonanza—
Poof!—their minds, lost!

"Computers," he said," are a delectable delight, best enjoyed with a side of whipped cream."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tree Conspiracies, and the Ironies of Language Randomness

My wife (still fun to write!) and I just put up a Christmas tree together for the first time—our Christmas tree. I don't get overly excited about these sorts of things, and frankly I find myself disgusted by much of what passes for "Christmas" tradition: I'd rather focus on Christ's advent into this world. And, as my family can attest, trees and ornaments really haven't done much for me the past few years. Even so, I deeply enjoyed spending the time with my wife and the tree, covered in ornaments, looks rather lovely.

Circumstances do seem, as they say, to conspire against us sometimes. The very moments when we find ourselves rejoicing in a success, it's wiped away before our eyes. We are tempted to rage at God, and sometimes, like the Psalmist, we do rage at Him. In those moments, I return to an unshakeable confidence that the last few years have birthed in me. No matter how little I see God's sovereign goodness in the moment, I know in the depths of my soul that He is in control of every circumstance, and He is good.

Language is a funny thing. As I wrote a few weeks ago, there is both power in simplicity and beauty in sprawling language. As much as some of my friends may protest, Dostoevsky remains one of the greatest authors ever to live—because of, and not in spite of, his wordiness. In layering word upon word, phrase upon phrase, he built up scenes and sometimes entire days of narrative in ways that resonate deeply with me whenever I read his works. More, he does so in a way that fewer words could not accomplish.

I reflected yesterday, in a moment of dreadful irony, that it's a terrible thing to be forced to study interesting topics for work. I find it even more dreadful that my pay is contingent on learning and applying intriguing ideas. I mean, really! It's quite an affront to my general sensibilities: work ought to be dull, boring, and and unexceptional in every way. The notion that it could be interesting has never crossed my mind, and I'm not sure whether to be frightened or infuriated by the concept. Perhaps meditating on the tastiness of chocolate chip cookies will help.

And now, for a bunch of random—wait, make that miscellaneous, as none of this is actually random—things to fill up the end of the post. First, my mom has written more blog posts in the last week than in the preceding 17 months. I find that impressive, most impressive—but I'll end the Darth Vader imitation now. Second, I cannot remember what the second miscellany was to be. Third, I remembered: because it's been so long, she's still pointing to my old blog. Fourth, there's something mildly amusing about critiquing brevity in writing in posts designed to practice just that...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lessons learned... and pudding

If, dear reader, you wonder why I have not posted in so very long - 8 days, in fact! - then I have something of a story for you. If you wonder no such thing, then you're simply going to have to content yourself with reading anyway, in the hope that I'll says something informative, edifying, or at least mildly amusing.

10 days ago, my wife and I were in Colorado on a short trip for a wedding. Midway through that trip, I began feeling somewhat less than optimal - by which I mean, I sat around most of that day feeling barely better than miserable. That, luckily, was not our traveling day. On our traveling day, I only had minor dizzy spells and a medium headache. Come Monday, however, all of those symptoms were worsening. I, being a daring master of the fates, not to mention still unused to have personal allowance time at work, toughed it out and trudged through my day. I was miserable.

Being stubborn, I proceeded to do the same again on Tuesday. I've been accused of possessing above average intelligence, but I can find no trace of anything in my behavior to suggest the accusation to be anything but the basest sort of falsehood.

Wednesday, heeding the wise counsel of my wife, I stayed home and promptly spent the day feeling miserable again, but with a good book and nary a glance at the computer screen. It turns out that staring at a screen - especially one at a bad angle and under bad lighting - tends to significantly worsen headaches. Over the course of the remainder of the week, I read several thousand pages of fiction, which was splendid, however unproductive. By early this week, I was feeling much better, and was able to go work without feeling like a walking corpse. Lesson learned: remember the value of personal leave and heed my wife's wise advice!

In the meantime, I managed to suffer yet another catastrophe. This one, I'm thankful to say, was not of my own making. Thursday night, you see, is date night for Jaimie and me. Every week we make a point to do something special that evening - a pleasant dinner out and a movie, or a candlelit meal and long talks and cuddling, or any number of things, but always a date.

This is harder to pull off when you have the flu.

We decided it was to be pizza and a movie - in. Best not to spread the dreadful contagion. A woeful decision. As we returned from picking up the pizza - no paying delivery fees for us that night! - we were struck from behind. Some basic math will help you get the picture: 1984 Chevrolet pickup truck + 2005 Hyundai Elantra = CRUNCH. And the truck won and my neck lost: cursed transfer of momentum resulted in a little thing they call whiplash. My wife's poor car ("La Bomba," in case you were wondering... she names the cars, not me) is once again in the shop, with the back bumper, . (If you don't know the story, it involves scenes from an action movie and sleepless nights. Seriously.) The final result of the whole thing is yet to be seen, but needless to say it made for a far more exciting date night than we anticipated. Lesson learned: all that physics information about transfer of momentum was quite accurate. (The seatbelts work.)

In the midst of all of it, God reminded me that health is a gift, and to thank Him more regularly for it. (Lesson learned: don't forget to thank Him immediately after you get better... like I did today until I wrote that sentence.)

If, dear reader, you are still with me, you are doubtless wondering why I'm addressing you, and most particularly why I'm using the trite, over-the-top, and absurdly overused "dear reader" appellation. I'm afraid you will find no answers here. You're simply going to have to get used to it. (I'll leave you wondering whether I plan to keep up the absurdity. You'll be waiting with unbridled expectation for the next post just to find out, I'm sure.)

Lesson learned: pudding is good. (That was for free.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Staple in My Head; or, The Manliness of Anthony Plopper

So, yesterday afternoon, my head encountered something much akin to a razor blade and began bleeding profusely, leading to my taking a trip to the emergency room and having it stapled back together.

This is not as random as it may perhaps sound, and one should not actually be alarmed that my head encountered something much akin to a razor blade, for that something was simply the elbow of my friend Anthony Plopper, whose manliness is simply too great to be contained by something as small as skin. No, his elbows are like razor blades, his ankles like great walls of steel (you'll have to ask Cody for some explanation on that one), and his feet like great and terrible monsters ready to come bursting out of any shoes containing them. Broken toes, lacerated heads, bruised femurs: all these are within his great and terrible power.

And that's when he's having fun.

In seriousness, for those looking for a tale of my head injury, it runs quite simply, and thus: yesterday afternoon, after the OU/TX game, a good-sized group of people was playing a pick-up game of Ultimate. It was an excellent game: very competitive, but also very friendly, with both teams playing quite well. In short, loads of fun. After about 45 minutes of play, my team (also Anthony's team) had the disc and we were moving it down the field with considerable aplomb. Our friend Cody Piersall launched the disc in a very lovely throw down the length of the field as I cut across the length of the field. I thought he was throwing it to me. Turns out I was wrong, as I discovered as I glanced back toward the disc, continuing my widthwise cut across the field and discovered Anthony and whoever was covering him (sorry, I didn't really have time to notice your identity, whoever you are) moving toward me - or rather, toward the disc - or rather, it made not a whit of difference for we were all to be in the same place very soon - quite rapidly. This elicited a moment of thinking, Bad! and then a rather longer and more painful moment of tangling bodies, connecting limbs, and general tumbling through the air, at the culmination of which I was aware that my head hurt about as badly as I've ever felt it hurt and that I was suddenly terribly sweaty. I found myself kneeling on the ground, wondering why I was perspirating so much more than I had been, holding my head. Someone commented that I was bleeding, and badly, and I thought, Nonsense! I'm not bleeding. I'd know it if I were bleeding. At which point I saw blood drip off of my nose and realized that all the extra liquid on my face wasn't sweat.

No worries, my friends! Head wounds are like that! You see, blood flow to the brain and thus to the head in generally is exceptionally high as compared to the rest of the body; the high blood flow is necessary to meet the exceptionally high demands of the brain. Thus, any wound of any significance at all on the head is likely to bleed quite profusely. And so it was in my case.

As it turns out, in midair Anthony's elbow connected quite firmly with the upper left part of my head, opening a cut in it approximately 3/4 of an inch long, and perhaps 1/8 of an inch across. This led to my bleeding. Also: a rather remarkable headache that persisted for quite some time. I maintain that no human elbow is capable of delivering such a cut, and therefore propose that Anthony be required to subject himself to regular scans for abnormal body enhancements, including but not limited to x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, mammograms, and fistograms. These should readily ferret out his methods for inflicting injury on people. I'm convinced he's an X-man, with adamantium ankles and retractable elbow-mounted razor blades at the very least.

All of that to say: I'm quite all right, thank all so very much for asking, being concerned, and praying for me. Other than a very slight headache (I've had worse ones after a hard sneeze), I'm doing quite well. I only required one staple in my head, and it should come out in around 10-14 days.

In this, as in all things, I know that God is being glorified and will continue to be. What precisely that looks like, I know not, but I know it to be true nonetheless.

May all of you be blessed!