Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Breast Cancer Walk: Win, Win, Win,



So I have a problem. I am very competitive. But not like competitive in normal things, like football or basketball, but in things that I probably shouldn't be competitive about, like chess and charades. For example I get so competitive at board games. I can't tell you how many fights broke out in our home because of the game "SORRY". You know that game where you would almost win and then your opponent could send you all the way back to the beginning. Oh the frustration this would cause. I would try to be diplomatic but in the end I usually would end up kicking the game into the wall.

Well today was one of those days when that random competitive gene came bustin' out all over. This afternoon the county sponsored a Breast Cancer Awareness walk. I always like to support the county events because I serve on a healthy lifestyles committee, so I felt like I needed to go.

As I arrived I realized I felt unusually out of place. First, everyone was wearing pink and I was wearing... well, it wasn't pink. Secondly, I was one of maybe five males in a sea of pink laden females. When you are a non-pink, six, five male all attention immediately falls on you. I felt very aware of my non-pink status. I also felt the females questioning eyes wondering, "Why is this tall man walking for breast cancer awareness. Is he some kind of pervert or something."

After we all got registered and gathered at the start line they said "go". Now keep in mind we were just doing laps inside the county building at an easy trot. I don't know what happened. Once I heard the word "go" my brain went into animal survival mode. I was pushing past people, edging people out around corners, throwing elbows. I was a force out there as I was speed walking.

Sometimes I would get stuck behind a group of sisters just chit chattin' away, talking about how cute their pink hats and shirts were, and I would blow right past them. In my mind I would scream, "This is for Breast Cancer Awareness ladies. Let's move ladies, move, move."

I would tailgate the casual slow walkers until I rounded a corner and then I would cut them off and leave them in the dust. So long suckas! I was amazing, weaving in and out of people, and dodging the self-examination pamphlets. I was in rare form indeed.

In the last stretch of the walk I was on fire, but there was another guy with a pink tiara close behind. He was pushing to pass and beat me, but I held strong. As I rounded the last corner I nudged him into a drinking fountain. Victory! The prize was mine.

You ask the question,what prize Rob? I will tell you...a pink ribbon and a breast cancer self-examination pamphlet. Was it all worth it you ask? Definitely yes will be my inevitable answer. I have never felt so fast and powerful in all my life. There is something about an average man competing against non competitive slow people that makes you feel like you are an amazing athlete.

So thank you pink ladies. Thank you for making me feel like a man today in a very non-man like setting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cruel and Unusual



So on my way home each night I drive by a vitamin store where there is an interesting person dressed as some sort of bug. I want to say that it is a giant tick, with giant teeth and angry, angry eyes, but I cannot confirm or deny what kind of insect he is. "What does this "thing" have to do with vitamins?", I ask myself every night as I drive by.

Usually the tick, as I have named him, is very energetically waving and jumping up and down trying to get people to pull in and buy some vitamins. But yesterday as I drove by he was just standing there. No waving, no jumping just sort of limp. All of a sudden my heart broke for my little tick friend. I want to believe that he was crying in his costume because after cleaning up the stock room, his boss said that it was time for him to strap on the tick costume and drum up some business. My little friend, after giving the tick marketing strategy all that he had these last few weeks realized he was not in the mood to strap on the 50 lbs costume in the 80 degree weather and dance around in rush hour traffic. Or he could of had diarrhea it's hard to say.

What kind of a person or business makes their employees dress in unusual costumes, stand outside in the blistering cold or hot of Utah to drum up some business? This seems to be a troubling trend that I am seeing more and more on the street of Utah.

There is a particular company in Utah called Liberty Tax Services who I take particular issue with. During the tax season they hire people, men and women mind you, to dress as the Statue of Liberty with the torch, crown, and toga to stand on the side of the road and wave in business. Keep in mind that January and February are the coldest months of the year in Utah and so most of the "Lady Liberties" are very wide looking due to some down coats layered underneath their togas. Frankly they can barely raise their torch to wave at all with all those layers.

Everyone has their own style of waving people in. Some put on their IPOD and "booty pop" with their torch, while others like to do the ever so popular "point at the driver and wave" technique. No matter how they spin it I feel embarrassed for them. Much like I feel embarrassed for waiters at restaurants that have to dance to "Greased Lighting" while you are trying to eat your appetizers.(See Blog post "I wept for them" for my feelings on that topic)

I thought about why this exploitation of employees bothers me so much and I think it goes back to an experience I had a couple of years ago. One of my co-workers was let go from our company and I knew that she was looking for other work. Well one day as I was driving down State Street, I saw her, yes, dressed as Lady Liberty, except she was not dancing around, rather, her head was down in shame,obviously embarrassed about having to stoop this low for a paycheck. Even now, all these years later I get upset thinking about my friend at what I am sure is one of the lowest moments of her life.

Friends let's stop supporting organizations that make their employees dress up to drum up business. I feel like it so exploitative and unethical. I mean these are people we are talking about here. We have People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) but what about our own kind. People for the Ethical Treatment of People (PETP). Together we can help our friends dressed as bugs and national monuments. Let it begin,and let it begin with me.

10/29/08 Update- I drove by the tick man on my way home yesterday and to my relief he was back waving and bouncing around. He must have just had diarrhea the other day. Thank goodness.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Smokers


Is it alarming to anyone else how many people are still smoking? I mean with all that we know about the dangers of tobacco and how it is the most preventable cause of death, you would think people would not want to light up ever. I exclude those people who are of an older generation who thought smoking was glamorous and gave you fantastic skin and hair. But the people of my generation should know better.

Today two things happened while I was walking in the inner city on my lunch break that got me thinking about this.

Incident #1- As I was walking someone drove by and flicked their cigarette butt out of their window. Seriously? Why is that OK? I know these are normally reasonable people who wouldn't dare to litter otherwise but what is it about a cigarette butt that changes these reasonable people into litter bugs? It makes me so mad! Buy an ash tray buddy!

Incident 2- So next to my building their is a senior housing project. They have a little section outside with two lovely tole painted ash trays(everything looks better when it is tole painted you'll find). They all gather out there and talk and smoke, and smoke and talk. I am happy that they have each other at this point in there lives. Again, I don't fault the seniors for smoking because they unfortunately got caught in the lies of the tobacco company all those years ago about how glamorous smoking was, and that tobacco contained essential vitamins for a fit body and a great smile.

Across the street from the sweet seniors is an apartment building that probably needs to be torn down. It look like an old mental hospital with huge window that are covered up by the likes of "My Little Pony" and "Hannah Montana" bed sheets. And no lie they still have smoke stacks, yes, smoke stacks. What? Are we living in a Charles Dickens novel? Who has smoke stacks any more? That was so 100 years ago, get with the times people. I always see shady people going in and out of there. One time I was running on my lunch break and someone pulled out of there in a beat up truck. He offered me his 64 oz Super Big Gulp. When I declined, because you know it is hard to run with a 64 oz Super Big Gulp in you hand, he threw it at me and drove away. True story.

So as I am walking toward the sweet seniors smoking area I see a man leaving the shady apartments heading for the tole painted ash trays. I thought this was going to be trouble so I slowed my pace so I could see what he was doing. Then I saw him rummaging through the ash tray looking for a cigarette that had just enough tobacco left that he could smoke. He found one and lit it up and started smoking and then walked back to his apartment.

You know I would rather walk on my tongue than to criticize others but that cigarette has been in a seniors mouth. And that senior could possibly be caring some serious illness. And now that serious illness could possibly be inside of this stupid man. And now he is going to have to spend his money on doctor bills instead of buying new curtains for his dilapidated apartment.

I know that it is an addiction but there is a line you cross when you have to dig through a senior citizen's tole painted ash tray so you can get your fix for the day. Come on bro' get it together.

Katie Holmes

Perhaps you caught Kaite Holmes-Cruise as I did on "Eli Stone" on Tuesday night. In case you missed it, check it out.


Is it possible that we have underestimated Katie Holmes? Who knew she could sing like that?

Now I will be the first to admit that I have never seen any thing that she has been in that has made me think she was anything spectacular. Truth be told I have only seen her in "Batman Begins" and snippets of "Dawson Creek" when my parents weren't home, so I am not an expert on her career by any stretch of the word. But with that said, man, I got to admire any one who can dance and sing like that.

So, thanks Katie for giving me a little bit of a surprise on Tuesday night.

And mostly thank you also for giving me a great idea for our Daybreak 13th Ward Talent Show this year.

Does any one know where I can get a black leotard and a fog machine?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Twilight



So friends I have to confess that I have read all four books in the Twilight series. I have retained my "man" status inspite of all the estrogen that these books seemed to ooze.

I thought I would share with you my thoughts about these books because I think as a man I have some unique insights that maybe a female may not see because she is so blinded by that Edward guy.

I will admit to you that I loved books 1 and 2. As a man I liked the intensity and also the dynmics of vampires and werewolves living miles from each other. I thought to myself, "Hey, This Stephanie Myers, she's alright."

Then book three surfaced and I can't tell you how many times I was so angered that the whole book revolved around Bell and her inability to make a decision as to who she was going to have a committed relationship with. Seriously, Bella? Is it that hard? And must we spend 500 pages of a book going back and forth about who she likes when those 500 pages could have been used to have a battle sequence of some kind? I know Bella is a fictional character but there were times when I wanted to reach through the pages of the book and slap this girl around and tell her to stop messing with Edward and Jacob's heart. And while I am on the subject what in the world do these two guys see in Bella? She is uncoordinated, by her own admitance she is not that great looking, and has the personality of a rock. So what is compelling these to guys to drive so hard to the hoop to vie for her attention when really they could have any other girl in the free world? Would love to know.

As a man I can tell you Edward was not the right guy for Bella. I know he won her over in the end but Jacob clearly was the better choice. Maybe my hatred was kindled because Stepanie Myers would always go into overkill discribing what Edward looked like. Using words like, "chisled", "granite", "cold" "sweet smelling"and "coco colored eyes". Ya, Steph I get the idea babe. You don't have to describe how good looking he is every over page. Edward is good looking, yeah, I get it! And need I remind all of you he is a VAMPIRE? How in the world do we all of a sudden feel comfortable around someone who at any moment can kill you? Seriously.

Back to Jacob. He is a mans man. Just chill. Not high maintenance like Edward. Just has to roll out of bed strap some pants around his leg and just go commando. Another thing, why does Bella want to cuddle up to something that is cold and granite-like. I have lived in the northwest and it does get chilly up there and you do not want to spoon with a ice block when it starts raining up there, trust me. You want something warm up against your backside on a cold rainy night and that person is clearly JACOB.

Book four was a little better for me but still lacked the intensity of the first two. My same frustration from book three was realized when she wanted to have feelings for both Jacob and Edward even when she was MARRIED. And again I wanted to reach through the pages and shake Bella and say hello you can't have it both ways. Sacrifices need to be made in relationships. Make the decision Bella, stop being such playa'. And lets be honest as much as I liked Jacob in the first books, in book four he was an idiot with Bella. And yet for some stupid reason, which I can never figure out, Bella just laughed it off and they were friends again. What? Wouldn't that have been a good time to end it with him or have him killed or something?

In books 3 & 4 she teased us all thinking there was going to be a huge battle and lives would be lost but when we finally got to the battle there was no one who died. Everyone just walked away unscathed. It was so anticlimatic. In all great novels and movies someone of worth must die. Look at StarWars, Harry Potter, and the NeverEnding Story (remember when Atreu's horse dies in the swamps of sadness? That was heavy stuff.) Steph don't tease me with a battle and then drop the ball, that's all I'm saying.

I know I will get some angry comments about this blog but it just goes to show you that men and women can read the same story and get completely diffent feelings about it. I had to get these feelings vented because I have carried this anger with me for a long time and it needed to get out. Men want the action, women want the romance and that is why will will never have world peace. Something to think about.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Heart the Jazz


So my co-worker is obsessed with the Jazz insomuch that she has a life size cut out of Karl Malone that stands next to her by her desk. It is so realistic that sometimes when I get here in the early hours of the morning I forget that Karl is just a cardboard cut out and think he is some sort of cat burglar. I get so startled sometimes I dive behind the desk and then foolishly realized that he isn't attacking but just standing there motionless. Oh, Karl, why must you scare me so?
So on Friday my co-worker brought in some Jazz jerseys that she had collected over the years. We needed the Jazz paraphernalia because part of the before mentioned recruitment commercial for our office took place at a Jazz game. She handed me a jersey to try on and well ...the picture speaks for itself. I think it was a child's large. We all laughed. It was so funny. Sure I couldn't breathe but come on, what is some blacking out among friends.
I strutted around the office for about 15 minutes and then I couldn't get it off. I seriously had to go into the superman stance with arms out to have my co-workers peal that bad boy off. Ah good times.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Jail Commercial


Friends, today at the Jail we were filming a recruitment commercial for our office and they needed someone to fill in for a prisoner. So I immediately jumped at the chance to stretch my acting prowess. They were anxious to get filming so I only took two hours to get into character. Usually, I demand at least five hours but it was per diem so I let it slide.

I was then whisked away to wardrobe and, wow, I don't know what prisoners are complaining about. They get to wear one of the most comfortable outfits I have ever had the pleasure of wearing. It is all loose and flowy, no sharp zippers, or unruly buttons, you just slide it over, pull it up and your done. No hassle, No fuss. I would love to work in a uniform like that.

And the foot wear, oooh, talk about comfort. It felt like I was back in the 80's when I would break dance in my back yard on my sheet of cardboard. And that color, friends, you are never going to lose those shoes any where, am I right? And they are so easy to work with, all you have to do is slide those bad boys on and you are set for a day in solitary or a brisk walk around the yard. The only thing that I would have preferred is some Velcro. That way if you kick some one your shoe won't go flying off, am I right? Man, if I had a dollar. . .

By the way, the tan knee high dress socks are all me baby. I just wanted to class it up a bit. I call the look "Jail Business Casual".

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bathroom Horrors


So the other day I went to the local library to pick up a book. It had been a long day at work so I just wanted to come to this sanctuary of quiet and relaxation to unwind. As I was there I needed to use the facilities, so I walked into the stall to do the "hula-who" .

I flushed the toilet and to my horror I realized that the water wasn't swirling down the drain, as I was accustomed to it doing before. That's right, it was coming up. Friends, there is no greater fear in life then knowing that in a matter of seconds everything you just deposited in the sewer bank will quickly be refunded all over you patent leather shoes.

All of a sudden I went into panic mode, reaching for the plunger. . .but nothing was there. Running to turn off the water. . . not visible. Not knowing what else to do I started reasoning with the toilet.

"Please don't do this to me. I had a hard day. Not know. . .not today."

That didn't seem to work and the water began to swell like a bubble on the verge of popping so I instantly went to prayer mode.

"Lord, please don't punish me in this way. I have tried to be good today. OK, I did gossip a little about my co-worker, but seriously this seems a bit extreme on the punishment side of things! Really!"

The tidal wave did not ebb. So I began to blow furiously on the water. Hoping that just a little bit more pressure on the surface might be enough to dislodge whatever was clogging this ceramic beast. These efforts also proved futile.

Not knowing what else to do and feeling so anxious I began to run around the stall like a caged animal. Clawing at the sides of the stall hoping that someone could rescue me from my own watery grave.

Finally, I admitted defeat and slide down the side of the bathroom wall rocking and crying and waited for my own personal "Poseidon Adventure" to begin. I plugged my ears and closed my eyes as I watched the water get closer and closer to the rim, nearing the brink of over flowing. And as the water was reaching the rim. . .it stopped. The slightest breeze would have sent it over the edge. So I breathed a sigh of relief and slowly gathered my self and as carefully as possible exited the stall.
Friends, prayers are answered. Just as Michael McLean says, "Even thought it's hard to find the words, (especially when you are panicking in a bathroom stall) You're always heard, your not alone." Oh, it is so true. Thanks Mike.
I thought about telling someone about the problem in the bathroom but why? How could I be so selfish as to deny some special soul the opportunity to increase their faith in the power of prayer as I had just done. What kid of person would I be if I denied a good brother this lesson in humility. A man is never as humble as when he has to tell the head librarian that the toilet has just exploded all over him. That is strength I tell you, pure courage. Ah, bless his heart. God speed brother!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Crazy People Around My Office

I work in a seedy part of town but sometimes as a government worker I like to get out among the people I serve. So every afternoon I go for a walk in the neighborhoods around my building. There are moments when I walk down a street and either fear for my life or just have a good laugh at what goes on around me. I also get my nose full of some very strong odors. Such exotic smells like urine, dog poop, and ahh my favorite, rotten plums that not only smell but also stain as well. That is a killer combo.
Today as I was walking I noticed a girl behind me who was dressed just like Madonna from the eighties. You know? Ratty hair, puffy skirt, and yes the black lace gloves. She even was sporting a side pony tail with a bow. That's right friends it was a spectacular piece of work. Now, I am always supportive of those who want to dress wildly. Shine on you crazy diamond, I always say. And then the swearing started.
From behind me I hear son of a "boom", son of "bang", Mother "chucker"etc. She wasn't using her inside voice either, friends, she was shouting it to the rafters. I was curious who she was addressing with such strong obscenities but as I looked around I saw no one. Could she be shouting at me? I was just minding my own business. Couldn't she see I was just trying to reach out to her and all the other Madonna look a likes roaming the streets of South Salt Lake? Must she bite the hand of one who is trying love her crazy self. Seriously, WWMD (What would Madonna Do?)
I started to feel bad but as I turned to head into the government center she turned the opposite way. I realized that she wasn't talking to me after all, she was talking to some invisible person who was obviously giving her a bad time. Whew, thank goodness! She wasn't yelling at me, she was just crazy.
What a relief. My charitable walking can still continue.

Monday, October 6, 2008

It's alway fun to shoot a gun, to shoot a gun, hooray! It's always fun for everyone to shoot a gun.







Friends-

I don't know if you have had the thrill of shooting a gun. I highly recommend it. I have never been a gun person. Growing up my dad always had guns and we would go up in the mountains and line up cans and shoot them down. I remember that I always had a healthy fear and respect for guns because my dad owned a gun that would bruise your shoulder or knock you on your can. And after all that I could never hit a target. I would try and try but I couldn't come close to hitting can or a bulls eye let alone the paper it was printed on. Guns always seemed so big and powerful and I was so small and seemed to tip over easily. I must of had a lot of fluid in my brain, I did have a large head as a child.

When I graduated last year with my MPA, as a gift my father gave a 9mm hand gun. It was one of those gifts that your receive and politely say "thank you", but in the back of your mind you are thinking, "What in the sam am I going to do with a hand gun? I can barely manage to drive safely to work. Can I be trusted with all this lead and steel?"

After, I went shooting the first time all the fears that I had as a child left. I don't know if the fluid had drained out of my head or I just got stronger but I was a pretty good shot. Don't misunderstand I still have a healthy respect for a guns and still feel the weight of having a weapon in my home, but there is also an empowering feeling of knowing how to use a gun.

So last Friday my co-workers and I went up to the range and did some shooting. It was really empowering to shoot with real life police officers. I held my own and I want to say they I earned some respect points from them. I don't like to toot my own horn, but . . toot, toot.