Understanding

I read an opinion piece not too long ago about how man is on the verge of ultimate knowledge. Personally, I think that’s bunk. Man is not meant to know everything…and every time we do discover something is just opens up more windows to explore. I am confident that we will continue to know, in the grand scheme of the universe and everything, very little.

As someone who will never be confused with humanity’s great thinkers, I know I know very little. There are some things I just don’t understand.

Take poop for example. Why does poop sometimes sink and other times float?

I’ve asked this question before in life. The most common answer is that it depends on what you eat. This affects the composition of the poop. (I believe the old adage is oats float.) At first glance this appears to be a perfectly logical explanation. Butt, (pun intended) I must offer a real-world example.

The other day I had not eaten much, and the following morning had skipped breakfast. Then, when number two called, I was presented with a real-life challenge to the aforementioned explanation. You see, the poop came in three pieces – one floater and two sinkers (but all three were stinkers). Now, their chemical composition were the same based on my diet over the prior 24-hour period. Therefore they should’ve all floated or all sunk. Yet, there was a difference that shouldn’t have been there. You see, I just do not understand and no one has given me a satisfactory explanation.

Hmmm, I guess my college professors were right. I don’t know s–t!

The Social Butterfly Effect

Don’t strike up a conversation with my six-year-old unless you have a lot of time on your hands. There is no off-switch on our little social butterfly. In fact, striking up a conversation with her isn’t even necessary. All it requires to get her talking is proximity.

Take, for example, our various waiters/waitresses on vacation last weekend. By the end of the meal they all knew her name, her little sister’s name, her big sisters’ names and the fact that mommy is pregnant! That, and so much more. The amount of words spoken by my little family spokesperson exceeded all of our food ordering conversation about thirty-fold.

It got to the point that we had to launch a preemptive strike against her talking so they could work their other tables and paying patrons. We’d see the smile form and the mouth start to open when the said server was about eight feet away and take quick action. She nod, still smiling, as we told her they had other people to serve. Then, if they came within eight feet we’d do it all over again.

Luckily, all of our servers were very pleasant and abundantly friendly to our little ray of sunshine. She even gave one a hug and said, “Bye, Mo!”

And, when you have a server who treats your talkative children well, you may be prompted to give a little extra on the tip. And that, my friends, is the social butterfly effect.

Seeking Direction

I never really lived my life with much direction. I never sought the input of others to help guide me along the path of life; and when anyone ever did attempt to give such direction I likely just ignored them. Perhaps I should’ve sought direction from others; maybe I would’ve avoided some of the unintelligent decisions I’ve made. All-in-all, however, I really wouldn’t change anything as I have a beautiful wife and four beautiful daughters. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

But, I must admit, I find it ironic that I am now in the position of providing direction for others when I was so inept at seeking it for myself. As a manager I have to give direction to my staff. Ask any of them how well THAT’S working out; like a weather vane in an Oklahoma twister! Let’s just skip that part of my direction-giving life.

As a family man I am constantly giving direction to my wife. Seriously…geographical direction! Today I had her drive from my store to the doctor’s office where our eldest is having a follow-up appointment in a few days time. Every twenty feet she’d ask, “What do I do now?”

“Um, just keep going straight until I tell you otherwise, honey.”

That’s how a fair amount of our conversations go; I give her precise directions so she won’t get lost. And I write them down. You see, regardless of her many talents and gifts, a sense of direction is not one of them. This is the woman, who along with two others, went from Reading, PA to Allentown, PA and almost ended up in Harrisburg, PA. If you don’t have a map, just google it! I will credit my wife this – she was the one of the three who noticed they were driving in the wrong direction, even if it took two counties to do so.

So, in that respect, I am more than happy to provide my wife with direction(s). Otherwise she’d be calling me from Michigan – and that’s three states away.

My daughters have better direction sense than their mother. However, as their dad I’ll have to provide direction in the life-decision sense. This can be a daunting task. Fortunately, my two little ones are of an age where I only need provide love, affection, food, clothes and shelter. The eleven-year-old just needs to have her interests fostered to see if she follows her own path; kind of the pre-direction phase.

But the fifteen-year-old is of that age where I really need to help provide direction as she journeys through her high school years and must consider her life after school. However, the only direction she’s interested in is One Direction. And the only direction I can provide her is teaching her theoretical physics; perhaps she can then find a parallel universe in which Zayn is still in the band.

The Art of the Comeback

I have an expression for a bad comeback. I call it the Milhouse Comeback. If you’re a fan of The Simpsons, then you are familiar with Milhouse Van Houten – Bart’s closest friend. Once, the class hamster, Superdude, died over break. The classroom wreaked, and bully Nelson Muntz said, “It smells like one of Van Houten’s.” The best comeback Milhouse could muster was, “It does not!”

Yeah, not exactly a comeback to inspire awe in your peers.

I’m not necessarily a master of the comeback, but I’m pretty quick. However, I can think of two former co-workers who could use a lesson in the art of the comeback.

I can’t even remember the name of the guy I worked with at a large department store – I only worked there four months part-time before no longer needing the extra income. He was a likable fellow and had a decent sense of humor. But he never saw my comeback coming. Actually, I’m not sure he really understood it, as he kept walking into it. My conversations with, let’s call him Dude, would often start with this…

Dude: “Slack job! Always slacking off.”

The Jason: “Whack job.” (Then I’d just raise my eyebrow at him.)

He’d smile and walk away without another word. I guess he realized he didn’t have a comeback for that. Then again, like I said, maybe he didn’t get it as we had that same exchange over a dozen times in my short tenure at that employer. Who knows, maybe he did understand it…eeew, I don’t want to think about that!

Then there was Luke. I worked with Luke at the bookstore. I often gave Luke a hard time because I liked the guy so much. He was fun to work with and even more fun to pick on. When pressed for time I’d simply walk past Luke and say, “Luke.”

“What?” Luke would ask.

“You suck.”

That was it, short and sweet. Until Luke delivered the greatest Milhouse Comeback of all time.

“Suck better than you.”

Then his eyes got wide and his own jaw started to drop.

“Uh, wait. That’s not what I meant.”

Poor, poor Luke. Not only was his comeback severely lacking in bite, but it was overheard by three of our co-workers; one of which was the type to never, ever, ever let Luke live that one down.

Don’t Poop In Your Hand

If you wish in one hand and poop in the other, which one fills up faster?

I know for a fact I’m not the only parent to use that one on my kids. Heck, I’ve used that – or the more vulgar version when a blunt delivery is required – one employees over the years. But there comes a point when you have to stop wishing and do something about it. Poop or get off the pot is another way to put it. At the least, come to grips with the fact that your wish isn’t meant to come true.

Of course, I’m human and have made this same mistake many times in my own, younger life…

I wish I were taller; but my brothers ate all the food.

I wish I were smarter; but they got all the brains.

I wish I were better-looking; okay, I have them slaughtered on that one.

I wish I were bolder; but I’ll always be shy.

I wish I were stronger, faster, a better athlete; but I don’t work out.

I wish I kept drawing; but I never believed I had any talent.

I wish I were better-read; but it was easier to watch movies.

I wish I studied harder; but I was lazy.

I wish I had a passion to follow; but I’ve been uninterested.

I wish I had more time to write my book…

That’s what this blog is a part of. No, I’m not writing a book similar to this blog. This blog is just an exercise for me to flex my typing fingers and get into a writing fashion. I was planning on publishing 250 posts in one year; forcing myself to keep to a schedule and deadlines before jumping full-force into writing out my book. But it worked a little better than planned.

On my last vacation I started getting down a much firmer outline of what I’m working on than ever before. I told my sister-in-law that I’ve been bandying this book about in my head for fifteen years. Actually, this book is really only nine years in the making (thus far). It sprang from back story from the original idea I had. I was looking over what I had already written in 2006 and asked a few questions about one character – not even a secondary character at the time. Then, an explosion of ideas hit for his back story and a completely new tale erupted from my pen. I’ve been sprinkling ideas and passages in notebooks ever since.

Then, while getting my ignition coil fixed at Pep Boys, I outlined in earnest all I had to this point. And I added more and more depth to the outline – we’re talking a large book, or two or three before the tale is all told. And ideas keep coming; either new plot twists, greater character development or new and better ways to write what I’ve thus far written. The pebbles are tumbling down the mountain side, now. It’s time to charge forward.

As such, I’ve not posted as frequently as had been my norm. There may be days, maybe even weeks, which will go by before sitting down to write this blog. The urge to keep writing on anything and everything is as strong as ever, but I’m more focused now on an end goal on my book(s). I’ll still touch base here, and definitely help my wife with her blog and read some of my favorites, but I’m not pooping in my hand any more.

This time next year I’ll have the rough draft done and likely a second or third revision as well, considering the pace I’ve achieved recently. Of this, we can shake on it…just let me wash my hand first.

Epitome of Random – Vol 15

– The Jason: Our kids need to learn manners. The Wife: Says the man who just farted at the dinner table.

– Our two youngest received similar gifts from their grandparents on our recent visit. They are a penguin and puppy which have a flashlight sewn in so the little tykes can see in the dark. The lights are located on the chest of the toy. My first thought was, “Oooh! Iron Man penguin!”

– Crocodiles DO eat turtles!

– Why I won’t be winning Father of the Year: My toddler took her sleeper off and paraded around in her onsie and diaper the other night. Instead of getting her dressed again, I whipped out a five dollar bill.

– My wife and a neighbor were having a religious debate outside. I couldn’t decipher the words, but I heard the wife’s voice from twenty feet away and through the front door. Later she gave her usual reply: “I get loud when I get passionate.” Hmmm, then how come you haven’t woken up the kids once in fifteen years?

– Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off would have totally different meaning if she were a guy.

– If you are standing at the Four Corners and smoke a joint, but the hand your holding it in never leaves Colorado, can Arizona, New Mexico or Utah do anything about it?

– So, Hermione took polyjuice potion and changed into Harry Potter. Yet, in the end, she still chose Ron. Doesn’t bolster Harry’s case for masculinity.

– I entered a No-Talent Contest and won!

There Can Be Only One

I very rarely get to watch movies, and almost never on the big screen. Heck, the last time I went to a movie theatre, not counting sitting in the lobby waiting to pick up my 15-year-old, was over 6 years ago. And that was for High School Musical 3. (What can I say, I have only daughters.) So I live through the trailers I find on YouTube and hope to one day watch some of these, if the time permits. If not, no biggie.

But, if I had to choose just one of the 2015 blockbusters coming out, which would I pick?

First, let’s look at the candidates. I have narrowed it down to four blockbusters based on film franchises which have been successful either immediately or built a large fan base. Let’s take them in order of release…

Avengers: Age of Ultron – I am totally jazzed about the success Marvel has had with their movies to date. It was the original X-Men trilogy that gave it strength but it has been the later installments which really created better movies. I think X-Men: First Class is one of my favorite comic book based movies ever. I really enjoyed Iron Man and Captain America. But in the Avengers universe, those (and the second Iron Man) are the only ones I’ve seen to date. No Avengers, no Iron Man 3, no Thor, no Captain America: Winter Soldier. So, this one is not my choice – too much background I’m not familiar with.

Mad Max: Fury Road – I believe May 15th will be, as Nicholas Hoult would say, a lovely day! What I’ve read and seen in the trailers make me REALLY want to see this one in all its big-screen epicness! WOW! I mean, WOW! Hardy looks to be a fantastic choice to replace Gibson’s Max, and Charlize Theron looks totally BA! This promises to be a game-changer in action movies. And, as I’ve never seen a Mad Max movie on the big screen, I’d love to see this one in said format. But, this’ll have to be choice number two.

Jurassic World – They’re dinosaurs, enough wow! (I think that’s how Chris Pratt says it in the trailer.) Yup, the original was completely ground-breaking. I recently watched a brief documentary on the programmers who came up with the CGI methods used to bring the dinosaurs to life. I’m jazzed to see more of the same. However, I read Jurassic Park before watching the first movie and felt the velociraptors in the films were just not nearly smart and scary enough comparatively. JP2 and 3 were let downs as well. I think the concept of man’s hubris in thinking he can not only control dinosaurs but build a super-alpha predatory dinosaur and control it is a great way to up the disaster ante, but it’s really nothing new to the series. So, no big-screen dinos for me.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – What other franchise says blockbuster more so than Star Wars? NONE! ZERO! Count ’em – ZIP! Sure, the prequel trilogy pretty much sucked, but George Lucas isn’t writing or directing this one. This is J.J. Abrams – the mastermind behind the Star Trek reboot. And – IT’S FREAKIN’ STAR WARS! Lightsabers, tie fighters, storm troopers, droids, wookies, and the millennium falcon; in a word – HECK YEAH! Oh, wait; that’s two words. See how stoked I am, I can’t even count right! Needless to say, this is my choice.

Sadly, I work retail and December is my busy time of year. That, and I’m a notoriously cheap dude! But, who knows, maybe I’ll treat myself to a little Christmas present this year – or a belated one in January.

So, which of those four would you like to see? If you could only pick one.