Stream of Consciousness

Friday, March 23, 2007

If every day were like this, maybe I wouldn't need earphones.

I have these earphones that I use to listen to music while taking the train to work. I say "have" in a pretty loose word sense because at the moment I still possess them, but they are for the most part unusable now and will soon be discarded. I'm actually not sure why I'm even holding on to them. When they were functional, they actually worked surprisingly well, considering I paid about two dollars for them at a retail store in a mall. They're the in-ear type but not conventionally; the part inserted into the ear is actually a narrow tube with a foam piece wrapped around it to conform to the shape of the orifice, blocking outside noise and providing better sound. The earphones came equipped with spare foam cushions, all of which I've exhausted and now the right earpiece is missing one. I was at one point just using one side, but it wasn't the same. Really, I think I was more about blocking out the bustle than hearing the music.

For the past couple days on the train I've gone without earphones, enduring the clamor and prattle. This morning it's cloudy, barely raining. I take off for the train and board. At the Clayton stop I see a couple get on and sit right across from me. The woman struggles a bit pushing a stroller onto the train. The child in the stroller looks like he could be on the threshold of being too old to be strolled, maybe it's just the glasses.

Glasses? I don't think I've seen a child that small with glasses before. I haven't been to an optometrist in a long time, maybe there's been some major advances in that field to prescribe glasses to an infant. He can barely talk, I doubt he can read yet. Maybe they're purely cosmetic. It is pretty cute. I'm even thinking about remarking about how cute this little child looks with his thin-frame eyewear until I hear "the black man gets a five hundred dollar fine" being announced by who appears to be the child's father.

Before he even said that I saw him and thought he looked a bit Spike Leeish with his light goatee, thick glasses, baseball cap with the bill flipped up and black leather jacket. Even his declaration sounded like it could have been Spike's sound byte. He goes on, discussing with his wife this fine or ticket or whatever. They must have just come from the court building in Clayton.

There's a faint series of light coughs of the weeping variety coming from the back of the car. The doors open and a man gets on with one of those 1700s style three corner hats, like you might see in a Ben Franklin museum or some New England colony reenactment. Where do you even get those? He sort of hunched over and carried an old metal lunchbox. Through the noise I can hear more bits Spike Lee's ranting, something about how you can't trust the communists or commoners or something. "Just like in Scarface." Maybe I should watch that just so I can figure out what he's talking about. They get off at the Central West End stop. The rain's picked up.

I exit the train at Union Station and begin a rainy trek into work. Seems like the beginnings of a crappy day, but I really don't mind it that much, even when I get the full-on soaking from a car driving by. At least it's not cold out.

Monday, January 24, 2005

I was one of the top few, an online merchant famous for selling only one product a day, periodically holds photoshop art contests that involve the several specific products that are featured.

The latest contest was a little different, the object being to write a review using Mad Ape Den, a style of writing using only words of three letters or fewer.

For my entry I decided to write about an mp3 player that had been featured, since it would be an easy way to include MAD-translated song lyrics. Here is my entry, that tied for third place:

on-the-go mp3 box for my ear
I do say the box to use mp3 on the go is not bad. No, it is rad! I use it to put the ode set in my ear. Now my ode set I can not put all in one cd in my car can be on me now and on any day. I can go to the god-hut and sit and in my ear is:

I dig a lot of the big ass and I can not lie,
Any of you who are a man can not say, "Not I."
As I see a gal leg in who is a bit hip shy and has an orb in my eye,
I get a pop, as I saw for her to tog her ass she had to try a lot.
Far low in the leg-set she had on, I was in awe and had to spy on.
Oh gal, I yen to get you, and get a pic of you.
My den-boy-set did try to hex,
But thy ass has me all: "me so yen sex"

...and so on. I get all out of it and I say it for all, but a few get mad and I get hit. Ce est la vie!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Music is not a status symbol

A few days ago I dug up a bunch of old cds that were still at my parents' house, and upon an inventory check I realized that I might be embarrassed that people I know might find out I own many of the titles included in the collection.

Then I wondered why should I care what other people think of the music I like, or more importantly, the music I listened to ten years ago?

Maybe it's because some of my friends can be considered "music snobs." These are the people that tell you your taste in music is bad because you don't listen to the music that they like, implying that they are somehow the appointed authority on what's "good," even though the definition of good can be debated.

Music snobs can be found everywhere, some claiming divine providence to a certain genre, while others simply deride what's popular. A few friends of mine are partial to the 'jam' band category of music. This includes bands such as Grateful Dead, Phish, String Cheese Incident, and Widespread Panic. Although I don't know everything about them or own albums recorded by these bands (the best music available are recorded live shows usually in bootleg form), I like them a lot. In fact, my tastes range greatly across many platforms of music (as anyone's should). But my friends who listen only to this genre believe, since I don't listen to them exclusively my musical tastes are questionable. And I thought the people who subscribed to this lifestyle were supposed to be the most open-minded.

Another kind of music snob is the 'indie' snob, who belittles anyone who likes bands or artists that are the most popular due to overexposure by the media. One of the worst examples of this is Eman Laerton of He makes personal appearances at concerts of bands he doesn't like, steps up onto a pedastal of delusional grandeur, and proceeds to announce to the patrons waiting in line that their musical tastes are questionable while he stands in front of them in a brown judge's cloak and an oversized helmet from World War I. He naturally sparks unrest as a result of insulting the intelligence of the waiting fans by quoting false statistics from an imaginary publication called "Scientific Proof Magazine". Notice on his website he only points out bad music, there is no mention of music that he considers good.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Mr. Pink was wrong

I was chatting yesterday in a thread about delivery drivers and the subject of tipping became the main issue. A few people confessed that they did not believe in tipping, and I responded referring to the first of them as Mr. Pink, the character in Reservoir Dogs who in the first scene revealed a great deal about his character by explaining his debate against the custom of tipping. The poster responds:
Yes I do love Mr. Pink's monologue... I totally agree with him. When/if people do a good job, I tip them well. But I simply don't agree with the idea of needing to automatically tip someone even if he didn't provide good services at all.

During the discussion in the movie the fact that is left out however, is that the people rendering these services are paid less than minimum wage. Some occupations (including one I had for several years) are even based on a type of commission, so if there are no sales, you don't get paid (even though you may not have any control over if sales are made or not). I think anyone who agreed with and applauded his rant is either ignorant of this or a selfish weasel like Mr. Pink's character. Another poster says:
I say f'k the tipping tradition. Rather, just add a little more to the price of the item. Saves me the trouble of deciding how much to tip. This way, waiters and deliverers get the same as what they're getting now -- plus, when the tips come along, they now resume their original meaning as reward for a job well done, instead of extortion money so they don't piss in my food.

Tipping is hardly extortion, the ones who consider it this are the ones that mistreat the server, and are later given bad service because the servers remember the abuse and/or lack of tip. On the contrary, tips should be considered bidding for better service for those who genuinely appreciate it. The highest bidder receives the best service. For example, in my ex-profession (delivery driver), those who tipped the best got their order first, regardless of who called first. This is a capitalist society, after all. This was my response to the people who scoffed at tipping:
Tipping is for personal services rendered. No, it is not required, but it's consideration and appreciation for someone giving personal attention beyond simply trading something for your money.

Employers are not assholes for how they pay waiters. Some establishments are 'non-tipping' but the customer pays for it, anyway. This way the prices can stay low and the amount of tip can depend on and ensure good service. Otherwise, the waiters can slack off and not care about your service since they know they're getting paid anyway (The American Way, sadly).

To flat out not tip out of personal beliefs is ignorant, don't have anyone do anything for you if this is the case. Don't ride in a taxi, get a haircut, valet your car, have your bags checked at the airport curb, ask for anything to be delivered to your door or have someone wait on your table if you and your party aren't willing to drop a couple extra dollars. Otherwise, take the bus, buy a flobee, park your own car, wait in line and check your own bags, drive out and pick your order up yourself or go to McDonald's.

I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was to realize there are still people around ignorant enough to "not believe in tipping." Some people even think that we should do away with tipping altogether and just pay a little more in the price of the food. Is this really logical? What's to ensure good service? How would such a change be organized? It would be as effective as the US adopting the metric system, and even after the national switch is made, who's to know for sure what employers actually agreed to change? Some people just have reservations about tipping. What's the big deal? Nobody is forcing them to take advantage of these services.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Side effects may include headache, abdominal cramping, death

There have been a lot of Pharmaceutical companies running ad campaigns for a variety of medications. In these ads they have to list all the common side effects, which in many cases after hearing them makes one wonder why anyone would take these medications. I've seen insomnia medications that can cause insomnia, and Zoloft, a medication for depression, social anxiety and panic disorders, can cause tremors and agitation. The latest and worst yet is a psoriasis treatment called Enbrel, whose first mentioned side effect is infections that are sometimes fatal. It also warns to tell your doctor if you develop "multiple sclerosis, seizures, or inflammation of the nerves of the eyes" after you begin taking it. The cure sounds worse than the disease! Is clear skin worth dying over? I know it's probably very rare that these instances occur, but hearing a sales pitch for a new drug that includes "and oh yeah, you might die" wouldn't have me running to the doctor begging for a prescription.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Shirt or skirt?

I've noticed a new fashion trend over the last few months, shirts that look like they were made for someone born with two torsos. Don't get me wrong, I hate shirts that are too short, but what I've seen is complete overkill. I've seen some that actually hang below the knees. How can anyone wear this and be convinced that they don't look like a complete moron? I only wish I had an actual picture to illustrate how ridiculous they look. Sure, I took part in the big pants trend in the 90s, which also got so big that they could fit a large child in each leg while wearing them, but if these shirts get any longer, the wearer won't even need pants, they'll just have a full-body gown.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

The curse of the telephone

Yesterday I saw a commercial for a cell phone that included unlimited instant messaging via all the IM big boys, Yahoo, MSN, etc. It seemed to me like a good idea, because I've always had issues with talking on the phone. I've never exactly been a chat artist, and calling someone without a purpose never resulted the way I intended. That point in the conversation arrives, that silence burning in your ear when you're lost as to what the next subject should be. What is it about the phone that destroys my concentration?

So I avoid recreational use of the telephone, but it cannot be totally avoided. Whenever I talk to anyone on the phone (other than a select few people with which exists a "phone relationship" with established guidelines that eliminates uncomfortable situations), I can sense a weirdness. The problem is, both individuals are directly connected with no interval of disconnection, so any amount of silence is suffered and ending the conversation and the connection can be awkward. Nextel has advanced significantly in this direction by making phones with Direct Connect. This feature cures the need to fill empty airtime and conduct a proper closure; when there's nothing more to say, you can just walk away without feeling guilty or embarrassed. Maybe with the implementation of new technology, this stressful machine called the telephone can be labelled as obsolete, and moved aside to allow for the next generation of communication devices that prevent social discomfort.