Friday, September 12, 2014


Yeah yeah, I know. Haven't written in forever, blah blah blah. We've been down that road before and we all know how great I am at keeping those promises.

I'm here today to hopefully spur myself into remembering how fun and easy it can be to write on this blog. This post is kind of a two-parter, each distinctly connected through the common thread of Starbucks coffee.

For those of you who don't know or don't remember, I sported a green apron for almost three and a half years, better known as most of my collegiate career. It's a phenomenal company and I have almost entirely nothing but good things to say about them as a company and as an employer. As a byproduct of this, I remain loyal to Starbucks to provide me with caffeine intermittently throughout my work week, and occasionally on the weekends. That means I make anywhere from five to ten trips into the warm embrace of a Starbucks coffee shop in any given week.

With this frequency, you start to notice things about your fellow patrons. One thing that has always slayed me and once nearly spurred me to the tipping point of nudging a stroller is the promised land in the few hundred square feet of any Starbucks known as the condiment bar. It is here that we can tinker with our drinks like scientists in a lab until they reach coffee perfection. For 95% of grown adults, especially those who are creatures of habit enough to visit a Starbucks, we know how to prepare our coffee to our liking. I drink a venti black coffee and add one Sweet & Low and one Equal, stir, then leave. I'm efficient as all hell. I am in and out of a condiment stand in under 30 seconds. I even understand those of you who are a little more complex; throw some cinnamon in there, sift through the pitchers in search of the whole milk. But for the love of all that's holy, please, please know what you're doing to your coffee before you get to the condiment stand ahead of me.

This is my experience the other day: I was running behind schedule, as I am sometimes wont to do in the morning time. I get my coffee, and there are two people, taking up the entirety of the condiment stand. This is fine.

Then, this woman who was already there, as soon as the man next to her leaves, scoots to the MIDDLE of stand.

She takes a half & half pitcher, pours.

She takes the sugar, pours.

She picks the half & half pitcher back up, pours.

She takes the vanilla powder. Shake shake shake.

She takes the sugar, pours.

She picks up her coffee cup, now filled to the absolute limit.

Sip. Stand. Stare.

She stirs the coffee.

Sip. Stand. Stare.

She takes the vanilla powder. Shake.

She takes the cinnamon. Shake.

Sip. Stand. Stare.

Sip. Sip. Sip.



Finally I saw that the level of liquid in her cup was low enough for me to elbow her on my way to the sweetener, and elbow her I did. I grabbed the two packets and a stir stick and carried them to my office with me rather than taking care of it at the Starbucks.

She was still staring out the window when I got to the corner and the light had finally changed.

This is what I deal with at least once a week.

So, now. This evening I was on my way home on the bus, which is always an adventure in and of itself, as has been well chronicled here in several posts.

I am standing in my regular spot at the middle of the train, and as the doors are closing at one station, a guy comes trying to gracefully slide through the doors as they shut. He failed, and damn near smacked an unsuspecting patron in the head with his messenger bag, which he'd whipped in behind him to avoid it being stuck outside of the train.

Naturally, the near victim never even realized because they were playing Candy Crush.

Now, for those of you have had the distinct pleasure of riding San Francisco's Municipal Transit system, you know that if the doors are interrupted whilst closing, they will re-open to their maximum level so as to avoid crushing limbs or people.

So the doors re-open in this entry, then they begin to close again. Again someone tries to throw themselves into the train before it scoots away. Except this person made one HUGE tactical mistake: the only body part they put out to interrupt the doors from closing was their left hand, which was holding a Caramel Frappuchino.

Apparently, this uninformed soul did not think the doors might actually meet when the closed around their wrist, so their reflex when this happened was to relinquish the grip on their beverage.... which then flew halfway into the train, and promptly exploded. Shoes were showered with sugary goop, caramel, and whipped cream, and the whole center area of the car was suddenly a beige puddle. And what does this wonder of human achievement do once they realize they have given six or seven MUNI patrons a frappe shower? She gets on the train, steps over the puddle, and finds a seat like nothing ever happened.

Some days, it's just too much.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Not as Smart as One Might Think

For any of you worried about privacy invasion with all this "intelligent internet targeting" I have irrefutable proof that the computer marketers aren't nearly as smart as they'd like to think they are.

A friend passed along a Google Offers deal to me, and I noticed the "Your Favorite Brands" section in the lefthand banner side of the page. I am compelled to see exactly what Google believes my favorite, can't-live-without stores might be, according to the years and years of rich data they have been secretly and not-so-secretly collecting from me using their search engine. What follows is the official list, with a little commentary on each store as it pertains to me.

1) McCormick & Schmick's - I don't know what this business is or what it does. I have never heard of it before in my life, and part of me wanted to search and see what it was, but then Google would see that I was seeking out info on the place, and might think that I'm actually interested.

2) Morton's The Steakhouse - I like steaks, I'll give them that. I like steakhouses and even eating in steakhouses. I've never been to Morton's, but I suppose that if I were to be presented with a great deal to go to one, I'd highly consider it.

3) Juicy Couture - I have never owned a pair of sweats with writing on the butt. I will never own a pair of sweats with writing on the butt. To my knowledge I've never dated a female who has owned a pair of sweats with writing on the butt, and at this stage in my life, if I haven't yet, here's hoping I never do. I know they do more than sweats with writing on the butt, but that is literally the extent of my knowledge on this brand.

4) Chico's - I know nothing about Chico's. It's women's clothes, right? I think there used to be one in the mall. Either way, I know nothing about them.

5) Tilly's - Okay, I'll admit, I actually did a little google search on these guys because it was yet another brand that I had absolutely no knowledge of at all. Based on the name, I developed the opinion that it was probably a store featuring old lady clothes. But it's actually a skate/surf clothing shop, which is cool I guess. At least I learned something, right?

6) Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft - I don't know if I've ever been to a Jo-Ann before. I have been to fabric/craft stores, and I have to say, the main reason to go is that the girls who work there (let's be honest, there are NEVER men employees at a craft store) tend to be cute pixie-ish craft-minded girls, which I'm kind of into. That's the best part about going into those stores. Totally worth the awkwardness of walking into a craft store as a single and terribly out-of-place man.

7) Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. - I've been once, with the fam, right when these restaurants started popping up in mega-malls. As memory serves, it was cool. I think it's on Pier 39, right? I just remember that the waiter pulled up a chair and sat at our table to take our orders, which my parents deemed "quirky."

8) BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse - Been a couple of times, this one isn't that far off the mark, because if I got a good coupon, I'd probably go take advantage of it.

9) Barnes & Noble - Do physical bookstores even exist anymore? Does anyone buy books online from somewhere that's not Amazon or Not. Interested.

10) LIDS - For all your hat needs. Because I wear so many hats. Sports hats. Actually, the only thing (besides hats) that I associate with Lids is Chris Walla, guitarist from Death Cab for Cutie, who went through a period of time on Twitter last summer where he'd randomly tweet "Lids!" and for some unknown reason, it always made me giggle. Thank you, Google Deals, for reminding me about that.

So clearly, based on this experience in shopping recommendations from the smartest search engine in the universe (my generic claim, not theirs) you can clearly see that, if their shopping deals recommendations are any indication, we have nothing to worry about them finding out everything about our lives, reading our minds, or turning us into their automatons who mindlessly shuffle around in order to power their grand schemes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Just a quick story, because I feel like it's almost too good to pass up.

At my office, we have a dog. Yes, technically, one person in my office has a dog, but when you have one person who brings in their pet all the time, it kind of just becomes the "office pet". But anyways, we have an office dog. As anyone who knows much of anything about me is aware, I am a cat person. I don't harbor any specific beef towards dogs, they just don't really make me all goofy the way cats do.

Now the president of my company, who is a character, is completely smitten with this dog. Like "head-over-heels ecstatic, the owner better keep an eye out because one day that dog is going to disappear and the president will claim not to not know anything about it" kind of obsessed.

Yesterday, the president and I were in the kitchen at work, and the dog was in there with us, staring up at him, and he was making eyes at the dog, talking about how cute she was and how much she brightens up his otherwise mundane days. He then turns to me and asks if I like the dog. I naturally say "oh yeah, me and dog, we're totally cool. We're almost friends."

At this point he asks a question that I have never really considered when relating to animals before: "Why do you like the dog?"

I stop and think for a second. The question has totally thrown me for a loop. I mainly like the dog because I am a moderately normal adult, and insofar as that the dog has done me no specific harm, and has given me no major reasons to not like it, I like the dog. But that can be hard to convey to someone else, especially given that the dog pooped on the carpet on Wednesday. That was as close as I got to not liking the dog.

So I dig deeper. And I start rambling, as I occasionally have a habit of doing, especially when put on the spot. "She's... cute. And kind of friendly. She's always around, and she walks all funny, which amuses me." Then I start to see exactly where I need to steer this description. "Yeah, you know she's cute, she's usually fun to be around or at least entertaining, most everyone else likes her a lot too. But she can be kind of inconsistent - some days she will walk right up to me and be completely interested in me, but most of the time she doesn't even acknowledge that I'm in the room. I would say I like her a minimum of six times as much as she likes me....

"In fact, that is probably what I think makes me like her so much: she reminds me of the last few girls that I've dated."

And that, my friends, is the honest-to-goodness truth.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Portent of Things To Come

Nope, I'm not writing a state-of-the-blog post promising all sorts of exciting things I have in store for the next few posts (I have a few ideas, but I'm not making any promises). Rather, this is a story I've told some people in the past; a story that came up in conversation with my roommate tonight, and I figured putting it down in print would be a fun way to re-live it a little bit.

As I recall, this all took place in the glorious sumer between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. I was a precocious eighteen year old, completely immersed in the retro revival of the late nineties and early aughts. It was the Fourth of July, and my best friend and I were going to see The Reverend Horton Heat at The Great American Music Hall here in San Francisco. I feel like maybe this was even the first time I ever saw him live, but that is inconsequential to the story at hand.

So there I was, a retro-tastic teen, in black slacks, Chuck Taylors, and a bowling-type shirt in black and red with buttons that looked like dice. So in other words, I thought I looked like a million bucks. My friend and I had experienced a change of plans and ended up with hours to kill before the show, so we spent it as all broke teenagers would when stranded in the Geary and Van Ness area -- we spent like two hours drinking coffee at Mel's Diner. Needless to say, this did not ingratiate us to the waitstaff, who was out two counter spots on a combined $2.00 tab. Regardless, we sat and drank coffees until we just couldn't drink coffee anymore.

We got to the show, took in the opening band (maybe Southern Culture on the Skids?) and pressed the flesh with other locals that we knew from the rockabilly and swing scene. At some point, the coffee kicked in and we both had to run to the bathroom to empty our caffeine-addled bladders.

I made my way out of the bathroom before my friend, and stood there in the balcony of the venue, probably posturing to show off how well put together I was. In under a minute, and older woman walked up to me. Remember, I was eighteen, so "older" probably meant something like mid-to-late twenties, but regardless, I saw her look me up and down and make her way over. Naturally, I straightened up and played it all cool and casual.

I asked "Hey.. how's it going?"

"Pretty good -hey, I just had to tell you something."

Naturally, I figured she was going to tell me I was the best looking guy in the room, or that I was everything she could dream of in a man. Because how could she not? So, with sultry gaze in tow, I cooly lifted my eyebrows and said

"Really.... what is it you have to..... tell me?"

"You have toilet paper stuck to the heel of your shoe. I figured you'd want to know before you went downstairs."

And with that, my cool, calm collected facade shattered like a cheap mirror, I blushed redder than my shirt, and thanked her profusely for the heads up.

Lesson Learned: Nope, she's not interested. 

Alas, that lesson has been the most consistently applicable one I've learned in pretty much my entire dating life. Oh, and to always check your shoes when you make that first step out of the bathroom.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Little Things In Life

It's already late, but I was just thinking about how much I think. This came about because I just afforded myself about 45 minutes of glorious oblivion where I was able to sit down on the couch after a long day and not think for a change. I threw on some TV, and just allowed myself to go mentally numb for a bit. And it was glorious, it really was. I was able to take a momentary vacation from my life that was really quite refreshing. Then, as always happens, I got up from the couch and my mind started racing with all the things that I wasn't thinking about.

Maybe it's the curse of being a Pisces (I don't really buy into all that, but I had to do some writing for work about a horoscopes toolbar that my company is working on, and some of it actually made some sense), but I realized that I think a lot. Like a lot. I think about things I need to think about. I think about what I have to do. I think about what I haven't done. I think about what I did that day, and if I could have done it better. I think about my plans, my dreams, my aspirations, my shortcomings. I think about why I think so much about things that I don't really need to think about. It makes me sound neurotic, but it's all the truth.

I think about work. I constantly think about the craft of writing, about grammar and syntax. I think about word counts and character counts, about line breaks, and the way text fits on a page. I think about using compelling language and what kinds of words I can use to influence people to do the things we want them to do. I think about paragraph length, and how many sentences is too many before adding a little white space. I think about how frequently I do or don't use bulleted lists. Turns out they're highly effective

  • Because they're eye catching
  • Because they break up bunches of text nicely
  • Because they're a convenient way to cleanly lay out information
  • Because that's part of what doing my job consists of
and then I think about how many lists is too many, because after all, the world is written in prose not in lists.

I think about the lists I make for myself, to stay on top of things at work, and to keep in mind what I need to do when I get home, because I am thinking of chores I have to do, but I'm at work, so I can't do them. I think about how I spend my time, and wonder if I am making the most of my time away from my desk. Then I think about whether or not really making the most of my time outside of work might drive me to exhaustion. I try to remember if I talked to my parents recently, if I have spoken with friends frequently enough, and if I have told certain people certain stories. (I usually haven't, because I have a habit of assuming that once I've told someone that story, I've told everyone that story.) I think about how I should probably exercise more, because given the copious amounts of caffeine I take in, paired with an enjoyment of drinking and a carb-heavy diet, I need to exercise more. I think about when I can fit that in my schedule, and what things I could not be doing to make time to get a little more fit and trim.

I think about big picture stuff, and that makes me think more about the little details. I think about how I should write more, how I should spend more time playing music, how I shouldn't get so distracted with silly things like shitty TV shows and cats on the internet. I think about how I should date more. I think about how I should read more. I think about how I should read less and write more. I think about how I should write less and live more. I think about what kind of t-shirt collar best defines me as a person (for the record, the v-neck is totally killing it right now). I think about now that I'm my age if it is silly to still cling to some of my dreams and aspirations, or if I should approach life from a more realistic standpoint and focus on settling into a comfortable work life. I wonder how much longer I can go on keeping the hours that I keep before it starts to take a toll on my general happiness, and then I realize that half of my happiness comes from what I do or get done in those late nights.

Sadly, that's just the tip of the iceberg. I have spent probably an unhealthy amount of time spelunking in the caverns of my mind. The benefit is I have probably an above average sense of self, but the down side is that I'm pretty much always fucking thinking about thinking. So in those brief spurts of time where I can just shut down and be blissfully lazy, I find a certain amount of peace and solace. I can finally, if even for a little bit, just shut my mind off and not think, and sometimes that is the most important, most intelligent thing I can do.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

You Must Be Really Fun at Parties

Okay, so in my last blog post, I talked about that former classmate of mine who is obsessed with going on cruises. I was going to start talking about this in that blog post, but realized it was better served for a posting all its own, but I am always kind of fascinated who dive headlong into their obsessions with no reservations whatsoever. It can be anything: cats, macrame, cruises, tattooing, fantasy sports, shipmaking, whatever. I can't help but marvel at people for whom their obsession is their life and they are devoted to it so wholeheartedly that they don't notice or just don't care that most everyone they know doesn't share that obsession.

This post isn't just an ode to my cruise-going classmate, it was also inspired greatly by this video, which I saw the other day. This man believes he has dedicated at least three thousand hours of his life to making a kinetic toothpick statue of the SF Bay Area. Seeing the video, I think he's undercutting that by way too much, but regardless... Watch the video, and listen to the guy talk. You can tell that is all he knows in life. If anyone asks him about his interests, hobbies, what he does for a living, what he did over the weekend, any of that, you know they're getting a diatribe about his toothpick statue.

I know that I can be guilty of this at times. I talk about music a lot. I talk about my bands a whole hell of a lot, but more than anything, I love to listen. Deep down, despite how it might seem for those of you who read this blog, I'm actually pretty quiet and introverted, and would greatly prefer to talk than to listen. I have a pretty varied group of interests, and there's nothing I enjoy more than learning about things I'm otherwise unfamiliar with. Now, having said that, I don't know that I'd want to sit around and learn all about the finer arts of toothpick sculpting, but there are plenty of things that might pique my interest that I know absolutely nothing about.

I guess my larger gripe is just with those people who are so obsessive about their interests that they automatically assume it is fascinating to the general public, and they feel they have been given license to prattle on whilst ignoring all the unspoken cues that people don't really give as much of a damn about it as they do.

I am also curious about the role that the internet plays in this dynamic. Obviously, you can find an online community of people that share an interest in just about anything: painting, poetry, John Hughes movies, beauty tips, artificial insemination of livestock, you name it. It's wonderful that these people can find kindred spirits and share their mutual obsessions, it really is. I love that people spanning the globe can pool their knowledge and energies to advancing anything, even if it is the preservation of pre-1930s haberdashery. Doesn't matter what, I think it's wonderful. However, the flip side of that coin is that, despite the way it may seem, people live their lives outside of the internet, if even for a precious few hours, and they enter the outside world armed with a whole new set of information that the average person they interact with doesn't care about. And since most of their online interactions are with people who share the obsession, and encourage their obsessive behaviors, in my mind they are less likely to realize that happens on the internet, not in the real world.

But maybe I'm just cynical, and if I stopped rambling on about my band or the underground pop punk movement on the eastern sea board, I'd realize that I'm just as bad as anyone else.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Root Down

I may be considered odd for saying so, but there's a very unique and indelible truth about yours truly: I don't understand the love for exotic travel.

Yeah, it's no big deal, and everyone has their own opinions, and I respect that. Not everyone has a great time at shady hole-in-the-wall bars, but that happens to be just about where I feel the most at home, and in that same vein, I just don't get people who say "Man, you know what I want to do with my free time and money? Go to some weird under-developed corner of the globe."

The reason I bring this up is twofold:

First, I have been thinking about this mainly because vacations and travels have been at the forefront of conversation in the lunchroom at my job recently. I have two co-workers who have traveled to or are travelling currently in Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, etc. Another just booked a trip to Panama. Another still just got back into town after a week in remote corners of Mexico. These travels have sparked the discussion among other co-workers about their "bucket list" travel destinations, among which the apparent consensus number one pick is The Maldives. This is incredibly ego- and ethno-centric of me to say, but the only things I know about The Maldives is that they are a chain of islands and that they're in the Indian Ocean. (I hope to god those facts are right)

When the discussion turned to me, and everyone asked where I'd want to go next when I decide to travel, all I could say was "Austin."

I am curious if I just happen to work with a bunch of intrepid travelers who love the idea of escaping civilization, or if I am just boring as all hell. I can't help it, I just happen to believe that there is so much within the fifty states that I haven't experienced or seen, that I want to knock out all of my country's local flair before I start really venturing out there.

That being said, I'd go to most of Europe at the drop of a hat. I'd love to drink beer all across Germany. I'd kill for the chance to go back to Sweden and live it up with all the relatives who only remember me as an apple-cheeked youth of eight. (spoiler alert: I got old, got heavy, and got kinda cynical, but in what I believe is a pretty entertaining and comical way) Plus, I've never spent proper time in the British Isles, and that just seems like a dreary, cold, boozy good time.

Especially having seen these travel preparations up close and personal - most of my co-workers have gone through a whole battery of shots for fun stuff like malaria, typhoid, and dengue fever. The Mexican travelling co-worker said her boyfriend spent two of their six days unromantically wrapped around a toilet, puking uncontrollably. Some complain about the extreme heat of tropical locales, while others complain about freezing their tails off on another continent.

The second reason is because an old high school acquaintance of mine has developed an obsession with cruises. Like, at the moment he has gone on a total of 20 cruises, and has another four booked for the next few months. He's the same age as me, which means that probably early next year he will hit the point where his total number of cruises is equal to his age. That's just so bizarre to me. I don't have a whole lot more to say, mainly because that idea is so odd to me. It's like avoiding your real life by basically living on a boat when you're not working (he works for an airline, so he travels non-stop for work as well). It's just a foreign concept to me, but it seems to make him happy as a clam.

Then again, maybe I'm just jaded because I'm a San Franciscan. I love this city, and feel that I can vacation here and have just as much fun, and I don't have to buy different clothes or wear shoes that I can easily remove for security reasons.

Who knows. All I know is that those co-workers can keep their exotic travels and their foreign diseases. I'll stay in SF, spend my money going to shows and having fun with my friends, and live vicariously through the people I know who do travel; it's a hell of a lot easier on the digestive system if nothing else.