Fast(er) Food

Oh lordy. Just when you thought that ordering your dinner on-the-go from your car just wasn't fast enough...

Outsourcing the drive thru voice? Computer systems that run algorithms to predict consumer needs? What next...psychics and soothsayers??

I just love that nothing is fast enough, loud enough, flashy enough, or big enough for this country. And by god, if profits falter because of it, bring on the innovation and meet me at the bottom line!

When did the priority really change from customer service to stuffing shareholders' clutch purses? Can we always outdo the outdone? No wonder there's so much sleep debt and corporate scandal. It's a mad-freaking-dash out there!

I don't want to go all reactionary, but stuff like this makes me take pause and thank the maker I made it out of the corporate lifestyle. I mean, I realize that necessity is the mother of invention, but ponder to yourself what is gained from a FASTER drive-thru experience? And what does that say about our lifestyles of excess and "all about me" attitudes and approaching anything we experience or do with consumer expectations (like going to school to "buy" a degree or treating people as human capital)?

In our pursuits, I think there is a balance we should strive to achieve. Excess is rarely met with satisfaction -- it fuels a quest for more. We need to think about opportunities to experience, not bits of time to save. Convenience can be damned inconvenient sometimes.

But then, I don't speak in truths. These are nothing more than me thinks.

Suite I: Beginnings

Page Turner

At the bookstore in Castro
I met you eye for eye-full
catching your nervous glance
at the magazines
the catch in my throat
I fetched a book to distract me
reading my heartbeats between the lines
you scratched your forehead
I smiled to myself, like putting down
a really good book.

Untitled For Now

I remember back when I was seven
my brother traced the lines in the palm of my hand
claiming it would reveal
how many children I would have
he studied the creases and said "none."

Could he predict my homosexuality
or my pending loneliness
signs mean something only in retrospect
foreshadow is for stories predetermined
and yet my life is a game of solitaire
hand after hand without a hand to hold
I tell myself I can hold my own
who needs the complexity or complications
when I can keep it all so easy.

I read somewhere that we cannot tickle ourselves
because the brain anticipates, compensates
for the pressure of a predictable force
I pondered this and my easy solution
in a life without surprise
without the hands of another
that I cannot anticipate or control.

Suite II: The Return

The sight of you was
removing cramped shoes from worn feet
the sigh following fitful laughter
inhaling after coming up for air
I was filled with your presence
butterflies occupying vital organs
marshalling words into coherence
leaning against the counter
shaking hands, we caught up briefly
while caught up with the notion
we were meant for something more
than two men without last names.

Suite III: Endings


frail fingers wrapped thinly
cover brittle bones
without touch or comfort
shy away, self-medicate
reach toward emptiness.
if no one listened
or cared for his well-being
would he decay
into nothing?
ashes to ashes.


kick aside the bodies
back to your business
and your lot in life
time to catch up
we can't afford a minute's rest
or a little breather
cancel your free time
and work until
death creates convenience.

Tale of Two Movies

The connective tissue of the two movies I saw in the last two days is the wonderful actress, Laura Linney. As I discussed these movies with a friend, she mentioned that Laura tends to take on meaningful roles in movies that warrant thought and reflection. After enjoying these movies, I find myself in agreement.

The first movie I saw was The Squid and the Whale. This film chronicles a family that is dealing with the transition of a divorce. Performances are amazing all around. The characters felt vivid and complex. The movie was both hilarious in how each member chooses to deal with their pain (like the younger son's cussing tirades and other activities) and sad at the same time. I didn't find it sad because of the actual break up -- let's be honest, some family environments simply aren't adaptive and healthy. The sadness for me came from the character's isolation from one another -- their journeys were very much separate from one another. When together, the family dynamics felt real. For example, I was impressed with the portrayal of each son "siding" or identifying more with one of the parents. Or how the father, played by Jeff Daniels, twisted events in his life as a means of earning approval (both his own and from others). The mother sought comfort in being in relationships. The older son, who saw his father as a role model, followed in his footsteps by using his intellect and force of personality to feel valued.

The second movie was The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Admittedly, I did not know what to anticipate from this movie. I probably would not have seen it if I wasn't called on by a friend who didn't want to see it alone. All I can say is the trailers do not serve the story well. While they may have been an effective marketing campaign (because the imagery is quite creepy), the focus of the movie is on the trial of the priest who performed the failed exorcism -- was he guilty of negligent homicide? The movie provides a perfect balance of horror and court drama. Moreover, it instigates questions of belief but provides no answers -- as Laura Linney's character says, the case asks us what the possibilities are. Just when I thought Emily's experience had a medical explanation, another piece of evidence suggested a supernatural possession. Then another possibility was presented (which I won't give away). In the end, it asks us to reflect, but doesn't act as an agent for change. We are encouraged to undergo the same process Linney's character (who is Agnostic) faces. As a non-believer who defends a Catholic priest and encounters unexplained phenomena, she takes a journey herself. The dynamics in the courtroom, the testimonies, and the opening and closing statements (particularly by Linney's character) were the force of this movie. The flashbacks to the exorcism provide a graphic and disturbing experience that lets the viewer take in the events and make his/her own conclusions.

The Frailty of All Things

How did we break up like Pangea drifting still remembered in how we used to fit together like a puzzle and if you found the missing pieces you too could rule the world without any faults a continental division begs the question of separate needs pulled into different directions cursing like Mount St. Helen's dirty talk or covering up a decision like a tsunami the stomp of Italy into Africa's coast we are global warming on a personal scale changes in the climate of our passions fueled by unreplenished natural resources there's no intimacy to keep us together for good so we continue our split in every storm and jet stream shift and eruption deep within the fissured heart of the Marianas Trench.

I thought recently of the impermance of life. The range of our experiences can cause laughter and sorrow. Many of the strongest experiences come from love. How we feel for people. What we do for it. How we express it. Knowing when to wield it and when to let go. It is within these ambiguities that we experience the changing reality of our lives. The evolution is inevitable. This poem is a reflection of one of those movements.

Art Therapy

In the face of adversity, a person has choice. Biologists would talk of the fight, flight, or freeze response as an autonomic reaction to fear or danger. At the level of thought and emotion, a person can withdraw socially, go on a shopping spree, slip into depression, or solve the problem.

I have lived this week with a wolf at my door -- why it's there doesn't matter at this point. What matters to me is how I face the wolf. And there's no force more powerful than creation.

Many victims of tragedy express their feelings through art. By creating, they know they are still alive. As someone suffering a depressive bout, I had a similar need of expression.

I once watched a Discover channel segment about this artist who created sculptures from the lava of erupted volcanoes on the Hawaiian islands. He said something that stuck with me:

"Art, like childbirth, is often messy and seldom painless. But you love the result."

How awesome is that? So I took a half day from work and went motoring. Motoring is not driving. One drives to reach a destination. One motors for the experience. And of course, the MINI is THE motoring vehicle. I motored where I hadn't been before and when a scene caught my eye, I snapped it with the camera. Now I want to share some moments with you:

Farm land outside of Urbana, Illinois. When I passed the farm house in the distance, the owner was checking her mailbox. I waved.

Another perspective. Road signs intrigue me. If only life had more of these friendly direction posts.

I have always loved black and white photography. Somehow, the picture seems to capture more detail than a color photo. Can you spot the moon in this shot?

I came across this cemetary on top of this hill in the middle of farm land. I love the cloud striation.

A parked train straddled this crossing. Just as I arrived, another train was crossing the closer set of tracks. There is something mysterious and novel about trains. They are a piece of history, like many things, that disappears slowly before our eyes. It is hard to say if I will outlive the fate of trains. That would be sad.

As I pulled away from the crossing, I noticed this tag on the tanker car. Without that glance, I would have missed it. It seems someone else was in need of art therapy.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. The journey was a reminder that I can get past the depressive wolf. That nature and life are forms of therapy, if you look at them in a certain way. That we live in a beautiful world.

Vignettes of Time IV: Sleep Debt (Reprise)

In a world forgetful of Vincent van Gogh -
We're dozing behind the wheel,
We're missing the joys of life,
We're living new disorders,
We're withdrawing too much time.

Vignettes of Time III: The Corporate Method of Savings

Ebbinghaus told us we can measure forgetting by computing the difference between the number of repetitions needed to learn and, after a delay, relearn the same material. He called this methods of savings.

Corporations have corrupted savings with bland, mindless biz babble in the name of efficiency and effectiveness. You have heard it all before:

"You must be able to multi-task." -- does reading the paper and shaving while eating my McDonalds on the phone while driving count?

"Let's not reinvent the wheel." -- I'd like to reinvent my foot up your ass, you asshat!

"Our office requires that employees be flexible." -- like a contortionist in a carnival?

"We'd like to achieve synergy." -- raise your hand if you know what the fuck this means? mine's down by the way.

As we know, being all these things won't be good enough soon enough. Allow me to predict some new corporate slang that office idiots can vomit:

** omni-task ** let's face it, multi-tasking is kinda lazy, especially when you can work in all ways, in all places, of all things.

** agility ** flexibility simply connotes that you can bend if asked. not having it. we need people who are proactive synergizers who leverage their agility on the fly

** 2+2=6 ** since the 90s, 2+2 hasn't equal 4. but why should it continue to only equal 5?

** nowcasters ** why have forecasters waste time trying to predict the future trends when a nowcaster can dict the current hot commodities as they emerge? why worry about what came first when you simultaneously create the chicken AND the egg?

Does any of this make sense? It doesn't have to. Just say it like you mean it in the office and you'll be promoted to your level of incompetence.

Vignettes of Time II: Still Spring After All These Years

It's like looking up from deep thought
or an engrossing book and not knowing
what time it is -
strange that night crept up quietly,
how did I read without light?

And in an escape, we left for a trip into
the mountains of Costa Rica
to explore nature and experience life -
I once awoke to the sound of rain,
peered toward the ocean,

and wondered what day it was -
yet in an instant, we had gone.

How fragile our time
and arbitrary our perception of it,
a future separated by finite instances
like Neptunian spring in its twelfth year,
capitulated into the belief that summer
is obstructed by decades of suddenly-missed instances
stretched indefinitely through memory.

Vignettes of Time I: Sleep Debt

in a mad dash world gone mobile it's everything on the run to the direct deposit drive-thru on-line 24 hour convenience - if confused press 1 if absolutely fucked press on - it's the cities that never sleep - always a flourescence to life that blurs a drowsy stare showdown with the computer screen - pick up the pace of the race - grab a quick shower - take five - smoke a fast one in between - back to the grind that raises the bar on employees judged by lack of social life of the year/month/day - who's working hardest smartest fastest now? now? now? - cars are moving living droning - cover your ears buried in pillows and turn up the soft noise for some peace and quiet - drown out the worries with a drink or five - drink responsibly eat right exercise balance yourself - lock the doors buy an alarm be suspicious of your neighbors - avoid isolated places at night stay safe - stay home alone behind locked door alarms with state of the art satisfaction guaranteed or your misery back - allow 6-8 weeks to process your fear - sort it out stop thinking hurry to bed - let the TV sing you to sleep - spare some time for all work no play - maximize potential - be all that you can be in your army of one - reach for the stars it's a mugging of your inner peace and actualization held at sleep point - in the blink of an eye seven to six-thirty starts again - make up for lost work time co-worker burnout - vacation is a sick day so pick up the slack - "on the run" is no good get it "on the fly" - multitask multitrack multiplex - all the birds with one stone - save time save shareholders save a place in line - stay in line by the book - keep it together - forget lunch - power nap - it's never enough - withdrawing more and more time that isn't there - up at night up all day - who has time for exhaustion - clock ticks clock tocks ticks tocks - each sound another withdrawal like deficit spending - easier to take more and more time - no credit card to pay back no limit to exceed - no way to make up for all the worries and sleep debt

A Matter of Serious Import

Teachers come in all shapes and sizes. None are as massive in their field as Allcock and Dickerson.

Clive Allcock and Mark Dickerson are two men who work together, often deep into the night. They have collaborated many times and are quite familiar with one another. As I'm sure you know, Allcock and Dickerson are respected researchers on gambling and addiction.

Both men have huge talent. One must wonder, when Allcock met Dickerson, did they think long and hard about what would come of their partnership? As someone who has known plenty of academicians, I assume they knew that their work would be well-received, not like some other blow-hards who work on silly-hearted pseudoscience.

So after you read the excerpt from their gambling research, you may be confused about your role in this affair. Allow me to sum up what they are saying in lay terms:

1. If you haven't scored in a while, you think you are more likely to get some soon
2. Sometimes you are willing to pay for it
3. You aren't as good as you think you are
4. If given a choice, people prefer longer to shorter
5. We often enter into it with clouded judgment
6. Outcomes may vary if a group is involved

So take it from Allcock and Dickerson, both big names in their field -- It's a hard lessen everyone has to learn. Sometimes more than once.


I just got violated tonight, and not in a good way!

So I'm at Meijer doing some midnight shopping and picked up 6 birthday cards, some well in advance, but they fit folks I know all too well, so no big whoop. I get to the only open check out lane (except the do-it-your-damn-self lanes, over which I drastically exceed the 12 item limit -- curse ya!). Okay, and dude is a bit big and scary, but whatever. So he proceeds to examine EVERY item I purchased. He's looking over the produce, checking out the turkey and ham, and he's being deliberate about it. Like he's either overly curious or he thinks I need his approval for my purchases. Either way, a bit creepy. But then the kicker...he reads every single one of the cards! Oh no, he doesn't just glance at them because I purposefully placed the cards upside down in the flap of the envelope so he can quickly swipe them all. Nah, not having it. Dude turns over each card, reads the front, opens it and reads the punchlines. Dude!? What the fook?

So forget 1984,
the Panopticon, black surveillance spheres, Big Brother, Kid Sister, and Uncle Daddy -- Meijer dude is the new perv of privacy violation!

Snakes on a Plane

I always enjoy a movie that is not afraid to announce just how ridiculous it is merely by it's title. I offer up "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle", "Dude, Where's My Car?", and "Freddy Got Fingered" as some obvious ones. And now we quickly segue to my absolute favorite...

"Snakes on a Plane" LOL

And the kicker stars non other than Samuel L. Jackson! Ooh, I can just hear it now...

"What the fuck you telling me, stewardess? Are there mo-fucking snakes on this GODDAMN PLANE!? What the fuck, muthafucker!"

Mwuhahahahaha!!! This is cracking me up!!

The first thing that came to mind...there was an SNL sketch once about a cobra on an airplane that talked to people and snuck up behind them and bit them. I think Christopher Walken was in it, which made it scary by that fact alone. Okay, it was a wreck, but by gum, you just couldn't look away.

So I did a little snooping about on this flick and found a few freakin funny things. First off, there are photos to enjoy. Is it a coincidence that the banner along the top is for disaster relief? LOL -- the verdict is still out.

The best for last -- this movie has been immortalized before it's even out! The phrase "snakes on a plane" has already made it into Urban Dictionary with various meanings and phraseology! My favorite is using it as to say, "eh, shit happens." (sigh) This has been a great laugh for me.

If you thought Napoleon Dynamite had too many t-shirts printed in its honor, wait until this one catches on. Oops, too late.

God, I love cyberspace : )