<-- You Are Here

During my last therapist visit, the conversation came to my upfront confession of having obsessive-compulsive qualities around organization. I do like cleanliness, but my big thing is organizing. I told Therapist I think having a bit of OCD in me is quite functional. She responded that she thinks a lot of that quality is a good thing (though not to the clinical extremes).

Hmm... has Therapist opened a neatly packed Pandora's Box? See, my secret delight is having"authority figures" agree with my seemingly warped view of the world. Oh, what validation it brings! And she's given me therapeutic license to stack, situate, line up, orient, file, and color-coordinate myself into a self-indulged coma!

Cue the satisfying exhale. Commisery loves company!

I live in what some people would refer to as neatly-arranged pseudo-chaos. No one has ever said that to me (in those words), but I'd admit it before anyone else did, so I come off as self-aware and modest. That's my other issue. Therapy is so much fun!! I've spent my entire life monitoring my own thoughts and behaviors (ranging from reflective to self-critical(<-- see, that's a monitoring statement right there(which means I need to comment on it, as I have clearly done))), searching for connective tissue, and then, POOF! I can hire someone to do that for me! With me!

She's like my internal tour guide, showing me the secret passages that connect all the attractions together. That realization makes me feel like a spectator to my inner workings. The proverbial stranger in my own house. And I assumed all along I was the director. Turns out, my control is limited, my input sometimes scarce. How laissez-faire of me!

Odd how I've lived in this body all along and never knew my way around. But I guess the corridors are ever-changing, stress occupies various waiting rooms, and thoughts wander through it all, as thoughts tend to do. Who has time to keep up with that? I have distractions to attend to! Truth is, the best we can do is sort it all out (in an orderly fashion) as best we can, and hope we are in control when we need to be. But being in control is my other issue. And that's for another post...

Land of the Free

I was struck today by an interesting concept when cruising the attention-deficit highway. There's a group starting a new fuel station - called Terror Free Oil.

Let's not mince words, after all, right?

The group believes the step toward energy independence is through terror-free oil. Hmm. But they still import the oil from non-Middle Eastern countries, so I wouldn't say energy indepedence is the outcome, so much as supplier shift. And obviously, the name boldly exclaims the prime directive - no longer buying oil from countries that finance or support terrorism...

Now that's an oil slick of a slippery slope. For what is terrorism? According to my friend Wikipedia:

"Terrorism is a term used to describe violence or other harmful acts committed (or threatened) against civilians by groups or persons for political or other ideological goals."

Hmm... would the US government ever do such a thing?

Now of course, the straight-forward truth is that they don't want to finance Middle Eastern terrorists (such as al Qaeda). And those groups have become the face to the word, terrorism. It's no different from products names that become the objects themselves - like dumpster, kleenex, and coke. Perhaps words are minced, after all.

So then I thought about the concept of free. Everyone likes to see the word, but we know that even free things come at a cost. Somehow, somewhere, you have paid for it. Even free trial periods and free samples are just a hook. Maybe you can hold out. But I bet you've caved and bought. Fess up!

Civil Freedom. That has a continuing cost.

In what other things are we seeking an absence? We have the healthy stuff (fat-free, sodium-free, sugar-free). You all know my position on caffiene-free. Then there's conflict-free diamonds (thanks, Leo and Djimon). Wrinkle-free pants, that's a good one. But they don't always deliver as promised. Who can I sue about that? I want a free ride.

My dad's Ford Freestar wasn't so free.

I'm beginning to see the future of this concept of "free." Here's my wish list for future free-ness:
- Line-free grocery checkout lanes
- Red light-free cruising
- Freegan-free communities (they are scurry folk)
- A Get Out of Jail Free card (hey, you never know; I could be a lawbreaker)

Penny for your thoughts? Feel free to share your opinion.


When it comes to attending a rousing exhibition of basketball, there are standard precepts one must keep in mind. In NCAA, the game is divded into two halves, not four quarters. The concession stand is overpriced. People have a sixth sense to know when they are featured on the jumbo-tron screen. White men can't jump. And you will always sit in front of the most loud and obnoxious fan this side of creation.

Fade into this Saturday. B-Dub, Foster, and I took to the flying saucer to watch the Fighting Illini square off against the Wisconsin Whomevers. Ferrets? Fowls? Something feral and ratty looking. The seats belonged to B-Dub's boss and he was gracious enough to lend out this trio... or was it graciousness he displayed? For Bossman had a dirty, annoying secret. One that was partially shared with B-Dub, but not so much as hinted to Foster and me. We were blindsided (blindsighted?), or should I say deafsided, by this ancient fossil of a creature with the most mind-splicing voice ever to be belched into my ear at point-blank.

Think of Dorothy Zbornak, the salty old thing from Golden Girls, played by the unparalleled Bea Arthur herself. Can you hear her voice? A bit mannish, yeah?

Now mix in a smidge of Large Marge, the undead truck driver from Pee Wee's Big Adventure. She had the look and the cackle to match.

Lastly, gingerly apply the rasp and grate of Gargamel, would-be destructor of the benevolent Smurfs. Nails on a chalkboard through a megaphone with screeching feedback doesn't begin to compare.

And the worst part is this old relic was a broken record. She basically had two banshee (or more appropriately, manshee) calls. When the Illini had the ball, she screamed "Let's Go!" But that's not really giving you the full effect. Because it sounded more like "S'GOOOHHHWWW!!!!!" And she managed to drag out the word into three separate syllables. Not sure how. When Wisconsin had the ball, she yelled "Defense!" But again, phoenetically, it sounded more like "Key-FEEEEHHHNNNZ!!!!" or sometimes just "FEEEEHHHNNNZ!!!"

As you know, the ball is run up and down the court many many times in a single game. When possession was turned over, Gargamel "Large Marge" Zbornak took it upon herself to belch out the same damned two phrases OVER AND OVER AND OVER at ear-piercing decibels within spitting distance. B-Dub should know, because he got a spittle bath the whole time. Serves him right for not warning us.

One time, she literally screamed "S'GO" for five seconds. Doesn't seem like a long time, does it? Grab the nearest child, spouse, or take yourself. Find a time piece, like a stopwatch or clock with a second hand. Now have your assistant scream as loud as he can for five seconds just behind you. If you are by yourself, find a small enclosed room to mimic the effect.

Pleasant, wasn't it?

Thus was our adventure with Gargamel Zbornak. It was both annoying and funny at the same time. I had to break out laughing on several occasions and try to mask it for something else. Afterward, we had the chance to talk about it openly (and without shame) and B-Dub said the last thing his boss told him on the phone was "S'GO! You'll know what it means." Did we ever!

Naturally, we had a field day coming up with her nicknames and making her say all the catchphrases of her character's likenesses:

"Tell em, Large Marge sent ya! S'GOOOOAAAAAWWWW!"

"Ma, the next time Stanley calls me, I'm going to belch in his face!"

"Azrael! To destroy those Smurfs, we must break through their Key-FEEEENNNNNZZZ!"

We were in stitches. There were two instances when she was yelling at some player to go or shoot the ball and they didn't make it (and there were plenty of didn't-make-it moments), she muttered ever so softly:


I think one of those was followed by a gutteral smoker's hack. We were surprised she still had a voice after that. And disappointed.

I'm all for yelling and swinging my rally towel 'round my head like a helicoptah, but let us all remember one thing. When you are in Section Way-The-Hell-Back-And-Up-There, feel free to yell, but don't banshee blast everyone at ground zero like they can hear you on the court. Because they most certainly can't. And you won't sway the game anyway. And I enjoy my hearing. And you aren't the sports commentator, else you'd have the job.

I've said my peace. And I'm finally happy to have hers, too.


It's time for me to release a burden by grumbling about another of my kooky coworkers. This go around, I'll introduce you to the one and only Clockwork!

Clockwork earned her name because she is a robot. I think. I suspect if I was to open her up, I'd find at least a circuit chip in her brain keeping her on a routine. That's her speciality -- routine. She's even been on the verge of tears when asked to change a simple thing, like, no longer keeping the soda in the fridge in this annoying wooden crate. I told her we could fit half as many cans in there if we just took this thing out. And I did. And it lasted for about two days. Then it magically appeared in the fridge. She tells me, the plastic shelf was cracking under the weight of the cans... Yes, she said that. Solution? Put the heavy-ass wooden 5 lb. crate back in there because "it disperses the weight!" Full-on genius, I say! I'm all for people supporting their own disorders, but at least fess up to your craziness.

Watching her is amazing. Remember in Naked Gun when the ballplayer has the chip inserted in his head and the bad guy presses the remote control button, and the player instantly turns into this robotic slave mumbling "I must kill... the Queen." That's Clockwork. Remember Vickie the Robot from that sitcom Small Wonder? She'd be all "11:30 a.m. Vacuum under the sofa." That's Clockwork. 3:00 p.m. Click. She automatically goes into the kitchen to cook popcorn. 4:00 p.m. on Friday. Click. She grabs the can to water the flowers. It's like you can see the fuse pop and off she goes. Lunch time. Click. Off to McDonald's to get her giganti-soda. Click. Get huffy with her annoying family on the phone for all to hear.
At least three times per day.

And the worst offense of them all: her daily dump. Yes, you read correctly. She number 2's in the house almost every day. What's the big whoop, Army? The big whoop is that we work in the House of Olden Days and you can smell it everywhere. Oh, and you don't just smell it, no. It's mixed with an aromatic cocktail of Cheap-As-Free Nast-o-Spray. The kind of stink spray that smells WORSE than the offensive odor it never covers up. That's the one. I'm getting all ill just thinking about it.

Deep down she's a nice person. But her inability to change even the smallest thing and her incessant routines drive me (and my sane coworkers) batty. I'll just have to love her for who she is. Well, as long as she goes next door to do her business from now on.

Motivational Hypnotism

I find this term to be quite oxymoronic (or perhaps just moronic). I first heard about motivational hypnotism from Foster's friend when we went out to eat this weekend. He was talking about how some corporations bring in these motivational speakers (ugh) to essentially work their martial arts (or hackery) of hypnosis on the audience. The idea is that workers will be more motivated on the job. I call it shadow training... or perhaps it's just brainwashing.

As it stands, most people are already hypnotized by the boring work they have to do. And now we have to alter our consiousness into another state in order to go to work on time, be a good little crony, and continue our workaday lives? At least experiment with mind-altering drugs first, so that we might enjoy the experience! I mean, we as the workers reserve the right to go into our own comas or catatonic states at our leisure, right? It's called "seeking sanity by avoidance" in the classic "job that ate my brain" scenario.

But seriously. I know there are benefits to meditation and hypnosis. They have scientific backing. And that's not to say that a one-on-one with a hypnotherapist may not help someone to work out a motivational block. I'm open to that idea. But to pay ol' Kreskin his circuit fee to pop in for his one-man "act" and tame the masses on the edge of karoshi, eye-stabbing boredom, and sanity because of their Stepford Managers, I say enough is enough. Resist, brothers and sisters. The Empire won't be satisfied until you live at work, clapped in irons, maximizing profits by minimizing your life!

And to you, nebulous and impersonal corporation, I'm hip to your tricks. And your tricks ain't for kids. So let's have an adult moment, shall we.

[Army and The Corporation sit at a table opposite one another, each with their hands folded and ankles crossed. The Corporation looks smug, but Army knows its weakness. Loss margins.]

Army: I beg that pixel of compassion in your metaphorical heart to show some reprieve. You've taken enough from us. We see you more than our families and friends. You have sapped enough souls and created enough disorders (and then profitted on us because of the mark-up on medications, thank you much). Show us your mercy.

The Corporation: ...That does not compute... Enter proper language codes... Invest in the talent pipeline... You cannot boil the ocean... Collateral target leveraging drives the bottom line...

I could not respond to its meaningless onslaught. My words were useless against The Corporation because it only understands the language of buzzwords. A language I took an oath never to utter again... but at what cost?

I'll get you next time, Gadget. Next time.

The Mind's Errand

The danger of a wish is it's fulfillment.

I saw "The Good Shepherd" this evening. It was an intense and confusing film, one that needs to be seen at least twice for it all to make sense. It touches on themes of trust, secrecy, truth, and loneliness. I found myself intrigued by each of these themes and how difficult it can be to make choices. Intelligence. Counterintelligence. Information. Misinformation. Friend. Enemy. The lines bleed together. The choices are never easy. Enemies become endearing because they know you like no one else can. They are your opposite number. Their choices mirror your own. All very fascinating.

A tiny little theme in the movie I took to came in a quote I hadn't heard before. It is from Ovid's Metamorphoses:

"...choose what you wish, and what you wish you shall have.” Pointing to a pile of dust, that had collected, I foolishly begged to have as many anniversaries of my birth, as were represented by the dust. But I forgot to ask that the years should be accompanied by youth.

Conquistadors searched America for the Fountain of Youth. Alchemists labored to create the panacea that would prolong life indefinitely. Even today, we have injections and plastic alterations to feverishly delay our aging. Since the time we have faced death, we have desired to outsmart it.

But who would, if by chance finding the genie in the bottle, tempted by the promise of long life, think to ask for those years in youth? And what would become of a person who aged to 200? Would we shrink into ourselves, unable to move, left to our thoughts? Is the fact that I frown at such a fate my own desire to resist the inevitably of aging? It's merely a fancy of mind, but one that captivated me nonetheless.

Can I muster up a lesson in this line of thought? Let's see... Think before you speak. Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes a nightmare is a dream come true.

Thinks 4.0

If you know me well, you've no doubt learned that I can't leave well enough alone when it comes to websites. After a while, I get this itch to update, upgrade, and generally improve on what I've created. It's actually quite helpful in learning HTML, CSS, and about widgets, which honestly confuse me more than diet caffiene free soft drinks.

Besides this site, I've created three different websites for various purposes at work. It can be quite frustrating at times when you can't get the code to work out, but once I crack the case, I feel an intense pleasure at figuring it out on my own. And I've become a bit more savvy with Dreamweaver and Photoshop, though I know I'm barely scratching the surface of the latter software.

Anywho, the fourth major iteration of These Are Me Thinks is up and running! I spent most of Friday evening fiddling around in Photoshop, working on a new banner format. I finally settled on what you see now. I always struggle with color combinations (even when it comes to matching my clothes each morning) and the end result lay in front of you. I'd like to hear some feedback.

Over the weekend, I'm making some tweaks to the code and reinstalling the rotating banner. I also hope to add a few more features that I will keep secret for now and reveal once they are up and running. And I hope now that the holidays have passed, I will be posting more regularly than I have been.

Share your thinks with me. If you read often and haven't commented before, now is your chance to tell me what's what!

Take care, all.

The Crew

I've been enjoying work very much lately, thanks to the addition of some hilarious jokester co-workers -- Watson and Toph. Watson is my new roomie since MamaBean left me for the sweet suite on the first floor of the House of Condemned Splinters. After a brief moment of seriousness (oh, it couldn't last for long), we fell into this step of bizarro humor that can best be described as askew.

Like we pretend to be really serious about something until one of us laughs. And we do it to this ridonkulous melodramatic level. We pretend to be offended by anything, like someone talking in the hall. Watson will say to me over the partition "Gosh, they don't have to scream at the top of their lungs." And I'll shoot back "They are always like that when their off their medication." It's so incredibly lame, it's funny!

Watson tripped a few times when we were walking on campus, and I accused her of being this histrionic belle who fakes accidents for the attention. We ran with that one for a while. We were talking about something once, and she bolted around the partition and said "if you ever say that again, I will slit your throat!" We're such dorks. I think I'm cheating on my Feyonce with another woman. Best keep this under wraps cuz she gets insanely jealous!

And I think my vocabulary is cancerous. Today Watson and I were getting soda-pops at The Mine and we were going on about something or other. Oh, we were talking about the giganti-soda for like, a nickel. And I said "Well if you haven't noticed, I'm trying to be a healthy purchase." LOL! What the fook does that mean?

And Ambiguously Straight Guy is mad jealous that I have an attractive young woman sharing my office. Of course, I'm not sure who he's jealous of... He's still giving me the mixed messages. When I told him about my new car, he didn't seem excited. I explained how much horsepower it had because I know he likes that kind of stuff. He says that's nothing and looks up his truck to show me how much more hp it has. So I'm all "I didn't realize this was a pissing contest." Last week, he invited me over to his place to watch Snakes on a Plane with him. Um, hidden meaning there? It's weird how I'm so put out by how un-complex and uncultured he can be, yet still find him (at times) quite smoochable that I want to pounce on him. Hhmm.

Which got me thinking... gay men have this way of bonding with straight women because we have no vested sexual interest in each other. But for me, it's more than that at times. I think it's easy to be myself and unfettered around friends (especially women) because nothing is at stake. In romantic scenarios, it's too easy to hold back because I don't want to show interest too soon. And there's the whole getting-to-know-you routine. If only I could parley that openness when it comes to potential romance... is that even possible without sending mixed messages of my own? Could it come off as interest when it isn't? It's worth investigating. I've got nothing to lose.

Well, I lost my writing steam, but there's plenty more to say about The Crew, including Toph, Advagounoush, MamaBean, Blurt McLoud, JP the British Boss, and the rest. I'll save it for a future installment.

iRant: Let's Get "Physical"

If you understand me even a smidge, you know that I have a profound love for solutions to problems that don't exist. I relish in items of ridiculous convenience. And sarcasm.

Well let's be honest, I wouldn't run a blog if I wasn't at least a modest purveyor of salt n' sass.

And my latest target is footwear. Just when you thought the Reebok Pumps were a joke (and yeah, they pretty much were or else they'd still be around), here come two contenders for stupid footwear schtick:

1) Running shoes with automatic lacing system

ANGLE: Because your lazy ass cannot bear to pull at each criss-crossed lace point, tie a simple knot, one bow, wrap around, second bow, and through the middle, you can twist a knob instead. This tying process is so quick and effortless that in order to type the sequence, I had to visualize each step mentally. That took way more effort than it does to actually do it. In the dark. In the morning when the demons kick the inside of my head, my brain is swimming in a morass, and the world is a dull distraction. Even then, I manage. But thanks to North Face, I can take one more thing for granted, save no time, and pay more money.

COUNTERPOINT: But Army, don't you hate it when your shoes come untied? I have a simple kindergarten fix -- the double knot. I still do it. It's completely juvenille. I basically never retie my shoes.

COUNTER-COUNTERPOINT: But Army, you are a lazy bum who doesn't run every day. In fact, you avoid physical exercise whenever possible.

REBUTTAL: Shut up, me! Who's side are you on anyway!?

POINT BEING: Continue to use your preschool level skills and lace it yourself.

2) Vacuum Shoes

ANGLE: I was alerted to this technological milestone by fellow blogger Robert. The concept is quite ingenious - strap a vacuum cleaner to your shoes and clean as you walk. Not only is it completley practical, it's a fashion statement waiting to happen.

I've used a few vacuums in my time that managed to suck ass, but not quite successfully suck dirt. I'm sure this cheap-as-crap shoe system will top of the line and do as good of a job as your bagless Hoover. Because you'll either be walking like you have two cement shoes on (due to the necessary suction) or, more likely, you'll manage to walk rather normally and essentially lightly dust your carpet. Wow.

TRAGIC FLAW: Allegedly, we are in a crisis state of wasting 90 hours per year vacuuming our floors. And this must end. But if we are making up all this free time, are we really going to use it walking around our homes? Or are we going to sit our lazy asses in front of A) the TV, or B) the computer?

COUNTERPOINT: But Army, you're sitting your lazy ass in front of the computer right now.

REBUTTAL: Sometimes I can't stand myself! However, I did vacuum the floor today, and sweep and mop... and yet I continue to live.

THEN AGAIN: As Robert pointed out to me --

"Get a several pairs and tell your house guests that they are special shoes just for them to wear while visiting. They'll do your cleaning without knowing it. Except they might get suspicious if you ask them to move the couch and walk behind it."

Perhaps the man has a point. If we could harness this stupid technology and use it for the powers of evil and manipulation, then, maybe then, it would have some worth...

BOTTOM LINE: I need to get into the industry so I can put forth some real concepts and ideas, courtesy of my Mental Manufactory!


Caution: This post may contain some Lost spoilers. If you aren't caught up with Season 3 (that means you, Advagounoush), you will want to avert your eyes from the humorous post below. This post was also assembled on the same line that handles peanuts and other nut-like products. Tread carefully.

After I purchased my sleek sexy new laptop computer with a 17" screen, it ended up not fitting into the old laptop case, as I had suspected. It was the classic rectangular peg into a square hole conundrum... or some such.

Back to CompUSA I travel for a new bag. Let me just say that this industry is a money-making scamfest of highwayrobbery and jackdaw theivery. These computer bags cost kooky mad skrilla! It's a bigger heistjob than computer cables! It's like the $20 CD scandal of the 90's. Serially, you guys.

Anway, as I'm doing my shopping with my good friend Cliff Bigtime, this salesguy comes over to chat us up. We're riffing about the prices and the cutsie computer totes with pink accents, etc. The Salesguy asks me if I'm using the new lappy for business purposes, and I said, yes actually. And he's all, how's about a jiggy lil biz discount? And I'm all, heckyes!

Somewhere along the way, I realize this guy is a spot-on ringer for this creepy character on the TV series, Lost. A slow tingle ran up my spine. I'm being helped by Henry Gale!!! I'm being helped by one of The Others!!!

Cliff can back me up on this (that is, if you actually knew him). He had the same eyes, facial features, and very similar hair. Okay, he didn't have the bruises and cuts, but I think I've solved one of the island's mysteries. Henry somehow escapes to Ohio (via a pneumatic air tube?) to work as a CompUSA Business Retail Manager. I took my business discount, never revealing to him that I was actually not an Other as he thought I was. But as Cliff put it, I don't want to be thrown in a cage and fed fish biscuits either.

I wish he would have asked me to enter "the numbers" on my credit card. Too bad my number doesn't contain 4815162342... (sigh)

And if you didn't understand a word of this post, just laugh because it's funny, and be genuinely creeped out by the creepiness of Henry Gale.