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MARCH 1ST, 2017: Today is Ash Wednesday. I'm not Catholic, but why not give something up for Lent?
It was pretty obvious what I should give up. Every morning I stop at 7-11 and buy a 2 pack of giant cookies and immediately eat them. They have Oatmeal, Chocolate Chunk, and my favorite - M&M. I'm very embarassed by this and I don't tell anyone about my bad habit. So I'm giving that up for Lent.
I follow Garfield on Twitter and today he released a new app called "Garfield Fit" which is like a pedometer app. I figure if that fat feline can get in shape, why can't I? Me and Garfield are doing it together. I downloaded the app, I've cut out the cookies, and I'm gonna change my life for the better.
AUGUST 21ST, 2015: Giving people an "I VOTED" sticker after they vote should be illegal.
It's currently illegal to pay someone to vote in most states. In some places it's legal - for instance, in 1999 the Democratic Party was criticized for offering a free chicken dinner to people who voted. Now an "I VOTED" sticker isn't the same as dinner, but in some small way it is an incentive.
The "I VOTED" sticker has become cool. While you're not paying someone to vote, handing them a sticker is in a small way giving them social currency. On voting day, my social network feeds are flooded with people posting photos of their stickers. People are walking around proudly wearing them. Many businesses now will even give you a discount or a freebie for wearing the sticker. The sticker carries some value, however small, and giving something of value in exchange for a vote should be illegal.
(First in a series of poorly thought out opinions.)
AUGUST 13TH, 2015: I've done things I'm not proud of.
I used to work for a huge, faceless corporation. It was awful - the complex was huge rooms of cubicles as far as you could see. The walls, carpet and ceiling were gray. The desks and chairs were gray. Gray everywhere. Over time this really started to get to me.
Once and a while the CEO of the company would fly in from one of the identical gray boxes in some other state and speak to us. The meetings weren't mandatory, but they enticed you to go with free donuts and juice.
One morning I walked down to the large meeting area to hear the CEO, but there was no food or juice. The CEO got up in front of us and said "You may have noticed there's no donuts today. We need to start tightening our belts."
He went on to tell us about the billions in profits we made this year. He started yelling at us, saying it was not good enough. That even though we were profitable, we were not making as much as other companies in our industry. We had to start cutting back immediatly, and that started with the donuts.
Over the next week, I started to see the little luxuries that we had in our gray boxes slowly be taken away. The swizzle sticks for our coffee. The complimentary tea bags. The dish soap I used to wash my coffee mug. All because the billions we made weren't enough.
Taking away our little kitchen products was an act of war in my eyes. It was not going to really affect the bottom line, it was not going to add more of billions on top of our billions. It was to send a message.
I decided to fight back in the small way I could, with the same weapons. It would not affect the bottom line - in fact, I doubt anyone would ever even notice. But it made me feel good for a moment. In every bathroom, there was a shelf of toilet paper above the toilets. Every time I would go in the bathroom, I'd take one or two of the new rolls of toilet paper and throw them out.
War is hell.
AUGUST 8TH, 2015: One of my favorite weekend pastimes is going to estate sales. Most of the reason I go is to find vintage and antique items, but part of the fun is going to rich neighborhoods and going through the huge houses. Yesterday we went to a huge 5,000 sq ft house. Now, usually estate sales are held to sell off the worldly possessions of a deceased person. Sometimes though they're held when a person hasn't died, but needs to quickly liquidate all their stuff. That was the case in this large house.
One of the ladies running it said it was a doctor that owned the house and was “downsizing”. The thing that struck me the most though was the owners didn't seem to go through any of their stuff. There was numerous sentimental items – the most prominent was a large painting of their children that hung above the fireplace. The item that made me the most sad was a homemade “Happy Mother's Day” card by Michael, age 8. Yes, these both were for sale, along with a bunch of the children's artwork. I know I can be overly sentimental, but it's just strange that someone would leave that stuff behind, let alone trying to sell it.
I hope everyone in that family is ok. It's a strange thing trying to figure out a person by their left-behind possessions.
AUGUST 6TH, 2015: Recently my sister and I were talking about the polar bear exhibit at the Detroit Zoo. It's a huge state-of-the-art exhibit named “The Arctic Ring of Life” that opened about 15 years ago. “What was in that spot before the polar bear exhibit?” she asked. We couldn't remember. We started asking around – everyone had a different answer. “The lions were there!” said one person, “it was still the polar bears, just in a smaller space” said another. I asked on social media – different answers from everybody. Did anyone know?
I set off to Google. There was very little information. I used my wife's University research account to search old news articles about the zoo. I emailed the zoo itself. I posted on the “Zoo Chat” forums.
Soon I found an old map of the zoo from 1947 on the Internet. In that spot was a lake - “Clover Leaf Lake”. I Googled some more. There was very little information on Clover Leaf Lake, save for an old postcard. Was this lake still around in the late 1990s? In my searching, I discovered the existence of a book on the history of the Detroit Zoo. There was a copy at a local college by my house. I set off to find it.
I located the book down a dark aisle-way on the second floor of the college library. I found two more maps in the book, both showing Clover Leaf Lake in that spot. But nothing newer than the 1960s. A few days went by, and one of my leads paid off – an email from the Detroit Zoo itself!
Thank you for your email. Glad you had a great time at Memberfest! As for the area pre-ARL: it was a lake.
See you at the Zoo!
The answer was as I suspected – Clover Leaf Lake survived into the 90s! But instead of being happy, all I can think of was “wow, I wasted a lot of time on that.”
AUGUST 5TH, 2015: I recently quit my 16 year IT career to go work in my family's furniture store. We decorate the tables there with different centerpieces, and we decided to put out a Scrabble set as a decoration. It's staged, with a bunch of furniture words on the board - for instance: FURNITURE. One of the jobs I've taken upon myself is to check the board every day to make sure no one has rearranged the letters into a dirty word. Well, today it happened. Someone spelled out "WOODY". Not on my watch, compadre, not on my watch.