Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Blithe minds frolic

Even in our darkest hours’ past, America was always a leader unflinching, resolute, and wise, a beacon to the world. But a new era looms, one without America’s stamp of approval. A shift threatens all remnants of the good will and camaraderie for which patient Americans have toiled.

Why? Why has this nation fallen to this place that now endangers the American experiment?

Confident in their superiority, Americans take their perennial standing among the world’s peoples for granted. We disregard our fortune. We misunderstand even our own legacies. We fail to ponder our place. We just assume.

A sensible nation is a humble one and retains its power. Land of the free, home of the brave is witness to an irony. Arrogance, misguided and carefree, will snatch from us the very thing that has filled us with obstinacy, bluster, and false pride. Prudence knocks at the powerful American’s door. It implores for deference in leadership and respect for strength, but no one answers.

So many of us don't care. So many others care only about us. Spoiled, blithe minds frolic in the vestiges of America’s swan song.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

How many of us will behave?

The modern world's myriad technologies at once fascinate our senses and invite abuse. Look at how badly many of us behave with our toys and freedoms when we don't respect them.

Examples of good behavior teach us how to avoid the bad. Consider the German Autobahn. Years ago, men at once struggled and craved to maintain 100-mile-per-hour speeds over long distances. Without breaking a sweat, Germans now drive like this all the time.

A learned respect for the task at hand never leaves our European friends' minds. Germans must undergo rigorous training before they can obtain their driver’s licenses from the state and operate vehicles far superior to early 20th century men’s contraptions.

Technology can have a positive impact on a society when people decide to teach themselves respect. In the case of the Germans, high-speed travel becomes palatable, but their Autobahn exemplifies the possibilities of a notion that applies to just about anything: Promote good behavior by teaching people to respect daunting yet exciting things.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Remember: It is mid-March 2004

Conversation between yours truly and his cubicle neighbor:

"Ryan!" I called out to my cubicle neighbor.

"Yeah?" Ryan responded.

"I know we haven't had any holidays yet this year, but did the 2004 Holiday Schedule ever come out?" I asked. "I'm wondering when our first day off is."

"They sent it through e-mail a few months ago," Ryan answered. "You must have missed it. Anyway, we still only get eight days of official company holidays, so you aren't missing much."

Ryan likes to be sarcastic like that. I do, too.

"Oh," I said. "Well, that's a relief. For a minute there, I was afraid the powers that be had decided to take their own philosophy to its logical conclusion and cancel holidays altogether."

The time I tried to be Shakespeare on e-mail

E-mail sent to my fellow professor friend and his friend, a new friend of mine:

Hello, Dr. Evil and Dr. Evil's Evil Twin --

I have been busy today at the office building, assembly line for the white collar proletariat. The luxury of time, that prerequisite that sets the stage for the drafting and sending of witty e-mails, has eluded me since the morning's wee hours.

But now, in the ephemeral elapse of an instant's time -- no thematic development intended -- all has changed. I take stock in the marketing proposal progress made and say, "This is boring to do."

Monotony exacts its toll, friends. The nebulous modus operandi of my superior annoy me to no end. Her invariably vague suggestions collude with an approach drenched in micromanagement. It boggles the mind and encourages me to cease work a full hour and a half in advance of official quitting time. To wit:

Right now, I am not working. Ambition once accompanied me but has now fled. It displays a caprice of equal opportunity that cares not whether work needs finishing. Indolence knows no bounds.

How to remain upbeat at work
The other day, a good friend e-mailed me, sage of the modern workplace, for advice.
Good friend types:
How do you remain upbeat at work? Need advice.
Yours truly replies:
Every few hours, I take a jaunt to my car. In my glove box resides a baggy of white powder, which I retrieve and open. Employing a mirror and box cutter, I spread out a couple lines of this powder and sniff.
The prepared dust enters my nasal passageways and permeates adjacent membranes. Powerful chemicals quickly proliferate my body’s bio systems to produce feelings of euphoria and give me limitless energy.
Lately, it's been taking more and more powder to do the job to help me do my job. Soon my salary will not support the habit. If my boss wants me to keep doing a good job, she'll give me a raise.
OK...later…gotta run to my car now...

God loves the '70s guitar gods

Stoic to everything else, I stood equidistant from the surround-sound stereo system's four speakers. Jeff Beck's 1975 masterpiece, "Blow By Blow," emitted layer upon layer of audio. His guitar spoke of joy.

Epiphany upon epiphany of an artist's brilliance entered my mind. They spoke of gifts. "Behold what this child of God has given us," they waxed. "Praise God for these gifts of joy. God loves the ‘70s guitar gods."

The AAA mooch

If you count Friday evenings, weekends offer a good 60 hours free from human interaction. I like to use this time wisely. That's why I didn't take my friend Melissa's call as I saw her name pop up on my cell phone display Saturday afternoon.

True to aloof form, I would never have gotten back to her until later this week had the novelty of her call worn off sooner. Melissa never calls me on the weekend. Later that afternoon, as I searched the local CD store for Jeff Beck's 1975 masterpiece, "Blow By Blow," my curiosity gave way to investigation. I relented and called Melissa back.

"What's up?" I asked.

"Oh, yeah...ha ha ha!" she replied, mischievously. "I locked myself out of my car earlier."

"Ha, ha, ha. Loser!" I said.

"Yeah, I know. Anyway, Danielle wasn't home. I was desperate to get into my car, and you were the next person I thought of."

"Nice," I replied with a trademarked sarcasm.

"I was trying to see if there was some way I could use your AAA card to call them up," she strained to explain herself. "Then you didn't answer, but I was able to figure something else out."

"You're a friggin' AAA mooch!" You see, I have AAA. Melissa does not. A pause preceded her reply as she pondered what I had just said.

"Oh yeah, now I get it," she responded. "That's funny!" Her amusement was genuine.

We traded some small talk and then hung up. I spotted the likeness of a frail '70s guitar god dressed in bell bottoms. Jeff Beck's image was adorning the cover of a CD jewel case propped up on the rack. The title read: Blow By Blow. I grabbed the last used copy, sprinted for the cashier, paid the $7, and drove home.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Sub par bananas

Sometimes a banana is bruised on the inside even when its peel reveals nothing awry. In this way, the monkey’s favorite fruit is much like a book. You cannot judge the thing by the cover and, once you’ve purchased and opened a sub par banana to enjoy the contents, it is too late for recourse.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

The Gulf of Tonka Trucks Resolution

"What? Did you say, 'The Gulf of Tonka Trucks Resolution'? What the hell is that?"

So goes the young voter’s understanding of the Vietnam War -- uh...I mean, "conflict" -- and its perennial antagonists, the Peace Generation and its ex-hippie emissaries. College Republicans, the one-time misnomers who now overpopulate universities across the country, don’t listen to Crosby, Stills & Nash or peaceniks. In Jane Fonda's own backyard, droves of young people now fall for Karl Rove’s Siren Song.