Friday, July 29, 2005


Your brain has a very important job. It creates order where there is chaos. I imagine in my brain there is a little version of me, almost as charming and handsome, sitting behind a very large desk in a corner office, making important life decisions while efficiently filing away the details of every exchange and interaction for future reference. To protect his identity, I'm just going to call him Little Me.

Little Me works very hard in the office of my mind, for very little thanks, and even less pay. But he gets a lot of sleep and free beer – so he’s good.

In addition to being a terrible thing to waste, the mind also happens to be a terribly busy place to work. Little Me sits in a big leather chair with a big red stamp pad, sifting through countless requests day after day…granting those most necessary, delaying those that can wait, sending on to committee those that require further consideration, and rejecting the rest in the blink of an eye. Little Me pushes a lot of paper in a day, but is not just a paper pusher. Little Me is the VP of Operations for Life Management Systems – he's the man behind the man.

Running the body’s business is a demanding job. The office of the mind receives endless requests from all over – the bladder office, the belly plant, and the bowel mine…just to name a few. And then there are all kinds of requests from other bodies to consider. I can only be in one place at one time, and someone has to make that very important call. Where to go, who to see, what to say, how to get there – it’s all got to go through Little Me.

Little Me is the primary contact on such important life decisions as: Do I buy this CD even though I’ve only heard one song? Do I eat this day-old sushi? Should I work out or take a nap? Is it too late to call? Am I done wiping? Where did I leave my keys? What’s that smell, is it me, and should I be concerned? How much more back hair is going to warrant a wax? How much should I tip?

On Little Me’s desk sits a massive stack of papers. Every new task is a memo sheet. Every new need is a purchase order. Every new introduction is a resume. Little Me efficiently files all of these papers without my even thinking about it. Sometimes the papers get mixed up – like when I mistake someone’s name. Sometimes they get lost – like when I forget a dentist appointment. And sometimes Little Me ends up with so many pieces of paper on his desk he gets overwhelmed and walks out on me. That’s usually when I proclaim something like “I’m losing my mind!” I’m not actually losing my mind – I’ve just lost control of it temporarily. When Little Me comes back after his ten minute smoke break, everything will be cool again. I just need to get by while Little Me is out of the office.

As you can see, Little Me has a big job. He calls the shots…even if the rest of me doesn’t always comply. Consider the situation in my pants. Every morning I wake up with a mature sequoia sprouting from my loins. Little Me has made it clear that he’s got nothing to do with that bodily function. That whole department, I’ve been told, has got a mind of its own.

I recently sent a memo to Little Me to let him know he’s doing a fantastic job. I also suggested a policy of using paper clips instead of staples. For as long as I can remember, Little Me has been using staples to keep things together. When he needs to place a face with a name, he staples them together. When he needs to file a restaurant, an address, a memory, and a newspaper review together, he staples them. Stapling effectively ensures that all of those pieces of information stay together for quick retrieval. But it’s hard to update your files when everything is stapled together. Paper clips, on the other hand, ensure pieces of information stay together with less permanence. That way you can add new information, and swap out the old for the new. It’s simply a better way of doing things.

I’ve already noticed my paper clip policy has been streamlining operations. Here’s an example. My belly used to send endless requests for food. Little Me would pull the file to review the list of approved vendors: tacos, pizza, potato chips, cheese sticks, nachos, bratwurst, patty melt, gyros, biscuits and gravy, and so on. A purchase order would then be completed, a transaction made, and the belly would receive a shipment of approved food. Everything in the Approved Foods file was stapled together, so Little Me was able to reference his options quickly.

What Little Me didn’t realize was how a single staple made him reluctant to update his file. Adding new vendors would have created mayhem in the Approved Foods file because all of the loose sheets would have defeated the purpose of stapling. It would have meant more work to sift through all of those papers, or to remove staples and re-staple the entire stack every time a new option was added. Since switching to paperclips, Little Me has been adding all sorts of healthier alternatives to the Approved Foods file: Boca Burgers, grapefruit, salad, fish, Sun Chips, etc. And not only is the Belly pleased, but so are the bowels, the heart, and the brain.

There are a lot of files in the office of the mind. And a lot of them contain a lot of papers – things I tell myself I need to “keep in mind.” Instead of stapling everything for order’s sake and becoming a rigid thinker, I’m now using binder clips to keep everything together. With binder clips, I’m free to experience new things. I can see other points of view. I can appreciate things I never noticed before. I can approach problems from a new angle. Staples had created bureaucracy – requests of the mind were processed reflexively for order and speed. Paper clips have opened up the mind to new possibilities.

Sometimes people will see me doing something out of the ordinary, like drinking tequila with a straw, and ask me, “Are you out of your mind?” I really don’t have an answer for them other than to say, “My VP of Operations for Life Management has ditched staples in favor of paper clips to afford me new experiences like this one.” That usually answers their question.

A lot of people like to think they know what’s best for me. And they’re not shy about letting me know. “Your socks don’t match – I hope you don’t mind me saying so.” Do I mind? I run that request by Little Me who is in charge of the mind. But Little Me is too preoccupied with finding a restroom (the result of an earlier decision to eat day-old sushi) to mind and has issued this memo: Mind your own fucking business. So I reply kindly, “No, I don’t mind at all. Thanks for letting me know.”

Do you have any idea who’s staffing the office of your mind right now? Little You? Little You is clearly taking a break if you are reading this. He or she has decided it’s time for a little light entertainment and is out back smoking dope with the cafeteria bus boys. Don’t be alarmed – Little You will be back shortly and you’ll be able to resume normal operations.

And that brings me, at long last, to my whole point. Every once in a while you need to give Little You an evaluation. I’m not talking about staples versus paper clips here. I’m talking about a performance review. Does Little You keep you fed, clothed, and rested? Are you otherwise generally satisfied and content? Has Little You been steering you in a positive direction? Are you happy? If so, then give your VP of Operations a raise. Keep Little You happy so you don’t end up losing your mind.

On the other hand, however, if you think Little You has been falling asleep on the job, making poor decisions, and taking you down a path toward ruin, then it may be time to consider bringing in a fresh perspective. Remember – you can ALWAYS change your mind.

Not me. I know he’s not perfect, but Little Me gets the job done. And he’s cheap. So I just signed him to a long-term contract. Hey - it's hard to find good help these days.

So I guess you could say I’ve made up my mind for good.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


I never thought it would happen to me. But it did. My friends, I’ve been living a lie for nearly a year now and can’t bear to keep this secret any longer.

I’ve felt ashamed to admit what I am about to reveal. Honestly, there have been days I couldn’t even bear to look at myself in the mirror. Disappointment only begins to describe how I feel right now. Disgusted is more like it. But I can no longer go on living this charade…pretending I am something I am not day after day. I hope you will still find it in your heart to love me for me, and to forgive me for misleading you for so long. Trust me – no one feels worse about this than I do. If anything, I need your support now more than ever.

It took a lot of time and some intensive counseling, but I’m finally starting to forgive myself. And it would mean the world if you would forgive me, too. So here it is. I admit it. I like Boca Burgers. Yes, you heard right. I actually enjoy the way they taste. I really like them…and worse, I’ve been eating them for months without telling anyone. MONTHS. I haven’t been able to look at beef and pork the same this whole time. I’m sorry, but it’s true.


What are Boca Burgers? You seriously did NOT just ask me that. You’re only asking to cover the fact that you’re already more than familiar with them, right? Come on. Boca Burgers?

We’ve ALL tried them before, if only to sate that rumbling curiosity deep inside our bellies: Will this healthy, meatless soy patty really taste like a “burger”? The answer, for those of you truly unfamiliar with the concept of a “Boca Burger,” is that they taste, surprisingly, close enough.

No, they don’t sizzle and bleed red all over the frying pan. And they don’t fatten up in the middle when they cook. They don’t spout tasty grease that runs down your chin and they don’t flood the neighborhood with the sweet smell of sirloin sweat dripping onto ashen charcoal briquettes when you fire them up on the grill.

But they DO resemble the consistency and flavor well enough that you can make a meal out of them. Yes, even when you’re sober. And because they’re made of soy, they’re actually GOOD for you. Maybe I’m just rationalizing here, but I think you’d enjoy them. Have you tried them lately? They’re not what they once were. They’re good now. Really. What's more, a Boca Burger has fewer calories, far less fat, more fiber, and nearly as much protein as a beef burger. And they're cholesterol free (depending on the flavor you choose).

Anyhow – I’m truly sorry for having kept this from you all for so long. I’m just glad to finally get it out. No more secrets. Life is so much easier this way. Oh wait. Okay – one more secret. I shower in a swimsuit because I don’t like the way I look naked. But that's it. No more secrets.

[Click on the header for more info]

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


I was reading an article about Producer David E. Kelley, the man behind such television hits as L.A. Law, The Practice, Ally McBeal, and most recently, Boston Legal. He said that when he worked on L.A. Law, there were 48 minutes of show and just 12 minutes of commercials. Today there are a little more than 41 minutes of show and nearly 19 minutes of commercials! I bet you didn’t even notice how much more of your time and attention has been turned over to the ware-hawking pimps of corporate America. I must admit, I didn’t notice. I imagine they did it slowly over the years – like that guy at your party who imperceptibly inches up the volume on your stereo so slowly you don’t even notice it’s even getting louder until the neighbors start banging broom handles against the wall.

Kelley went on to say the decrease in show time makes it tougher to tell character-driven and emotional stories. No wonder TV sucks! Fantasy Island and ChiPs had 15% more time to tell their stories. Today, hour-long television dramas follow a five-act structure that typically allows for eight minutes of storytelling between commercial breaks. So a show today might look something like this: 2-8-4-8-4-8-4-8-4-8-2. And because these structures have become standard, you can’t even channel surf anymore. Every station takes a commercial break at the same time! It’s a conspiracy, and I don’t like it. Especially considering I pay a shitload of money to my cable company every month.

I thought the whole point to PAYING for cable was so the content was paid for by ME and not advertisers. I understand why NBC has commercials – it’s a “free” station that can be accessed by anyone with a pair of knitting needles and some tin foil. They NEED corporate-sponsored programming to stay in business. But you can’t get ESPN unless you PAY for it through your cable company. So if you’re paying for it, why are there still commercials? I smell a segment for the evening news: “The Fleecing of America – how cable companies are double-dipping their way to huge profits.”

Where is all of my cable money going if not into the programming? It’s not going into the service, that’s for certain. My cable cuts out once a month because of something called “solar flares.” It usually happens without warning, and in the bottom of the ninth inning. And the last time my cable MODEM went down, they told me it would be almost two weeks before someone could come out and check the line. Try going without your Internet connection for two days, let alone two weeks. No can do. I think I’d do better without running water for two days than access to the web.

If a portion of my cable contribution each month is fed back to the cable networks, to subsidize the revenue they glean from advertisers, then shouldn't I expect an improvement in the quality of the programming? More money means more to watch, right? I feel someone should be paying ME to watch half the crap on television these days, starting with anything original on USA.

Remember ONTV? It was a pay service that required a descrambler device. There were no commercials with ONTV. Television was free and paid for by sponsors, while ONTV was commercial-free because programming was paid for by you. Not these days. These days we all pay to sit through commercials. What's the deal with that?

Back in college, the roommates and I pooled our cash and bucked up for cable. It provided better reception and a wider selection of channels for a nominal fee of somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 a month. Of course, taxes and fees brought the bill closer to $18, but that’s life in the nickel-and-dime age. Even then, I remember most of the cable channels had commercials, but I didn’t mind so much because I was only shelling out $10 a month. And that was worth it to be able to get re-runs of Cheers at three different times every single day of the week.

Today, the cost of cable is nearly five times what it was just a short time ago – and what do we get for it? Five times more channels, most of them offering crap programming than you will never watch, and all of them with commercial advertisements. If you want to watch movies without interruptions, you have to order the “pay” channels. But technically, and presuming you're not stealing cable from your neighbor, aren't ALL cable channels pay channels? So HBO and Showtime are really “pay MORE” channels.

I recently programmed my television to skip the channels I don’t watch because I was sick of wading through cartoons and gardening expos and home shop-a-thons. I now have my list narrowed down to around 20 channels. I figure if I can’t find something to watch on 20 channels, I've got a problem access to 200 more channels isn’t going to solve.

Today there’s the Dish network, and TiVo, and pay-per-view movies. It’s all too much to consider! Do I get a dish? Do I have the right exposure to even own one? What if I move? How much is it really (after the attractive promotional offer ends)? Will I get local channels? How much more of my free time do I need to hand over to my television for TiVo to make sense? How can I justify increasing the size of my already inflated cable bill by buying movies on-demand? Aren’t I better off joining Netflix or something? Isn’t there more to life than what’s on TV?

But now I’m guilty of digression…

All I really wanted to say is that I don't like the idea of paying to watch commercials.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


North Korea announced this week that it was in favor of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

The surprising declaration, made by North Korea’s envoy to international disarmament talks, initially eased tensions in the region…until an interpreter explained that by “free,” they meant “available at no cost.”

Did you know that one of out every three North Koreans is chronically malnourished? True stat. In fact, recent U.N. reports say people over there are foraging for acorns, grass, and seaweed just to get something in their bellies. It's not pretty. And here I complain when there's nothing good on television. Worse is the fact that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Ment Lee-IL has been threatening the development of nuclear weapons that would discourage the United States from invading, even while the U.S. says it has no interest in invading that oil-barren wasteland. They've been playing a diplomatic game of cat and mouse for some time. Will it end with a bang...or a whimper?


Do you ever spontaneously burst into singing the theme song from the Love Boat? ...exciting and new...come aboard...we're expecting you! I mean, like on an empty elevator - or in your car during an annoying commercial you've heard 20 times already. Or maybe as you're stepping into the shower it strikes you like a crowbar on the back of the head. ...set a course for adventure... Do you ever let rip into that old TV classic while you're vacuuming or scrubbing the dishes? ...soon we'll be making another run... It's just so damn catchy you can't help but belt out the lyrics loud and proud every time, just like it's the first and only time. *sigh*

So - do you? Yeah. Neither do I.


Lance Armstrong concluded one of the greatest sports careers of all time in Paris on Sunday with an unprecedented 7th Tour de France victory. But according to France’s AFP wire, many suspicions remain regarding the possible use of banned substances in his rise to Cycling’s pinnacle. As a result, French officials have declined repeated international requests to consider renaming the event Tour de Lance. (Looks like I've wasted a lot of stamps!)

What has made Armstrong’s domination even more remarkable, in case you’ve been living in a cave for the past decade, is the fact that his string of unlikely victories began just 18 months after he recovered from testicular cancer. That’s what makes his entire story so nuts, if you’ll forgive the pun.

Despite the skepticism of some, however, Armstrong has never tested positive for illegal substances. Yet, rather than admit he might actually be a skilled and proficient athlete, many people prefer clinging to the belief his return was aided by a foreign substance of some kind. I hate to dismiss these suspicions out of hand, so I have been allowing for the possibility that Lance may have plagued by a rare, performance-enhancing cancer that, in addition to destroying healthy cells and disrupting the normal function of organs throughout the body, works to improve the muscular and respiratory facilities that are key to cycling. (I Googled it yesterday and I think it's called Cycloma)

Anyhow, I’m sure Lance would like nothing other than to prove he’s been clean all these years, if for no other reason than to force his detractors to eat crow – and I don't mean Sheryl.

Monday, July 25, 2005



I was just doing a little math in my head and think I may be onto something.

American pop-tart Madonna reported in the August edition of Vogue magazine that she’s in love with English life and intends to stay there. According to the Material Girl:

“The last thing I thought I would do is marry some laddish, shooting, pub going nature lover – and the last thing he thought he was going to do was marry some cheeky girl from the Midwest who doesn’t take no for an answer. But now I love England and want to be here and not in America. I see England as my home.”

Soon after the widespread publication of this declaration, a series of poweful explosives rocked London’s transit system, killing 56 people. Now - it may only be a coincidence - but I suspect SOMEONE doesn't want her over there! A proud nationalist, perhaps, declaring Jihadonna?

Just a thought.

Oh's time for my medication.


Here's a fun one for you. Very addictive. The computer lets you move first every time - which you'd think would be an advantage. But your advantage is quickly eclipsed by the computer's advantage: the fact that the computer is a computer and you are a simple-minded, carbon-based sentient being.

That said, it IS possible to win. I've only managed it twice in nearly 20 times for a conversion of just over 10%. I'm sure there's a pattern...I'm just too lazy to figure it out. Enjoy!

Click header to play.