Monday, June 30, 2008

The Apple Genius

The word "genius" is thrown around a little too willie-nillie, diminishing any real value behind it. I use the term a bit much myself. Usually in reference to a new Wilco album or Sophia Coppola film when it fact, these pop culture passers-by hardly compare to the life-altering contributions brought to us by Da Vinci, Einstein or Galileo.

But even in my most egregious hyperbole, I don't suck the meaning out of this word quite like the Apple corporation does with their hugely over-promising "Genius Bar."

The over-stylized punk who leans up to you from the
Apple store counter, with his smug sense of self-importance, seems to have neither graduated from high school nor realize that before phones and MP3 players, Apple actually made computers. But hey. We're dealing with geniuses here.

Recently I took a 9-month old lap-top in to have the plastic casing replaced since it's been stripping away on the sides. And it's only 9 months old. Which is fucking ridiculous (but that's another issue).

On each of my three visits to the store to get this repair underway
(genius), I noticed the work order they wanted me to sign listed an old address of mine from an entirely different city and the corresponding phone number. I alerted the geniuses to this problem on my previous two visits and was assured that they would correct that, no problem.

When it came time for me to actually turn over my $1500 computer for repair, the address and number were still listed incorrectly. I pointed it out to the young, female genius, who took it over to her genius manager. After a few minutes of genius conferencing, she returned to report that this group of geniuses could not make the changes at the store and I would have to call Apple Care to update that information.

I took a moment to look around and reflect.

I was
surrounded by at least 30 computers in a retail environment that sells machines designed to create, store and distribute information, all of which were connected to the Internet. And, lest we not forget, three of these computers were manned by self-proclaimed geniuses.

I've never left a sweater at a dry-cleaners without the store proprietor, usually an old Chinese man who doesn't speak a lick of English, taking an accurate address. I've rarely made a dinner reservation without the host taking a current phone number. These aren't computer companies. And they're not staffed with geniuses. Just your average, everyday morons. And somehow, in their charmingly inferior minded way, they developed a system that allows them to take current contact information.

I explained this to the team of Apple geniuses and got an unwelcome, albeit genius, response: "Sorry, dude, that's how our system works - just call Apple Care."

Before I could grab my laptop and shove it down the throat of this pretentious faux-hawked genius before me, an unassuming techie emerged from the back. He heard about the guy in front freaking out about an address correction (me) and was in the back making the necessary adjustments. Seems it was really no problem at all. You just enter the correct information into the computer.

Luckily, Apple makes a pretty good product that you don't have to be a genius to figure out. And even more luckily, I wasn't there to solve any software issues. God help me if anything goes wrong with my OS - I'm pretty sure Apple geniuses think that's an acronym for "Old School."

And while he's no Picasso, I think there's something just a little bit genius, or at least clever and insightful about Mike Judge's take on the degradation of human intellect.

Take notes, Apple Geniuses. The future is yours.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Poo Lady Cometh

I am a married man with a 2-year-old daughter and a full time job. There are very few moments in my life that are exclusively and unequivocally mine.

Sad as this may be, those moments typically occur behind a stainless steel, institutional type door, sometimes with a half naked man only inches away.
Nonetheless, I savor these moments.

When I feel a moment like this coming on, usually about an hour and a half after my first cup of coffee, I prepare some light reading material - the sports guy’s column off of, or, if I’ve already read it, whatever I can find on Slate. And just so that no one in the office asks why I’m printing online magazines, rather than reading them straight from the screen, I cut and paste the content into a word document so it appears as if I’m simply reviewing my own hard work (any coworkers reading this should know that I use the black and white printer and reduce the font size to 9 pt. so as to keep the whole article under three pages. And I’m a pretty fast reader so we’re only talking 6-7 minutes total). I then sneak said article into my pocket so the receptionist, who I pass with every trip, won’t notice me carrying papers into the can.

This is all very premeditated and has become a natural part of my daily routine. Don’t take that away from me.

But for whatever reason, the building in which I work has hired a female custodian to clean the men’s bathrooms. I like a clean bathroom as much as the next guy, and frankly, I don’t care who cleans it. It seems to me that if a woman is going to be cleaning a men’s room and doesn’t want to be exposed to the inherent maleness that exists in there, they should take care of their custodial duties after hours.

Yet, every day, just as I reach that critical point of the article, where Dana Stevens explains to me why any guy who bashes Sex in the City, The Movie must be a misogynist wife-beater, or as Bill Simmons waxes poetic on the similarities between Red Sox Nation and the chosen people, in walks the Poo Lady.

Every fucking day. Regardless of the time.

She knocks first. But she enters as she knocks. And the only thing you can blurt out fast enough to avoid through-the-stall confrontation is a castrated sounding “I’m in here!”

She promptly retreats, but the damage is done. You know she’s out there. Just waiting to disinfect the foulness I’m in here creating. And she’s no more happy about it than I am.

No more Dana Stevens. No more sacred moment to myself. It’s just finish up and get out.
And if all that weren’t enough, now I have to walk out past this woman and suffer the indignity of giving her my post-crap “all clear in there” thumbs up.

Maybe next time I’ll just let her come in and we’ll both go about our respective businesses.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lefty and John McCain are now friends

I received a new friend request this morning (the friend followed all the rules from my previous post and I'm happy to have received it), but as I responded, it all became very clear what's going on here.

Facebook is the GOP's vehicle to take control of our minds and in one fell swoop - or poke as the case may be - program all the facebook friends to vote for John McCain. Yes, yes, I know there's Obama propoganda everywhere you look on the social networking site, but hear me out.

The right wing media moguls (not naming names. Rupert Murdoch.), put out this milk toast site that somehow, no one can resist. We check in daily to find out who's friends with who and watch precocious little bastard children playing guitar on our funwalls. And when we least expect it, say around October 28, a transmission goes out across the network and quietly enters into all of our subconscious.

We don't notice it. We hardly even talk about it. But somehow, come Super Tuesday, John McCain doesn't seem like such a bad option after all. I mean, he's not Bush, right? Bush is from Texas. This guy's from Arizona. And Arizona is cool. They have Sedona. And he's a war hero, so he knows how to kick some ass. Except for that time he was a P.O.W., at which point he probably got his ass kicked pretty bad. But that just shows the guy can take some licks.

I'm not endorsing McCain. Now.
I'm just saying, when you're in that polling booth and a swarthy man with white hair, who's rhetoric could single-handily put Lunestra out of business seems like the right choice, but you're not sure why, just remember. Facebook.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Who the F- are you?

Yes, we all hate the phenomenon of Facebook. And no, I don't use the word phenomenon lightly. I know you kids have been hip to this shit for the past 6 years or so, but seriously, what happened 12 months ago that made it a mandatory for anyone under the age of 60 to have a page, much less a widget, fun-wall and all the other crap that comes with social networking 2.0? It's like some Borg that came out of nowhere with its brain-sucking virus and took complete control of all of our remaining dignity. But that's not why we hate it. The real reason we all hate it, is because it no longer belongs to the young, cool kids. It's everyone's now.

And yet, without a facebook page you are a social and professional leper, quickly fading off into obscurity. I went and drank from the FB cooler and like everyone else, I find myself checking up on old friends, in almost compulsive, stalker-like fashion. I realized the other night that this site had transcended critical mass when one of my closest friends, who lives a scant 4 blocks away, told me he had a link he wanted me to check out later, and while I looked over his shoulder, he sent it to me via our facebook's accounts. How that's easier than good old fashioned email, I still can't comprehend, but apparently, this is now the norm.

So here we all are, all of us, linked together by a pretty rudimentary online interface. There's only like 3 degrees of separation between most of us and with enough friend searches, you soon find that we're all part of this big, happy incestuous popularity contest. But with anything of this magnitude, I believe in some ground rules:

#1. When you contact that old bud you haven't seen in over 10 years, remind us who the fuck you are.

I'm not saying I'm so popular I can't keep track of the many friends I've had over the years (I'm up to 185 at the moment), but if you got married and are no longer Betty Maiden Name, chances are, I've not followed your life so closely that I'm privy to you and your husband's shared surname.

It's pretty simple - when you send a friend request to someone you knew before you changed your name, sex, appearance, etc., drop a short note explaining as much. I'll probably accept your friend request either way, because I'm very shallow and feel the number of friends I have speaks to the kind of person I am. And if I don't accept your friend request, or I tell you I don't recall anyone by the name of Betty Married Name, then all of the sudden I'm the prick who got too big for his britches. I
f the point is to reconnect, just tell me who you are. Which takes me to ground rule number 2.

#2. If we've never met before, and I wouldn't know you even if you did introduce yourself via Facebook, do we really need to be Facebook friends? Yes, I know I said I want as many friends as I can get, but aren't there better ways to introduce ourselves whether for professional or for personal reasons? Otherwise, the future of our relationship will be reduced to something akin to what I have with the other 180 people with whom I have nothing left to say post-"How you been?".

#3. Just because someone posted a heartwarming video on your page about a kitten that was rescued from near death, and there's a forward button at the bottom, use some discretion as to where that forward goes. We may be Facebook friends, but I hate kittens and I hate heartwarming stories. I will delete 99% of your silly little videos from my page almost immediately and I don't want to feel like you're checking up on me to see if I still have it proudly displayed.

#4. (And lastly for now) Facebook has this great little tool that tells me when it's one of my friends' birthdays. Keep in mind, this is the same friend I haven't spoken to since 1989 and probably won't speak to again anytime soon. But I feel guilty that they know that I know it's their birthday and I'm not wishing them a good one. So just for the record, unless we've wished each other a happy birthday in the last few years, please do not take the time to wish me one. I'm good.

I'm sure I will have lots to add to this list of Facebook faux pas-s, but for now, please, just tell me who the fuck you are.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Pox in Socks

Perhaps I deserved it. Maybe it was those bearded ladies who wished this upon me (I never considered the fact that they might be witches, or that they'd even know my lambaste against them existed, but it just goes to show, you can't underestimate the will of a woman who carefully grooms out her facial follicles.)

Then again, it may have just been that I have a 2-year-old who picks up these filthy little diseases in her daily routine of being a 2-year-old, and this particular virus, which only crops up in May and November, can only be spread through feces when there are no visible blisters, and the sweet little angel of mine decided to crap in the tub
, something she hasn't done since she was two weeks old, during her most contagious state, unbeknownst to my wife and I because her only symptom was a short-lived fever.

Or it could have been the bearded witches. F- them, anyway.

Whatever the cause, I was stricken last week with hand, foot and mouth disease.

For the uninitiated, there was no livestock involved - this is not hoof and mouth disease. It's totally different. Well, the "mouth" and the "disease" part are the same, but otherwise, totally different.

It all began a good week after my daughter had spent a few hours just slightly off her game. My wife and I both felt like shit on a Thursday night, crawled into bed around 9pm and didn't wake up 'til 10 the next morning. I dragged my flu-feeling ass into work, but complained to anyone who would stand close enough to listen and scooted out early.

The next night, my wife said that swallowing felt like daggers going down her throat. Now I'm no doctor, but I looked at her throat, and unless daggers look like little blistery white sores all over her tongue, these were no daggers.

As my wife is prone to do, she went to the Internet for a diagnosis. The conclusion: tongue cancer. It just so happened that I discovered red sores near my big toe around the same time and I thought I had a bad case of athlete's foot. Neither the tongue cancer nor the athlete's foot seemed too related to our mutual fevers just 24 hours earlier, but the dueling diagnoses seemed right at the moment and we went to sleep.

The next day, a Sunday, I was working at a remote location with about five people from my office and an extra 20-30 people I had never met before. Before my very eyes, about 30 blisters popped up across my hands. With no cell coverage and no Internet access and a bunch of folks who probably didn't want to know that someone in their vicinity had blisters inexplicably popping up all over their hands, I came to the conclusion that I must have the dreaded hand, foot and mouth disease I had only just heard about last November when the toddler circuit spread it last.

The athlete's feet I noticed the night before was now consuming my thoughts, with the feeling spreading across all my toes, but well disguised in both socks and shoes. The only thing that took my mind off them were the blisters that continued to surface on my palms in plain view of anyone looking. As the day concluded, several handshakes were offered up to me, and not wanting to explain my predicament, I simply accepted and silently wished them the best.

That night, my wife and I practiced medicine some more by searching HF&M online. Seems we had a textbook case (all except for the part about not being kids) and we were politely asked by everyone we knew to stay home until all signs passed.

It was a long week of feeling perfectly fine, but being so contagious we were quarantined to our own little family of filth. The blisters did not go away gradually and I soon wondered, would these be with me forever. I love my family, but I was worried I wouldn't last alone with them for much longer.

And then they all just disappeared. Except for the two big ones (one pictured above). Those popped and scabbed over, just like the Internet told us they would. So here I am, back at work and feeling perfectly hand, foot and mouth free.

Anyone want to share a soda?