[big gap until October]
Sorry that I didn't keep my pledge of posting monthly, I just had nothing particularly informative or ironic to say (beside the everyday stupidities which have shown up on Everyday Stupidities). However, one week ago I went to my twenty year high school reunion, and that does bear sharing. Summing up before I start: It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I've emphasized since I found out about the reunion that I didn't know what to expect and didn't want to allow myself to create any expectations. I think it worked out for me. Much of this entry won't mean much to you because you don't know the people, but this shouldn't matter.
I left for my reunion on Saturday morning. I had been out taking photographs of the landscape all day and decided since I was already in the immediate area (I drove a couple miles past the country club to visit Toppenish Range) that I might as well show up about an hour before the scheduled start time, if there was anything needing to be done and to see the early arrivals. There weren't any early arrivals beside Janine, who was trying to untangle the bunch of two dozen balloons she'd brought for the tables, and after a few minutes Lori came in to get things set up. Janine had always been the abrasive one in school, but time has mellowed her a bit. Lori always knew better than to turn her back on me, and as I recall graduated at a different school, but she's always been faithful to her real alma mater and has been nice to me at the reunions. (I'll be sending a disk of photos to her shortly.) The meet-n-greet was to start at 6:00 p.m. but people apparently chose to be fashionably late. One by one, or two by two with the married folks, recogniseable faces wandered in and were greeted with cheers. Chris was the face we didn't instantly recognise, he's changed a lot from being a blond Christian wiseass to being a balding Christian pastor at a church within 30 miles of my home. He'd been my neighbor for a bit and I played the fool to him a few times... it was nice to see that he'd followed in his father's footsteps, including how he and his wife had almost as many children as his own parents. Becky, who hosted the party several people remember so well at the end of our senior year (I told her I still talk about it!), was looking in fine form and proved you can age twenty years and have a couple kids yet have an amazing figure. Lilia and Andera and Theresa were just as great looking as ever, Daniel has continued to make a name for himself (I forgive him for evangelizing GW Bush to Hispanics, this got him some footing in his political career), Michelle was just as big as the last time I saw her, and Kari has gotten smaller yet her face and hair are the same as always. Sylvia V walked in and I asked her where Randy, whom she'd been with since high school and had two kids with by the time we graduated(!), was... she didn't answer at that moment, and she wrote her new last name on her nametag, which was neither her maiden name or Randy's last name. Er, uh... Lori told me once I regained composure, and Sylvia told me later that night, that they'd gotten separated at the time of our 10 year reunion but I didn't know this. (Randy, by the way, was said to be building a house a couple miles away so he should have stopped in, but didn't.) Adam was pretty cool to see since he's had his teeth fixed. Time wore on and the dinner hour approached, and people were still wandering in every so often. All told, there were a bit above 20 of us, out of a class of 96. This sort of bothered the organizers because they knew half of the class was still in or near town, yet didn't bother to show up. People who paid to come didn't show up. People we knew were within a few miles and weren't doing anything special didn't show up. Heck, Johnny had been telling people that the reunion was cancelled; he was over at Richard's house during the event, smoking dope, and classmates laughed that we should call them and get them to come because they'd be even more fun stoned than sober.
Charles was the welcome person to see, for me. Not just because my best friends from elementary school, Mike and Richard, didn't show up. He was the guy we decided at our 10 year reunion we were most surprised to see... he just didn't strike us as one who would have been interested. He's gone from the special ed class to having his own yardcare business which has proven him to be an average Joe. He and I talked on and off through the night, gossiping and reminiscing. When someone mows your yard and hangs out at the watering holes, chances are they also know your business better than you do. (I however refuse to believe his tale about how a long-deceased café owner and my godfather were lovers. One may have seemed gay but I could swear was married, the other... okay, is now gay after a long marriage and five children... but this doesn't mean they were 'together' in the 1970's. Even if it is true, I'm happy not knowing anything about it.) The other person I was happy to see was Sylvia P, not for any particular reason except to find out if her attitude about me had changed any since, oh, junior high. Maybe. She was civil to me, which was a first, and is now married (coming up on 8 years) with two kids so has apparently found a comfortable place in her life. She was the last to arrive so she only spent like two hours around all of us and fifteen minutes around me. The surprise visitor was Jay, whom I have mentioned in previous Daybook entries... he's now living on a military base in Italy, so he was the one who came the farthest for the reunion. I said hello, and he said, "I did a Google search for my name, and the only thing that came up was your site. I tried to judge from his face and manner whether he took objection to the true stories I'd told about him (some of which aren't exactly flattering when one is in command of a group of soldiers, but everyone remember: we were kids at the time, this doesn't bear any relevance in who we are today). I couldn't quite decypher, but I will say he didn't really talk much to me when I was standing right next to him. To repeat one thing I said (so now it has appeared here): If only we, in our youthful folly, hadn't wasted the things he and his family had saved, such as those WWII matches with the Japanese soldier caractures on each match or the pre-Comics Code war and horror comic books, he could have made a few bucks by now.
Having eaten the chicken or prime rib, talked until we were tired, and had our moment of socialness with people we may or may not have been social to during the years we were pitted together, the party dissolved around 11:00 p.m. People asked if I was going to spend the night in town or drive home, and initially I'd said it depended upon how bored I got. My own family was out of town so I joked that I could just park in front of their backyard garage or where their RV normally sits and sleep in my car, but I evaluated my awakeness level (brought about by 12 ounces of Mountain Dew Code Red) and figured I still had enough consciousness to get me through the next three hours. I had intended to drive over Chinook Pass and do another Bambi-watch through the Mount Rainier National Park, but figured that I should not overestimate my buzz and just drove home over Snoqualmie Pass, which one can do in hazardfree conditions (such as the case is in June) with one brain tied behind their back. I got home at 2:30 a.m. and caught up on my sleep all of Sunday. On the way home I felt myself wondering whether I should have found some epiphany, or learned something life-changing. I sort of wanted there to be a lesson here. I couldn't name any moment of teaching or of learning, so I came home pretty much the same as when I left... just with a better attitude. Ten years ago Cheryl had told me that she was skipping the 10 year reunion because everyone was still immature, but she'd come to the 20 year reunion; she didn't, but she was right about how when we were forced by circumstances (marriage, children, holding real jobs, etc.) to grow up that we would be worthwhile people. Oddly a number of the people who haven't grown up much, and are still living the same lives as they were around high school, didn't bother coming... you'd think they'd be the ones most eager to see everyone? Or maybe they didn't want everyone to see that they're still stuck in that vortex, which after 20 years can be pretty embarassing. I am happy to have gone, and while part of my decision not to take anything seriously was to not attempt to bring anyone else home (to not rekindle friendships which may have not existed previously) I know those possibilities exist, I gave my email address when asked and I took some email addresses. For sure, I do at least know that once in a great while, for a short time, I'm not quite the personna non gratis I've always been made to feel I am. --#2
Okay, maybe you have noticed that I haven't written anything in a month or two. Or maybe not. I can't say it's not apathy because, hmm, it is. Here is how things are going to work from henceforth: I write random nonsense much like here twice a week at Everyday Stupidities. I will write updates to this Daybook about once a month, because I want to limit the scope to R.A.T.-ish thoughts rather than be my pet blog. The Rotating Rant will be updated occasionally rather than monthly, something I've considered since day one because easy-going me doesn't always have something to gripe about. (Yes, in spite of my weblog being about Everyday Stupidities. That's just citations, not always gripes.) This site is not going away or totally atrophying, it's just going to be more a vehicle for people to see old R.A.T. work, as it was originally intended, with occasional new material to keep things fresh. Or as fresh as what's in that plastic container in your refrigerator... "is it meat? is it cake? it's meat-cake! Smell it... It has no smell. 'It's good, I'm saving it!'" – George Carlin. And I'll be making the 2005 archives available shortly, they're (still) offline.
Quick update to the crew: No idea about #3, Emmer. #1, Chrome is again attending the community college he started his educational career at and swore in the early 1990's he'd never return to. This wasn't his first choice, but it's a make-do that will get him a few credits until next semester. #2, Mushy is still doing what he does – updating the Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul found photo site monthly and writing on Everyday Stupidities whenever he feels like it... little new to report worth repeating as far as I can recall.
Some years ago I went to my 10 year high school reunion, hoping to see various people I thought were cool. And to my chagrin, all the jocks and preps showed up but Cheryl, Shirley, and Rosa were not. While I was in town I called Cheryl to see what was up; she still lives in the area, the other two moved across the state so I'm closer to them than I realized. She said that she decided to boycott the event because she figured that the jocks and preps would still be jocks and preps (and she was right) and encouraged the others to also avoid it, but said she and the others would likely come to the 20 year reunion. Our twenty year reunion is in two months. What a drag it is getting old... I really hope they show up. I'll be rather let down if they don't, no matter how nonchalent about the whole event I've told myself to be. (I took the last one a bit more serious than I should have. Somehow I expected all the dickheads to be less dicky. Bzzzt, wrong.) Expect something posted here in June about my reunion, good bad or indifferent. And don't expect indifferent.
And here's your formal announcement, a little late but it needed to finish its beta period: There has been a massive update to The Pimpin' Life of Bill Ding, formerly 16 images but now has 55! If you saw it before, see it again now. --#2
Today's linguistic gripe is any phrase that follows this pattern: "I'd be more than ___ to [do whatever]." No. It's not possible on the phone. You can't be more than willing, except in interpersonal situations where you are also able. You can't be more than more than welcome, though that can lead to you acting a little too welcome. You can't be more than happy, unless of course you have a towel and a change of pants handy. I've noticed the people who use this overemphasis also tell you that you and that person are going to "go ahead and" proceed with what you were going to accomplish in the first place. Know how much I hate that term? More than words can express. (But see, that just means it defies or exceeds quantification. Willingness and welcomeness and happiness and such are not clearly quantifiable but they do have logical limits.) Customer service drones of the world: just say you're willing to help, the caller is welcome to ask questions, and you'd be happy to answer them. You sound more than stupid if you don't say things accurately. Do not go ahead and do something, just DO IT. :) There should be more to this entry but my brain (now coming off a wicked cold) isn't functioning. --#2
Okay, if you're a regular reader you are aware that R.A.T. believes that the average person has no need for a vanity webpage, and by extention/modernization of the thought, also has nothing worth reading to write on a weblog. Well, since we're not good at practicing what we preach (or Mushy anyhow is known for his "do as I say, not as I do" hypocritical behavior) there is a blog, Everyday Stupidities, which was meant as an extention of Mushy's mind and not of this page. While the Daybook has been somewhat of a weblog of his thoughts, the original intention was to reflect the Reality Avoidance Therapists' philosophies and provide examples of how they work in real life – "realize the joy of irony" as we say. I'm trying to shunt the stories about stupidity which surrounds us over there, and leave this space free for past anecdotes and present tenseness. Of course, if the tales of stupidity are short and amusing, they might wind up here, as seen with the following three examples.
Recently I've seen an ad for Earthlink (Mushy's former employer and the unwitting host of this site) – you know, the folks who closed all seven domestic call centers and sent all the jobs overseas – and I always chuckle when I encounter one that contains "employees" who are speak clear English and aren't naturally tanned. The ad in question has a huge creamy dollop of irony hidden in it: This one shows three Caucasians, claiming "I work for Earthlink" first thing, and we see images of unicorns, leprechauns, and other figments of fantasy passing through. The direct message is that with this ISP they get what they want. The hidden message is, just like everything else in this ad, American working for Earthlink are mythical!! (Bitter, me? Nah. Wishing they'd use their SpamBlocker and ScamBlocker products on their own advertising campaigns? Yes, indeed.)
I found another hidden message, this one in a new product listing. Though the gadget announcement websites, I've seen one or two digital cameras that are coming out which can be used as PMPs (personal media players) – devices that play music and video, similar to the iPod v5 or any of the other MP3-player-with-little-screens products out there (and that niche seems to be growing every day). My first reaction was, this is the perfect toy for people who want to take pictures and shoot video of the world around them, but realize their world sucks so they'd prefer to watch yesterday's downloaded prime-time television programs or episodes of "Family Guy" ripped from DVD instead. Much like a backseat DVD player on a trip through the countryside, this is for people who constantly need to be entertained, privately, while being surrounded by the real awe-inspiring world and other people.
There's this cell phone, the LG 8100, which comes with an MP3 player built into it. A new music download service provided by one cellular provider is going to become available on 1/16, and it has its own music player as part of the phone's firmware update to use the service. The catch? The new player only plays WMA files – and DISABLES the original MP3 player. "Having more than one media option would confuse our customers," said the announcement sent to the provider's technical support staff, which was part advertisement and part informing people in the support departments that when customers call in to say "I can't play MP3's anymore, what happened?" they will know why. The package apparently comes with some software that will translate one's MP3s into WMA files, but the release claims there is no way to use the Apple iTunes service with the phone (which is not true, there are translator programs to convert iTunes downloads into MP3 or WMA, but they don't provide or mention such software because they want to force everyone who uses iTunes to buy one of those extremely shitty Motorola ROKR iTunes-capable phones). I foresee problems.
Okay, go visit that blog now. Commenting only available to Blogspot members to reduce the riffraff, but signing up only takes a minute (if you aren't already a member, which any decent blog-reader should be), and they don't sell your address/info. --#2