There is no spoon. Also, no four.

My office is located in a three story building with a basement. If you get on the elevator, you'll see buttons labeled 1, 2, 3, and B (B for basement).

A stranger followed me onto the elevator this morning (I know, I should take the stairs). I pushed 2 for the floor for my office and asked the other occupant, "Where are you going?"

"Four," she said.

Perhaps I misheard her request and needed clarification.

"One?" I asked.

She shot me a strange look: part frustrated, part aghast. "No," she said, "four."

I hit the three button. The elevator doors closed, trapping me inside with the lost office worker.

She looked at me as if I was some strange creature recently escaped from Alice's Wonderland and though she needed to clarify her destination.

"I need to go upstairs," she said.

We're in the basement, I thought to my self, everything is upstairs from here.

"Three is as high as it goes," I told her. "There is no four."

She stared at the elevator buttons with an expression that danced between bewilderment and genuine concern.

"That's strange," she said.

The door slid open and I fled in fear for my IQ. I have never been so relieved to exit an elevator since getting stuck in one at the resort.


Five for Friday

Judge people not for the content of their character, but the contents of their pockets.

Just kidding. But what if we were judged by the contents of our pockets? What would the contents of my pockets say about me? There are currently five items in my pocket.

1. A single poker chip. Red.
2. Two guitar picks. One orange and one green. Both are medium gauge, but the green one is slightly thicker.
3. A dime. I usually carry coinage of some varying quantity, but today it is ten cents. One lone coin.
4. My iPhone. Also known as the Swiss Army Knife of the digital age.
5. Keys. My wife's keys to be specific as my keys are in her purse.


An Admission of Regret

Changes? I have no idea what you're talking about.

But while we're on the topic, answer the poll question on the right hand rail.


Complicating nature's call

This may or may not be a surprise to you, but there are people who avoid public restrooms. Be it fear or psychosis, some obsessive compulsion to avoid germs or a need to control their environment, public potties are a deathtrap.

To understand the reasoning behind this avoidance strategy, please indulge this vocabulary lesson.

Lutropublicaphobia: fear of using public restrooms
Paruresis: The inability to pee in the presence of other people (real or imagined). Also known as a bashful bladder.
Parcopresis: The inability to poop without a predefined or preferred level of privacy. Also known as psychogenic fecal retention or shy bowels.

Now imagine my horror when I step into the bathroom this afternoon to do my duty and see this poster covering the toilet side of the stall door:

I’m certain that the Mad Hatter is not helping any of the preceding psychological conditions.


Drive Slow

Christian rode with me to the grocery store this evening. While approaching a stop sign, he gave me the following observation.

"Decelerate means to slow down."

"That is correct," I said. "Decelerate does mean to slow down."

"Yeah," he continued, "and slow down means to slow down."

*** * *** * ***

And while we're on the topic of the family, I have a fantastically splendorific news that is so full of awesome that my blog can not contain it. For the past five years, my wife has looked over my blogging shoulder with a Cheshire smile and bemused roll of her eyes, reading an occasional post and chiding me when I most deserved it. For the past couple years (more-so in recent months) I've poked and prodded her and coaxed with every ounce of creativity that I could muster to convince her to start a blog. Just when I though all hope was lost, she did it. She started a blog.

To which I can only think of two things to say: Wahoo! and It's about time. As in life, her blog's purpose is far more defined than mine. You can find her blog here, My Special Blessings. Go ahead, show her some love. I know you want to.


Where do you put the bean counters

I believe I've mentioned this before, but I analyze numbers for a living. I manipulate numbers, try to make sense of them, and explain them to others. I use those numbers to fix problems, predict problems, and prevent problems. I stare at spreadsheets and databases all day. Charts and graphs are my constant companions. Well... charts, graphs, and these three guys:

My world is the realm of data analysts. In the corporate world, that comes with some benefits (occasional free food) and a handful of stereotypes. Not all the stereotypes aply to me, but I do get excited after successfully writing a monstrous formula. I know, I'm a nerd.

One of those assumptions about number crunchers came into play today.

We've been changing some of the layout of our building; as a result I had to forfeit my relatively new corner (ish) office. I don't yet have a permanent home, so I am temporarily occupying a cubicle reserved for someone else (I believe HR, but I could be wrong).

A coworker and I were chatting outside my short term office when one of our maintenance staff members stopped by to ask a question.

After his initial query he asked, "Who's set up in there?" (pointing to my computer.)

"I am." I said.

"Who are you?" he asked. "You don't have a silver tag."

True, I don't have a silver tag. The admin in our company all wear silver name tags so that we're easily recognized. I should probably have one, but I've not received a tag in the past year and a half since I was promoted into this position.

"No, I don't."

"What do you do?"

"Data analytics..."

"You're not supposed to be in there," he said, "you're supposed to be in a deep dark hole."


Days like today

Days like today make me glad to...

1: Be alive
2: Reside in North Idaho

(Please excuse the picture quality. My iPhone is the only camera I had with me.)


Five for Friday (plus some)

Two things.

When I recognized that I had missed two consecutive weeks, I promised an epic F4F post to make up for it. Then I skipped that next Friday. Yes, I know, I'm a bad blogger. Don't worry, I'm wearing my cone of shame.

On a lighter note (second thing), I'm making it up today.

A coworker of mine was heading over to Seattle for a family vacation and wanted some tips on where to go/what to see. She was only planning on a three day trip, so there clearly was not time for everything. So I gave her my top 10 things to see and do while in the Emerald City.

(In no particular order...)

What to do:

1. The Ballard Locks. A good place to kill a couple hours. Watch the boats pass through from lake to sound or vice versa. There's also a fish ladder, beautiful garden, and open shaded grassy areas perfect for a picnic.
2. Woodland Park Zoo. It's not the greatest zoo in the world, but it is better than Point Defiance and the zoo in Portland. And it's far superior to the Boise Zoo. So Woodland Park is the best in the northwest. It takes a full day to truly appreciate, however I usually do the zoo and the locks on the same day since they're in close proximity.
3. EMP. I'm a music nerd and the Experience Music Project is a must for any music obsessive personality. However, the EMP can be enjoyed by anyone with any level of musical knowledge. Filled with the history of modern music and a treasure trove of memorabilia from musicians that called Seattle home. Many of the exhibits are interactive, giving everyone a hands-on experience that is worth the admission price.
4. The Monorail. There's cheap parking on the north side of town - around the Seattle Center. Park, then walk to the Space Needle. The monorail travels from there to West Lake Center and everything you could ever want to see Downtown is within walking distance. The monorail is a fun ride and is the quickest method of travel between Lower Queen Anne and Downtown. Sure beats the traffic.
5. Downtown and waterfront shopping. One could spend a full day exploring in and out of both quirky and mainstream retail outlets. Westlake Center, Pike Place Market (must see the fish tossing on the main level, but there is a wealth of interesting shops in the lower levels), The original Starbucks, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, Sports Den, and Pirates Plunder. Also, (a little outside of Downtown) REI's flagship store is an essential shopping destination. The store features a 65' freestanding rock climbing wall, and gear sampling/testing stations (including a mountain bike test trail).
6. Pioneer Square and the underground tour. The underground tour walks through Seattle's eccentric history and is a delight on it's own. But it starts/ends in Pioneer Square - home of a famous totem pole, art galleries, parks, museums, and antique shops. There are also several great ethnic eateries in the adjoining International District. Another place to lose a full day in wandering.
7. Gasworks Park. A small piece of Seattle/Hollywood trivia: Gasworks Park was one of the many locations in and around Seattle used for filming 10 Things I hate About You. It's a fun park that used to be the Gas and Light Company property. It affords spectacular views of of the north end of the city across Lake Union.
8. The Japanese Garden and Washington Park Arboretum. This is (in my opinion) the most relaxing location in Seattle. Sandwiched between Lake Washington Blvd. and Broadmoor Golf Club, these gardens stretch north to Union Bay, opposite Husky Stadium.
9. The Bremerton to Seattle ferry. This attraction comes with a stipulation. The ride mast be taken from Bremerton to Seattle, and it must be taken at night. It doesn't matter how you get to Bremerton (take the ferry or drive the long way through Tacoma and across the Tacoma Narrows) or how long you stay (it is a fun little town if you want to spend some time there). When dusk approaches, get on the the ferry and head back to Seattle. The sinking sun will provide enough light to enjoy the scenic vistas as you leave the terminal. Twilight will fall by the time you pass Bainbridge Island, and once you turn into Elliott Bay, you see the quintessential site of the City: night has fallen and the city is lit up. The ferry provides an unobstructed view that is equally stunning and priceless.
10. Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge. Roughly a half hour drive east of Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls is a quick detour away from the city. It's a popular attraction and worth the trip. It is not as voluminous as Niagara Falls, but it is taller - dropping 270 feet. There is a breathtaking viewing platform above the falls, a trail leading down into the canyon (for those that want to hike to the base of the waterfall) and the lodge. For an extra special touch, the Salish Lodge has both dining and a day spa. Get a massage. They also have a Coffee Exfoliation treatment. I don't know what that is but it sound invigorating.


What to eat:

1. Alaskan Sourdough Bakery on Pier 57.
2. Old Spaghetti Factory.
3. Dick's Drive In. There are five of them to choose from in and around town. (my personal favorite is the one in North Seattle on 45th.) It's an absolute - and greasy - part of Seattle history.
4. Serious Pie. Delicious, creative, and artistic pizzas. Applewood oven. Ever changing menu.
5. The New Orleans. Jambalaya, gumbo, po boys... It's not 100% authentic creole cooking but it's as Cajun as it gets on the west coast.


Daddy, or...

Due to JJ's multiple hospitalizations and surgeries, he's grown up with a slight speech delay. While he is as smart or competent as any other boy his age, he lacks the ability to express himself vocally. (yes, we are teaching him some sign language)

At this moment in time, his vocabulary is limited: momma, nanna, no, huh, yeah, and a few other babbling vocalizations. He can say daddy, but it takes some coaxing.

Like this evening.

Me: Say 'daddy.'
JJ: (stares at me)
Me: Say 'daddy.'
JJ: Dodo.

Daddy, dodo... eh, close enough.

The problem with pain

Pain is a human plague. It is a blight that knows no discrimination; it ignores all boundaries of gender, age, race, and political affiliation. Yet, pain is not fairly distributed. There are people whose lives are constantly bombarded with trials and tribulation and they are emotionally wounded. Other individuals (whether through providence, luck, or skill) seem to escape the difficulties of life and they live in a charmed existence. There are also a few who seek agony for some perverse thrill.

I don't like pain. With the exception of masochists, I think that statement is true for most people. People don't like to hurt. If it was pleasant, it wouldn't be called pain.

Yet, my adversion to any form of discomfort is abnormal. While I dislike pain, I also do all I can to avoid it. The irony in that statement is the harder I work to avoid any twinge of affliction, the more it hurts. The backwards logic of torment declares that the one must endure pain to excape pain.

Now I'm not suggesting anyone should torture themselves in order to avoid future injury. Quite the opposite. I propose no invitation to danger nor any reckless pursuits. What I am discovering (and relaying here) is a challenge to face whatever ails you. Don't shy away, stand tall. Don't flee, stay and fight.

Neither am I attempting to dilude the reality of pain. A current painful experience will never negate future hurts or ailments. Trouble will come and may be more trying than any other misery you've previously faced. Walking through pain is not a promise to never hurt again, but the strength to endure whatever troubles come your way.

I don't know where you are right now, if I find you in joy or sorrow - in sickness or vibrance. I may be writing this to challenge myself (and I freely admit that I might not ever get this right), but I also wish to spur you along to grow with me. Maybe, in the midst of your pain...


On being a musicphile

There are benefits to being music obsessive, one of which is having a song for any situation.

For example, a friend of mine was complaining that her customers were mean today - probably because it was a Monday. Knowing that she grew up in and graduated high school in the 80s, I gave her some appropriate musical advice.

Step 1: Load one single track onto an MP3 player.
Step 2: When ever she finishes talking to a rude or spiteful customer, push play.
Step 3: Listen to Depeche Mode's People are People.
Step 4: Smile.

Unfortunately, she's not allowed to have an MP3 player at work. However, I'm certain she had that song stuck in her head for the rest of the day.