Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Local Spot

When I lived in the Midwest we'd stop at a bar after skiing for a drink, but it's a bit different. Out West locals and tourists alike pile into the local haunt. In the Midwest we'd drive off the hill and stop at a rural bar on the way home. The benefits were great food, prices that were pennies over what you'd pay in the grocery store, and colorful characters who showed a wide range of emotions when a bunch of goofy people in bright Gore-Tex jackets walked in. We'd try not to bring Mat skiing with, or at least not to the bar. Not because he was a bad guy, but because he was so cheap that when we went to these bars after skiing the only thing he'd order would be a cup of hot water. His logic was that it warmed you, hydrated you, and they'd have a hard time charging you for it. I suppose he was correct, but that didn't mean we wanted him around. Not getting beat up at the local bar was already hard enough.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Making Photos

I am a bad photographer. For a while there I operated on the theory that if you took enough photos at least a few would be really good, but it doesn't work like that. It's more like you have to work really hard at understanding your camera and then creating appealing compositions. I'm bad at it, but I comfort myself knowing that at least I know I'm bad at it. There are so many ways for people to share photos these days, and a lot of them doing the sharing don't know that they're not very good at taking photos. I never say anything to them though, since, well, I'm also not very good at it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Same Folks, The Same Faces

I keep thinking that I see the same people over and over. Not the same person all day, but one person each day who looks exactly like someone I knew 10 years ago. This either means that I'm running into but ignoring old friends; I've seen all of the ways people can look in the world and now I'm beginning to see doubles; or I'm trapped in some Truman-Show-esque event and they're running out of extras. Or I suppose it's possible that the part of your brain that recognizes faces begins to get corrupt after you drink a lifetime total of 1000 pints of Guinness.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

It's Obvious

Yesterday it was 70F and sunny. Today it was 30F and sunny. It was very easy to tell who had and who had not checked the weather before they walked out the door this morning. All those guys in button-down shirts and ties who left their jackets at home? They must not get cell reception in their apartments. The young man on the bike with bright bare limbs turned bright red? Either a supreme optimist or his windows are painted shut.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Extortion Law

We were going around the room talking about transgressions in middle school and high school and shoplifting came up. My friend from Kansas said that his state had a strange law. If you got caught shoplifting, you could pay for the amount of the merchandise, leave it, plus pay the store $100. He'd taken advantage of this law once at a Sam Goody CD store during his reckless youth. We called it the extortion law, but now I'm more inclined to think it was the naive law. I suspect that the enterprising Sam Goody employees told him he could go to jail or pay $100, and he chose the latter, and in doing so helped to line their pockets a bit.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Morning Television

Morning news shows contain little news. I heard the word "infotainment" applied once and it makes sense. It's more of a whitewashed news as told by idiots. The one exception is CBS news, which covers actual news, but that ends at 9 a.m. and on comes a program that features the former musician Queen Latifa. I'm usually turning it off just as she comes on, but sometimes I'll overhear a few minutes of her celebrity guests fawning over her while pumping up my bike tires or struggling to get my rain pants on over my boots. It reminds me of one time when I was in Florida and watching the local news and reflecting that there must be a lot of poorly informed people in this small corner of the state. But I guess they were onto something since now the top national news shows all pretty much follow their nonsense format.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Traffic Tickets from Robots

The police mailed me a ticket for running a red light while driving a rental car. What's troubling to me is that I don't remember ever running a red light. I'm sure it happened, I'm just happy I didn't run anyone over. A camera took a picture of my license plate when I ran the light. I have also run a lot of red lights (four or five a day) on my bike, but I don't have a license plate on my bike. I wonder if somewhere at the police station there's a hard drive with photos of me running red lights every day for years on end, and once they get approval to use facial recognition technology they'll send a car to pick me up and take me to traffic jail.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Plausible Deniability

A friend of mine went to Costa Rica and decided to bring back four Cuban cigars. This is illegal. Instead of taking off the wrapper and putting them in his jacket pocket, he created an elaborate subterfuge hiding them in a box of hygienic products inside of his wife's suitcase. This is insane. If you have them in your pocket you can say they're not Cuban, or you can say it was a horrible mistake. When customs tears open his wife's luggage and finds them secreted away in plastic wrappers that do not normally contain cigars, then you're going to have a hard time explaining what happened.