I bought lunch for The Card Collector at Kentucky Fried Chicken again the other day.

He told me about the $25 a night hotel he’d stayed in the night before. “It was nice because I could get under the covers and press the buttons on the TV.” He showed me the key that they’d let him keep for the day under the assumption that he’d be able to get together $25 for that night. I took this as a hint and gave him enough money for the night.

He asked me to keep him company for a few minutes, so I sat and stared out the window. He talked about how things had been going, about sleeping outside, how thankful he was for what the lord above had given him, and about the job and apartment a church had promised him weeks ago.

I was feeling a little tired and stiff. When the conversation lulled, I explained that I was a little worn out and that that was why I wasn’t very talkative. As I said that, I realized how stupid it was for me to be talking about my minor discomfort to him – using the same language that he might use when describing the effects of sleeping in a doorway.

Then he told me, “I wish there was something I could say to heal your pain.”
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Blue on Red

I tried a little experiment. I placed two pictures on Am I Hot Or Not. In the first I’m wearing a blue shirt and standing in front of a red background. In the second I’m wearing a red shirt in front of a blue background.

The results are rolling in and it doesn’t look good for me in a red shirt. As of now, his score is 6.9 out of 10 (D+). This compares to me in a blue shirt’s score of 8.3 (B-).

Penguin/Not a penguin

Penguin/Not a penguin

I am now the proud adopted father of an endangered Magellanic penguin. It’s name is Pike and it lives in the Falkland Islands. It was a Christmas gift from my friend Fiona.

In July 2000, I was up in England visiting her. Her parents and I were talking about traveling in Scotland – I had just been there and her parents were going to holiday there in a couple of weeks. At some point I said how surprised I was to find out there were penguins in the Hebrides and some of the other islands.

Fiona’s mother looked at me like a was crazy, “Penguins! Where’d you get that idea?”

“There’s a picture in my guidebook.” To defend my honor, I retrieved the book and showed her.

“That’s a puffin!”

“That’s a type of penguin, isn’t it?”

No it turns out, it’s not. Fiona and her mother found my confusion very funny. And for the last last year and a half, I’ve been reminded of my lapse by a steady stream of puffin postcards, penguin sculptures, and now a real live penguin.

Starbucks Nowhere

[This entry came off more mean-spirited than I intended and now it’s gone. The gist of it was:
Starbucks: Bad enough.
Visiting every Starbucks in the world: Worse.]

The Struat Manual of Style

I was just typing a sentence that included the phrase “Merry Christmas” and I wondered why I was capitalizing “Merry” in the middle of a sentence. It seems to me that that’s how it’s usually presented. Shouldn’t it begin with a lowercase “m”? Yes it should. That is what I’ve decided. “Quixotic” on the other hand should always be capitalized, in the same way that “Capraesque” is capitalized.

So anyway, thank you and merry Christmas to Carrie, my Secret Santa. I hope your Christmas is more Capraesque than it is Quixotic.

The Barber and the Priest

In Snoopy’s Quixotic mind his best friend was a bird named Woodstock. There were really many different bird-visitors though, and to their shared confusion, Snoopy called all of them Woodstock.

A Thousand Words

I bought lunch for the card collector at Kentucky Fried Chicken again the other day. At one point he told me that he was dyslexic and couldn’t read because his father had taken him out of school early on. This revelation clarified a couple of things. His dyslexia kind of explains his confusing word choices (like when he called the Salvation Army bell-ringer a “door opener”). And regarding his obsessed with photographs, cards, and slides: I think he likes pictures because the world of the written word is so confusing to him.

Movie I Only Saw the End of #74

Another movie that I only saw the end of:

The police are gathered outside a house, guns drawn. Kirk Cameron walks slowly away from the house toward the police car. A small group of kids and a girl of about eighteen or twenty are watching the scene unfold from the open front door. When Kirk Cameron reaches a point about halfway between the door and the car, he raises his hands above his head.

The kids aren’t going to let this happen, they scramble out of the house and stand around him, each in turn raising his or her arms above his or her head.

We cut to a court room. Kirk Cameron is being sentenced by the judge. Everyone from the previous scene is present.

The judge is saying, “The one thing I hate about being a judge is having to punish someone for committing a crime out of immaturity rather than out of evil.”

“Wait,” one of the kids, an African-American boy of about seven, interrupts. “I come from a rough place. I know a lot of criminals. He isn’t a criminal.”

The older girl voices her agreement.

The judge considers this for a beat. He turns his attention to one of the other kids, a little girl, “And what do you think?”

The little girl manages to say, “He’s made us into a family!” through her heavy stutter.

“Well then my sentence,” continues the judge, “is that you will be required to take care of these children home which will henceforth be known as the William Preston Home For Children!”

“And you,” he addresses the older girl, “will be required to work with him.”

Everyone is excited about this judgment.

We cut to the home. Everyone is running around happy. Eventually they all converge on a barn and watch an adult pig and a bunch of baby pigs swarming around in the hay. One of the baby pigs is brown and pink, the others are all pink.

“Look everyone,” Kirk Cameron tells them, “this was the first pig born today.” He’s apparently referring to the pig with spots. “It’s the Christmas pig!”

Wrong Place And Time

I apologize in advance for this story.

I was having dinner with three coworkers (my boss and two of our visiting counterparts from the European arms of the company) at The Pink Door after work on a Friday. We were finishing up and I got up to use the restroom. The restaurant shares restrooms with the stores in a certain part of Pike Place Market, so it was pretty much open to the public.

I entered and due to (ahem) the nature of my business, I passed by the urinal and reached for the stall door. It was locked and a voice from inside said, “Just a minute.”

I considered what etiquette was appropriate in that situation. Should I wait out in the hallway? I decided that it would okay to wait inside, since I had to go pretty badly and he would only be a minute.
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Pocket Standards

I felt optimistic about the clear skies today and wore my lighter jacket. The issue at hand is that the inside pocket of my light jacket is on the left-hand side and the inside pocket of my heavier jacket is on the right-hand side. So when I switch jackets after having favored one over the other for awhile, I reach for my wallet and it isn’t there. For a moment I think, “My pocket is missing.” Then I figure it out and fish around on the other side.

Today I payed for my tea at Vivace after going through this minor comedy of errors. And I wondered, Isn’t there some industry standard for the placement of pockets? Shouldn’t the clothing industry choose one side and stick with it, like they have with buttons on shirts (on the right for men’s shirts, on the left for women’s)? Then I remembered that I’d bought the light jacket in Edinburgh after having left my thin Goretex jacket in a Glasgow hotel. Maybe there are pocket standards, I thought, but maybe they’re different in the US than they are in the UK – like the placement of steering wheels. Then I recalled a vague memory that I’d had trouble adapting when I’d gotten the heavier coat because the jacket I’d had before that had an inside pocket on the left-hand side. Perhaps the standard is to have the pocket on the left, but perhaps Columbia Sportswear (the maker of my heavier jacket) is breaking that standard. Then again maybe it’s an anti-pick pocket device. There was a moment of doubt though, Was it the heavy jacket that I’d had trouble with or the Goretex jacket? That’s about the point that I stopped thinking about it, deciding that though I had a lot of information, it would be impossible to come to any conclusions.