Technology, Team-Building, Certitude, Crazy Dog Lady
The guy in the office next to mine — get this — is talking to his wife and kid. Wait, it gets better. His wife and kid are in Russia (that’s right, the-opposite-side-of-the-planet Russia). And not only is he talking to them, he can see them! He is sitting at his desk, right now, seeing and talking to his family! And it’s free! HOLY FUCKING SHIT!
The guy in the other office next to mine takes off his headphones just long enough to tell me that this is no big deal.
We were discussing team-building activities at work. I suggested we all go overseas to fight ISIS for a week. The reception to this idea was less than lukewarm, even after I recommended that whoever doesn’t make it back gets a prominently displayed memorial plaque.
There’s right, and then there’s really, really right.
We all know what a gas gauge is. There's a needle and it points to anywhere between the “F” for full and the “E” for empty. Your gas tank can be absolutely full, to the point where you can't squeeze a single ounce more in, and absolutely empty, where there isn't a vapor left; your gas tank is a desert with bleached cow skulls and cacti and vultures circling overhead. And then there's the vast area in between full and empty indicating the varying degrees of fullness or emptiness: half full, nearly empty, and so on.
“Right” and “wrong” has a gauge very similar to the gas gauge. One can be absolutely right and absolutely wrong. And then there's the whole area in between where you can be partially right or not entirely wrong. You get the idea.
But let's return to absolutely right and wrong. It is possible to be so right that the needle is jammed flush to the “R” for right, so forcefully against it that the needle is straining, quivering, getting hot, that it begins to carve a groove into the very edge of right, it actually tries to burrow deeper into absolute right, to enter the realm of infinite rightness, where one encounters angels and the purest and rightest of rightness, righteous rightness, where wrong cannot possibly exist. A person can really be that right. I have been that right.
And boy do I hate it when people disagree with me then. Know what I'm sayin’?
I need someone to tell me that consuming Fritos, the greatest junk food in this solar system and several others, is good for me. Throwing in a few scientific-sounding words will help.
I am following Bill Mumy, young Will Robinson of “Lost in Space,” on Facebook. Someday I hope we can be real friends (not just Facebook friends) so I can get intimate details about what life with the robot was really like.
Dogfight at Fresh Pond.
It being a classic, mild New England fall day, my wife and I decided to take a walk around scenic Fresh Pond in Cambridge MA, a beautiful tract of preservation land that has, as you might expect, a large pond at its center. There is a trail that follows the pond’s shore and shortly into our stroll we noticed that Fresh Pond is a popular place for dog owners to take their pets for walks. This is fine; I like doggies and the Missus tolerates them. Signs posted at intervals along the trail show the rules. Leashes can’t be more than six feet long and dogs are permitted to be off the leash so long as they respond immediately to their owners’ call. Also, pets can’t harass other visitors to the park. This last part is important.
When we started off, we didn't know about the relaxed leash rules and early into our walk a large dog galloped up near us. The Missus, who has always been a bit skittish around dogs, especially the big ones, got upset by this by overly familiar pooch. She wheeled around and chided the dog's owner, some fifty feet away, for not respecting leash laws.
This owner, who will forever be known as Crazy Dog Lady, was managing two other mutts beside this one, and she was very quick to correct my wife about her perfect right to allow the dog off the leash. At that moment, I distinctly saw a blinding flash of light followed by the nascent formation of a mushroom cloud. I gently guided the Missus away as quickly as I could and we kept moving. My wife was angry. She was steaming mad as only a Puerto Rican can and I could feel it. The air crackled with her anger. I’ve been married to this woman for nearly thirty years and I can accurately inform you that this anger, when combined with oxygen and a crazy dog lady, is a highly combustible mix. Unfortunately, we soon came to a turning that put us in close proximity to this woman, giving her another chance to get into it with us. She said something like, “Blah blah blah the rules blah blah you shouldn’t be here.” I cut her off by saying, “Okay, okay, we get it. Enjoy your walk.” That shut her up, but it didn’t satisfy her.
Have you ever encountered someone spoiling for a fight, like they have unfinished business with you? Do you sense that they need closure, possibly in the form of you falling to your knees, tearing at your clothes and abjectly begging forgiveness? That they need to witness a humiliating admission of ignorance and to hear you express horror at the extent of your crime? Do you suspect that they, to this end, might arrange another encounter with you, seemingly accidental? Do you think this is possible?
Encountering no trouble with other people’s dogs, we kept walking while Crazy Dog Lady trailed at a distance of about seventy-five feet. She called to her dogs constantly in a strong, melodic voice, the kind you expect to hear on a farm, the type of voice someone would use to call in the cows. I tried to concentrate on the fine weather, the tranquility of the pond and how it reflected the blue sky, and the miracle of this peaceful pocket of nature incongruously inserted into a busy urban setting. None of that worked. I was worried about my wife and her anger and the mushroom cloud that continued to build.
Inevitably, Crazy Dog Lady and her three rambunctious mutts got closer and closer. Finally, one dog, a different one this time, ran up and bumped into the Missus, who was genuinely startled. Before anything was said, Crazy Dog Lady declared, “That wasn’t his fault. You bumped into him.”
Words were exchanged. I played the part of hockey referee separating two fighters. Crazy Dog Lady, who is somewhere in her sixties, wore a silly knit winter hat with earflaps and layers of clothing too warm for the day. Her face was ruddy with good health and she seemed intelligent, but you could tell there was something a little off with her. She didn’t want to be placated by my conciliatory words and threatened to contact the ranger. We obviously weren’t residents there, she said, and we had no business being there. I wouldn’t engage, because I have learned from my many dealings with agitated people that you will never get satisfaction from arguing with them. I merely repeated, “Okay, okay, enjoy your walk,” which, now when I think about it, must have pissed her off even more.
And so we left. I hated to leave, but you don’t go to places like Fresh Pond to fight.
Out of curiosity, are either Donald Trump or Ben Carson electable nationally? Does the average Republican think his party stands a good chance with either one at the top of the ticket?
So is it Myanmar or Burma? To go by how western news outlets report on the country, it feels like they’d prefer to be called “Myanmar” but can’t shake off “Burma.”
The label on the electronic device I just purchased says “Made in Cathay.”
That is all.