Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Yin and Yang of Foot Comfort

I recently purchased sandals for the first time. Not that I’ve stolen them in the past, I’ve just never owned a pair—at least not that I remember, and certainly not as an adult. I’m still getting used to them, as I wear them primarily on weekends and remove them whenever occasion permits. They’re convenient, no doubt, but they’re sweaty and call upon muscles I did not previously know God had created. If I walk at a continuous, brisk pace for more than a few minutes, the outer edges of my feet begin to cramp. If I’m not careful, I’ll stumble going up or down stairs. If I go too fast, the flip-flops will flip and flop right out from under me. It’s like learning to walk all over again, an event so traumatic that I, like everyone else I know, have blocked it from memory.

But poise and social grace aside, there are other reasons to opt for regular, comparatively-bulky shoes, even when one is doing nothing more than sitting at a computer, typing a blog post or taking phone calls from angry customers. By removing one’s footwear, a person is immediately at peace with the world, at ease, relaxed, sedate. Once that person achieves an adequate level of inner tranquility, restoring the shoes to one’s feet fills the individual with a sense of comfort, security, love, protection. A pair of lightweight sandals simply lacks the breadth necessary to come in handy—er, footy—at these times of emotional and psychological need. It’s like comparing a handshake to a hug, a high-five to a kiss. Forget about it!

I kicked my shoes off for a little while at work today. Seeing as how no one complained of an odd smell, I think I’ll make a habit of the practice. It was refreshing. I felt like I was somehow getting away with taking a nap, right in front of everyone, right on the phone, right while talking to a customer. And when I finally slid my feet back into their dress code-friendly abodes, I had mellowed to such a degree that the enveloping synthetic material felt like nothing more than a foot rub—a gentle massage, magically paused with pressure perfectly applied to my appendages.

Anyone whose childhood took place largely during the penultimate decade of the 20th century is already familiar with the wise words of Mr. Miyagi: “wax on, wax off.” Not wishing to compare myself to this sage, let me nevertheless borrow his simplistic formula in offering some wisdom of my own—shoes on, shoes off. Herein you’ll find peace.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Sound of One Hand Washing

Few, if anyone, are indifferent toward their public restroom experiences. Most of us have strong opinions regarding the method in which we publicly relieve our bladders, or at least regarding those who relieve their bladders in close proximity to us. The most commonly expected courtesy, for example, is to preserve as much spatial distance between two urinating persons as possible—never, never, never use the urinal or stall closest to another restroom patron unless extenuating circumstances require you to do so.

Beyond the realm of etiquette, restroom preferences still exist. You may opt for a hot air dryer, or you may prefer the quick-and-easy paper towel dispenser when it comes to drying your hands. Still others may choose the communal towel roll, a seemingly endless piece of cloth on which everyone wipes their dampened digits (though why you’d seek this option is beyond me). I personally opt for the environmentally-ignorant paper towels, and one perk of my new old job is the restroom’s motion-detector paper towel dispensers. They’re not only convenient and sanitary, they’re fun, utilizing technology reminiscent of the Starship Enterprise.

But be careful what you wish for. The new location of my new old job has brought such improvements to the restroom department that relieving myself is no longer a mindless activity. The luxurious state of these comparatively contemporary restrooms has played upon my obsessive-compulsive tendencies. Each of the three interconnected sink basins has its own soap dispenser, and each dispenser is filled with a different kind of soap. They’re all the same brand, I’m sure, and they’re all foam soap, but they are different colors and different smells. Luckily, I didn’t discover this until recently. Now I find myself alternating between the different scents with each lavatory visit. The peach-colored concoction, located at the sink basin I had consistently used until last week, turns out to be my least favorite, but I can’t decide if I prefer the rose-colored soap on the far end of the restroom or the blue raspberry-colored lather located smack in the middle. Multiple restroom visits per day have yet to yield a definitive answer.

And despite the advancements, the restrooms do feature one major flaw. The sinks are operated by those push-button faucets rather than by handles, knobs, or motion sensors. You’ve seen this kind of sink before, no doubt; it’s the kind where you’re given about five seconds worth of running water every time you press down, forcing you to either hold the button down with one hand while attempting to wash the other solo, or to press the button again and again with soapy hands, making their eventual cleanliness highly questionable. It’s an experience rather akin to the behaviorism-experiment videos you’re shown in high school psychology classes. Tap, tap, tap on the button, little mouse—you’ll get your reward.

Philosophically speaking, I can’t figure out the rationale that would lead to the selection of this type of plumbing. Does it avoid excessive use of water by controlling the amount of H20 dispensed in any given use? Perhaps that is the goal, but it seems to have the opposite effect, for all the reasons stated above. Rather than turning on the faucet, using precisely the amount of water I need, and immediately shutting it off, I am forced to hit the button repeatedly until the flow-time exceeds that which is actually necessary for proper washing. There’s no way to time it exactly, so one must choose excess. And, more than once, I have seen a faucet become stuck and remain flowing for significant amounts of time, with whoever was using it long since having departed the room. Had those responsible for designing the bathrooms done a poll, would they really have found anyone who prefers this type of fixture? I’m doubtful, and even more so that a majority would have chosen the contraption. C’mon, people! Get with the flow!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Survey Says...

I was petitioned to participate in the following survey. I've been a bit slow getting around to it, and I've had to do it piecemeal rather than in one sitting (not that that should affect anything). Anyway, here goes...

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, and find line 4. - On the 18th page, the 4th line says:
Page 18 is blank. On page 19, the 4th line (in its entirety, nothing more nor less) reads, "terranean basin, extending deep into the lands traveled by Herodotus". Is that really what I'm supposed to type or is it the 4th sentence? If it's the latter, then it reads, "The legions who quaked under the pharaoh, or the multitudes who scratched out a living from the soil of Persian kings, also experienced the world as a precarious place, served up by their social betters and delivered from on high."

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What can you touch?
Nothing if I go straight out to the left. Otherwise, there is plenty within reach--a telephone, the book I used for question #1, my glasses, a water bottle, and miscellaneous work forms.

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?
NBC's Last Comic Standing. It's somewhat of a crock, as they blatantly choose their participants not based on how funny they are but based on how diverse their personalities seem to be. Some of the comedians that have made it so far are laaaame. Other comedians were much better, but apparently too "normal" to convince the producers they would make for good television. It's irksome.

4. Without looking, guess what time it is.
6:50 a.m.

5. Now look at the clock. What is the actual time?
6:28 a.m. Dang it! But I should have known because the call volumes haven't picked up quite yet (yes, I'm doing this portion of the survey at work--shame on me).

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?
The staccato typing of other customer service representatives, the low-chirps of certain buttons being pushed on our work phones, and the rote sympathies of my co-workers as they try to appease displeased customers.

7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing?
I stepped all the way to my car at 5:00 a.m. so I could come to work and utilize my highly-developed customer service skills.

8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at?
Um, the Blogger log-in screen I s'pose.

9. What are you wearing?
A dark blue button-up plaid shirt with a white t-shirt underneath, khaki pants, socks, shoes, a watch, a wedding ring, my unmentionables, and a beard.

10. Did you dream last night?
Probably. Nothing's coming to mind at the moment.

11. When did you last laugh?
Within the last 12 hours, I'm sure. Well, I've fake laughed plenty of times already today, but that's all part of my bonafide customer service skills (as mentioned in question #7).

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?
Fire alarms and clocks.

13. Seen anything weird lately?
My cousin, aka Aunt Grandma.

14. What do you think of this quiz?
I think I'd rather fill it out than do my job, which I'm coming pretty close to doing.

15. What is the last film you saw?
I saw a decent amount of Mission: Impossible III but I fell asleep. I saw The Break-Up in its entirety, and I wish I had fallen asleep and spared myself the agony.

16. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy?
A new car (see here), a new computer (see here), a nice home in Atlanta so I could do away with the apartment search (yes, I'd still go to school), probably some new clothes, several CDs, and some good meals. Those would be my impulse purchases.

17. Do you like to dance?
Not for money or praise.

What happened to 18 & 19? Good question. Well wait, is that question #18 or #19???

20. George Bush:
I think this is a finish-the-sentence type of thing. Hopefully I edited the question correctly. Anyway, George Bush is ... the president. Um, I'm really not into politics so I probably don't have much to say. I know it's crazy not to have strong opinions on him one way or the other. I've heard enough that I feel less comfortable with his presidency than I'd like to, which is sad. But I'm also sure he gets plenty of underserved flack, as would almost any president (or public figure, for that matter).

21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?
Well, I've been calling her Eddie because she has a penis. If it weren't for the whole penis thing, Melanie and I would probably have named her Aislyn (hey readers, there's been some discrepencies with how people say that name when they read it. Decide how you'd pronounce "Aislyn" and, if you can, sound it out in the comments. I really want to know how many people get it right -- currently, we're running at about 50-50).

#22 is also missing, eh?

23. Would you ever consider living abroad?
I would. I think it would be a really cool experience, though I'm not adventurous enough to live somewhere that isn't highly westernized. Europe or Australia works, but that's probably about it.

24. What do you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gate?
Welcome home.

25. Four or Five people who must also do this quiz in THEIR journal:
I hate to be a party pooper, but I really don't like forcing these things on anyone. This is probably because I doubt most people would comply, but by all means feel free if you're interested. There's probably only four or five of you reading this anyway...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Still Sucking it Up

The carpet cleaners did show up on Friday, albeit ten minutes after I called to check on them. They sucked more water out of the carpet, sprayed it with some kind of deodorizer, and set up fans to help dry the various rooms. It’ll be this afternoon before they do the real, hardcore cleaning. And let’s hope it is hardcore, because, despite the efforts made on Friday, the stench has swelled and taken over our home. It’s vicious. Melanie and I have taken to living with her parents for the time being, and if the smell doesn’t improve we’re thinking it may be time to abandon ship. That’d save us a few months of rent before heading to Atlanta, but I don’t suppose Fartblow (the management) will be too keen on letting us end our lease early. But can they really deny us if the place is unlivable? They probably can, dang them…

Otherwise, all things considered, it’s been a good weekend. With all efforts being made to stay away from our apartment, Melanie and I have enjoyed a life of dining out, hanging out with family, and seeing a handful of movies. We even hit the drive-in on Saturday—always a fun experience despite the guarantee that I’ll sleep through the second half of the requisite double feature. This playtime has been good for us, as we’re beginning to realize all the things we’ll miss about our hometown and striving to cram it all into the few remaining weeks we have (which really are few, given that Li’l Eddie is less than four weeks away from his “Best if Born By…” date). Speaking of movies, one thing we’ll certainly miss is the Broadway Centre Cinemas, Salt Lake City’s only major independent movie house. If not for the independent film, we’ll lament the loss of a treat we’ve only recently discovered at this theater: RitterSport Cornflakes in Milk Chocolate. These little German delicacies really help accentuate the positive, and by positive I mean popcorn. Should you find such fancy-shmancy candy at your local theater, I heartily urge you to splurge.

As for tonight, Melanie and I are hoping for a quiet evening at home. Let’s hope this will be possible. Feel free to pray for me, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Atheists alike. In the meantime I’ll be crossing my fingers and plugging my nose…

Friday, June 09, 2006

Not Again!

My new old job continues to hinder my presence in the blogosphere. For three weeks or so, I have not even looked at other people’s blogs, much less written something for my own. Computer problems and Melanie being off-track and always available have further directed my attention away from Blogger. But, as bad luck would have it, I’ve had to stay home from work today for yet another flooding on the home front and, thus, I have the time and motivation to gripe write.

This flood was the worst one ever (sad that I’d have to note this) in terms of magnitude, but it fortunately did not damage anything irreplaceable. The culprit is my upstairs neighbor, the one whose child runs back-and-forth at all hours of the day, causing Melanie and me to have a shameful death wish against the kid. Ever since this family moved in, the upstairs garbage disposal has turned our kitchen sink into a fountain of sorts. It’s never done anything very horrible until last night, however. Melanie and I came home and found our kitchen completely saturated. The water spread well through the hallway, into the bedroom (especially the closet), and also into the living room. The worst of it is the soggy carpet smell, which now, once again, permeates the air. Someone came over last night and vacuumed up an incredible amount of water, but nowhere near enough to prevent the stench. Carpet cleaners are supposed to be here sometime today, though I’m beginning to worry I’ll have to call and remind them this is supposed to be the case. They told me it would be around noon, and it’s now going on 1pm without any word from anyone. Anyway, the plumber who came by this morning told me the flood occurred because the people upstairs are using their garbage disposal as a trash can, putting all kinds of food down it and, subsequently, clogging the pipes. When they ran their dishwasher last night, the pipes had finally become impassable and the water ended up in the areas of my apartment that I’ve already mentioned. As I’ve also said before—no more bottom-floor apartments for me.

In better news, I’m feeling okay about my job although there’s always plenty of inconsistencies and lacking judgement on the part of both the customers and my superiors that can become quite agitating. It’s good to know it won’t last long. Over Memorial Day weekend, Melanie and I went on an awesome mini-vacation that I’ll have to write about, not that it involved anything or took place anywhere particularly noteworthy. And, of course, there’s the fact that I’m going to be a father very shortly, a fact with which I’ve teased my readers but have kept in the dark otherwise. I’m sure you’re all brimming with excitement to hear more about that—and you will. That should give me plenty to write about now that my schedule may be easing up just a tad. I know I’ve promised posts before and failed, but I truly believe I’ll at least drop a line or two more regularly now. With Melanie having gone back to teaching, I’ll have at least an hour or two everyday when I’m sitting home alone with nothing to do. If I’m not reading blogs, I’ll probably be writing one. Stay tuned, as always…