Friday, October 15, 2004

That Guy. Who knew?

I must have pulled off a dozen “That Guy” moments last night. It was amazing, in a very sad, sad, sad… but ALIVE sort of way.

When I got off work (left early, at 5pm, word), I was beyond irritated. I was raging to the point of being unproductive. One cannot be expected to execute a specific set of complex tasks effectively while outraged at the existence of the tasks themselves. I would compare it to being asked to “properly” raise someone else’s pack of rabid wolves. I’m no wolf, these issues are fucking uselessly rabid, and “proper” is so beyond vague that it will only serve to piss me off (rather than give me a goal to aim for). Blah-blah-blah, suffice to say: I was extremely irritable. So I decided to go for a run to work out the stress.

Three sweaty miles and two levels of body odor later, I remember that I am supposed to meet up with Dan and Sophie for a drink at Deville. It was already 6:30 at that point. Dan and Sophie are absolutely fantastic people. Just hanging around them puts you in a better mood. All smiles. They were heading to the Busta Rhymes concert at 8pm, and I had agreed to a pre-show happy-hour thing to see them off. I did not intend to pay twenty bucks to see Busta bust his same ol’-same ol’, but I had not seen them in almost a month. Had to go to Deville.

Parked my ride on a steep side street around the corner from Deville, put up my parking break (noting to myself how seldom I use it), took off my sweaty jogging shorts and shamelessly got out of the car. “That Guy” moment 1: I was that guy who you periodically see out in public, in his boxers, looking about all nervous like a pervert. But I just wanted to wear my pants instead, which would better house all my pocket-filling possessions. I have to be standing to put on my pants, right? Whatever. After clothing my sweaty self, I wandered into Deville, smelling like eau de suwetsoque. Dan and Soph were outside with two friends of theirs. We started drinking. The other two friends jetted, and Dan bought a few lemon…ish shots.

Dan was persistent about me attending the concert, plying me with evil liquor. I gladly took the booze, and held out until he offered me a free ticket. Word. I was willing to go… for free. That would be worth it. So we downed our drinks, shot some shots, and headed to Austin Music Hall, racing the booze in my blood. We arrived and parked LONG before I was fully marinated.

In the front of the line: Sophie and a friend of hers. I suck with names. Dan and I jumped the barricade that housed the line and got right up front with them. I remember two little asian girls looking at me, with the eyes of grand disappointment, as my nuts cracked on the top of the railing when I tried to hurtle it with one jump. They hated me the way business hates tax. “That Guy” moment 2: I jumped into the very front of a long, well established line. I hate that fucking guy. I always have. And as it should be, security hates that fucking guy too. I was removed from my spot and placed at the rear (Dan muscled his way through and was not detained). While in line, the booze in my veins spread like fungus, and I began to pickle. By the time I was being frisked at the front, I was completely plowed. “That Guy” moment 3: that fucking guy, who is in line (baseball game, ATM, grocery store, Drivers’ License, whatever line) by himself, and is almost too drunk to stand. That guy sucks\rocks. Whatever lines I joined after that: I was that fucking guy.

Once inside, the concert was doing its thing. We shot Jager and what not, throwing a few cans of shit beer between, just for good measure. Soon, I was taking on a variety of other obnoxious “That Guy” personas:

Moment 4: that dumbass that shouts “words” really loud during a concert, even though they don’t know any of the lyrics. Shut the hell up, will you? No.
Moment 5: that irritating louse who smokes in a NO SMOKING establishment (I was asked four times by security to cut it the fuck out).
Moment 6: that really stoned-looking hippy guy at the concerts who ends up dancing with no one, in the back rows of the crowd. He always creeps me out. I’m sure I was creepy.
Moment 7: that rude motherfucker who plows ALL the way up to the front of the concert crowd, cigarette and beer in hand (cigs NOT allowed), smiling and laughing the whole goddamned way. Yep. Gimme a medal, I earned it.

When it was apparent that there would be no encore, we all staggered out to the parking lot. Dan, Sophie and their friend took off. It was only 10:30, and there was no way I was manning a vehicle. I needed food. So I set off to find some.

“That Guy” moment 8: that staggering-drunk fool, wandering about, apparently without aim, that you see meandering on the sidewalk of some dark side street as you cruise past. You know the one, that guy who you always wagered was one of the “newer” homeless drunks? “Oh, he’ll look as bad as those others pretty soon.” Yeah, that’s what I looked like. Classic.

I made my way to Katz’s (never Kloses!… or spells properly) and got a seat in what used to be the smoking section. Here in Austin, there was an ordinance passed sometime this summer (without my approval), which barred smoking from just about everywhere. Unbeknownst to me, Katz’s is within the reach of this ordinance. “That Guy” moment 9: that inconsiderate SOB that smokes in the NO SMOKING section. Technically, I was that guy twice. When I was told to put out my second smoke, I did so in the remainder of my food, per the waiter’s request. What a crock. No smoking at Katz’s? Jesus, come back and reclaim this shit-hole for your own.

While at Katz’s, I managed to wrangle a nice woman into conversation. She was busy with some paperwork at an adjacent table, and I was bored (and steam-grinning drunk). So I leaned over and introduced myself. Cool lady. Somewhere near my parents’ age. She works with the Victims’ Unit at the Sheriff’s Office as a volunteer counselor. Her husband passed away a couple years back and she is in the process of finding her own groove. Very easy to talk to. She didn’t seem to mind that I was completely obliterated, partially incoherent, and smoking in a NON SMOKING restaurant. Her name was Patti, I believe. But my memory is utter sheeeeeeite, especially when the memory is Jager-soaked. Good soul on that lady.

I left Patti at Katz’s and wandered around the streets for another couple of hours, thinking, considering, pondering. I got home after midnight and immediately went to sleep.

“That Guy” moment 10: when I got into my truck this morning to go to work, the fucking parking brake was still up. It had been engaged since De-fucking-Ville. I used to make fun of that guy. Fuck it. I think I still will. Sometimes, I redefine “dumbass” downward.

Not a dozen moments, but ten is still not respectable. Man, sometimes, I think I love life too much.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Laying, in my bed, thinking...

Ever feel like you are settling in to adulthood, much too fast? As if, perhaps, going to bed before 2am, sober, in your own bed, on a Wednesday night is still a bit too “adult” an activity for you? Shit, I know I feel that way. I did last night as I was desperately trying to force myself to sleep at midnight.

You see: I, like most I know, am a night person (Ava is definitely a night person). Waking up before 10am requires bright sunlight (on de face en in de eye), and the loudest alarm clock available in western markets (set for 7:30am, and it goes off for two hours, until I finally get the fuck up) – I think mine has a subwoofer. I do not perform well in the morning. Never have. And I don’t intend to make an honest go of it any time soon. But, I have a job which requires me to be “available for bothering” before 9am. This is problematic for me, and for my employer.

I am notoriously late for said job. And they have started to take notice. So, I am trying to get my sorry ass in there on time, just to smooth out the only relationship in my life which pays me money. Those I owe prefer I make money to pay them. I prefer to keep those I owe from breaking into my crib while I sleep to covet all my favorite belongings, which might include my most useful limbs. Don’t fuck with Home Depot Credit. They have sharp power tools, and a small army of developmentally disabled cart-gatherers who could easily serve as “collectors”. Armed with those power tools.

I am so going to hell for that. Hate if you want.

Work bullshit aside, I NEEDED to get up on time this morning. So, at 1am, I was hopelessly staring at my shadowed ceiling and feeling stupid for trying to sleep when I was not tired… and got to thinking (damn you brain!).

What if my twenty year-old self were to give an interview with my thirty year-old self? Not that I am a grand person now, but I was… difficult, to put it mildly, when I was twenty: fiercely independent and irreversibly sure of myself in every way. I have since learned to be humble, sometimes. I have not decided whether being humble is beneficial or not. But I don’t think the two of me would get along very well. Yes, that might be interesting…

20: So. Craig. You’re thirty now.
30: Yup. You aren’t yet. And you made me a smoker you little fucker.
20: Whatever gramps. I’m doing the interview here so smoke a dick and speak only after spoken to. Think you can handle that?
30: I forgot how little I liked me when I was you.
20: Nice. Keep it up and I won’t help you empty your colostomy bag.
30: Christ. Cocky little shit. You got any questions for me or what?
20: Right. Questions. Just for the record, I’d like to say this is really gay, and I don’t see the point of this exercise.
30: God, it is just like me, back then, to say some nay-say bullshit like that. Just read the fucking questions junior.
20: Alright, alright. First off, what is up with the full fucking beard? You livin’ in the woods or some shit? Eh, Grizzly Adams? Gone Muslim or some shit?
30: I’m lazier nowadays. What’s with that chin-strap of a beard-line you’re sporting there? Think you’re black? LL Cool Craig or some shit? HA! Ha! Ha… Oh wait, I liked that look. Damnit, me. Errr…
20: So, are you gay now or what?
30: No. Wouldn’t you be gay if I were?
20: No. My pants don’t “fit” like yours do.
30: What the hell is that supposed to mean? That doesn’t even make sense. I forgot how often you say the word "gay". How annoying.
20: You were me, so you know what I am saying. Stop with the questions, you’re fucking this all up. You stay home on some Fridays, do you not?
30: Sure. Sometimes a brutha just doesn’t feel like staying out all night. Sometimes I’d rather read, write, or do my fucking taxes. Sometimes I mow the goddamn lawn instead of drinking myself stupid! Sometimes, sometimes goddamnit, I am just… plain… tired. And I would rather sleep… I guess.
20: A little defensive on that one. You need to calm down. Bring your meds, Old Man River?
30: I knew you would say that.
20: Your girlfriend is fine. Why did you wait so damn long to catch that?
30: You. I blame you. You are incapable of impressing such a woman. That’s why.
20: Good answer. Asshole. Now what is a typical Wednesday night like for you nowadays? Hitting the drinking holes? Breaking into houses? Nightlife in Rio De Janeiro? Hustling pool games or what?
30: Staring at my ceiling, trying to force myself to sleep, to help me get up on time, so that I am not late for a third day in a row, thereby helping maintain an office job that would bore the hell out of cactus plant.
20: Serious? Hmmm… Do we really need to get older for that? I mean, I could do that shit now, if I wanted.
30: Good point. But I make a-lot more money than you would. Plus, you’re a dick. Hustling is all you’re really cut out for right now.
20: You were a dick. I would say you haven’t gotten very far. I bet you’re hustling now.
30: If I were hustling, would I be stressing over whether or not I would be able to cart my lazy ass into an air-conditioned job before 9am?
20: If that were my hustle, then that’s what I’d want everyone else to think. You know, that I cared and shit. Bored cactus? Fuck man, there’d have to be an angle. I'm starting to think you fucked me all up.
30: I knew I’d say that. Now shut up. This interview is officially over. I’m trying to sleep over here… cocky fucker. Damned… cactus.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Oooohhhh, MORE Sharks...

This is the shit right here:

Monterey Bay Aquarium has a Great White pup.

For those of you who don't know, I have a strong interest in the apex predators of the deep. They scare the living bejeezus out of me, and I cannot get enough of it. This GW pup, in captivity, for me to see, is cooler than a weekend in Bangkok with Master P.

Call me nuts. Thas coo by me.

So anyone going to Monterey any time soon? Let a brutha know!


(tight syncopation, tight scheme... Sean noticed)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Here's to the big 4-0

Apparently, this is post number 40. My how posts fly. To mark the occasion, I will look back at my time here on blogger. A brief retrospective on what I have absorbed in this digispace.

In my weeks of blogging (it is still a relatively new phenomenon for me), I have learned a few things that may help others to control and contain any potential shitty blogging behavior (not that I have mine under control or anything).

ze' leeeest:

1) Not everyone wants to comment on your posts. That should go without saying. Some people just like to read. They have nothing to say to you about whatever you might be rambling about. Besides, most people do not post in a way that invites comments. Without questions, you will get no answers. Blah blah blah.

2) Not everyone wants you to comment on their posts. Some people are really touchy about this. Especially if they don't know you. I know, I know: if they make their blog public, then they should expect strangers to run across and read it. If they are interesting, then they should expect some feedback. Right? Well, not everyone looks at it that way. Some bloggers are more similar to that old man in your childhood neighborhood, yelling at you to "get the hell off" his lawn. Almost like a graffiti artist who won't allow photos. Weird. Takes all kinds I guess.

3) Posting everyday is not necessary. Some seem to think that they MUST post everyday. Well, this just waters the whole thing down. Trite posts are just that. Trite. If you don't really feel like posting anything, then don't go through all the effort to show me you feel that way. Tomorrow is another day. Maybe you'll have something to say then.

4) Get your photos hosted somewhere. Stories are sooooo much better, and more interesting with visual accompaniment. I am too lazy to do so, but I still recognize the benefits.

5) There are some VERY talented writers in blogland. Some of these fuckers need to be printed. Gooooogle might want to consider a "best of" public blog entries. Some of my favorites are This Chick-Lit site (great fiction site, more of a pseudo-blog), this nice woman from Canada (she is a writer, and that makes sense), this no-nonsense storyteller (his life, and stories, are interesting more for the fact that he goes about it all without apology, without judgment), and My brother (because the wit and care he puts into every sentiment expressed is beyond impressive, and quite possibly beyond us all).

6) Do not post anything out in blogland that you would be embarrassed by if your mother discovered it. Because she will. That's how the interweb works (against you). My advice: make sure you don't care what Mom thinks of you. Yes. Very pleasant.

7) Anonymous posting should definitely be allowed, but moderated. Otherwise, crazed 12-year-old boys will inundate your page with their obnoxious experiments with newfound curse words. No one wants to wade through all that jibbah-jabbah to get to the meat of your posts, so delete that bubbling-hormone-bullshit with extreme prejudice.

More coffee. Less typing.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Cash-Money Drunk Wrong

Yesterday The Rambler asked me about currency valuations, and why the British Pound was so expensive versus the US Dollar. I was in a jovial mood, having had a couple of margaritas, a few Mandarin & Tonics, and three pints of beer… Fuck it: I was slobbering drunk. In my drunken stupor, I gave the most eloquent answer that any Economist worth his salt could give… utter rubbish. A bunch of rambling ramblings for the rambler. Here’s an abbreviated version:

“See, the currency of the country is the productive capacity and the British don’t print any more goddamn pounds - but we do - so our stale economies only compete at the product level, all unaggregated. So the money does things to each and then we joust with our collective pocket change. The pound kicks our ass every time ‘cause there are fewer of them around, but they’re much meaner. Then of course that old World War II and Hitler, that asshole. So the Dollar falls like so many turds from a goats hairy ass.”

Yes. If you can weave Hitler into your philosophic discussion of currency movements (which is always philosophical), it will make whatever point you are hopelessly bludgeoning: immediately and irrefutably valid. Emoted validation… I like it. Kinda clever, in a not-clever-at-all kind of way.

In an effort to somewhat clarify what I MEANT to say in response to the query:

Here is my opinion. It is strictly and only that.

Exchange rates between floating rate countries are decided by supply and demand of the actual representations of the currency (M1 -> M2: paper, coin, demand deposits, bankers’ acceptance, etc). The basic ways to move the relationship between two currencies are: adjust Supply by a reduction or expansion of the actual amount of currency available for foreign purchase, or an adjustment to Demand resulting from an increased/decreased need for foreigners to bother exchanging their currency for yours (to buy your domestically produced products/services, they must buy your currency).

Last night’s explanation, and my theory, is that the British Pound is being kept overvalued by a tight monetary policy imposed by the Brits for the past ten years or so. Having a stagnant economy at the macro level means that their currency is no more in demand today for products than it was ten years ago. In order to keep the value up, relative to other currencies, they have simply kept the amount of Pounds available for trade: scarce. This has helped to “maintain” the intrinsic value of the currency.

The US Dollar, in comparison, is losing intrinsic value. The arguments for and against this idea are everywhere, and good explanations are typically in line for Nobel Prizes so I won’t offend you by trying my hand at a detailed theory. Suffice to say: we don’t actually build as much as we used to (fewer things to sell to foreign interests), and our investment products are really shaky right now (bonds have crap yield, and the US stock market STILL looks overvalued), so no one is banging down our door, begging for US Dollars to buy our stuff (most of our “stuff” is made in India or Mexico anyway) or invest in our markets. Similar to the Pound, Foreign Demand is pretty much static (if not falling, slightly) for the US Dollar.

This would make the two currencies neck-and-neck to garner last place in the currency appreciation competition.

However, the US Dollar is experiencing expansion through huge underwritings to fill orders and financing gaps for various wars and “economic stimulus packages” that are being candied out across the globe. This requires the equivalent of printing money. Not that the government does so literally, but by the Federal Reserve’s underwriting of more government bonds to sell, to raise that capital, it has the effect of expanding the available Dollars for Foreign purchase. So, you have an increasing of Supply without any parity in Demand (still, no one is begging the US for their Dollars), so the value falls relative to other currencies until deals-for-Dollars get struck. The Dollar has to get cheap enough before anyone else bothers to want it.

To make matters worse, the EURO has been eating away at the foundation of the Dollar since the beginning of this decade. After WWII, the US Dollar was the standard prop for the various and sundry currencies issued by every war-ravaged European country. The Europeans essentially traded all their store of value (gold, mainly) for US Dollars to buy US goods and services to rebuild everything. Physical Dollar bills replaced the gold deposits that once backed European currencies. This meant that each individual country’s own currency was dependent upon the strength of the US Dollar (the Dollar Standard vs Gold Standard). Today, the relative strength of the EURO is allowing countries to sell the US all those Dollars back, replacing that store of value with their own currency (and in some cases, probably gold too), which was one of the EU’s main directives in establishing their own currency: to get off the Dollar Standard. Now, the European community has less of a stake (although, still impressive) in the strength of the Dollar, and will not be as eager to prop up its value as it used to be.

That’s the short version. And it is strictly my opinion. Feel free to lash me with fancy facts and whatnot.

Word to the unrelenting hangover.