I am not a foodie. (If you have to paint me in a box go with trekkie.) I know I’ve written about food a lot lately. It’s just this naive bleef that we have a right to know what we eat. And that increasingly the people who make food are seemingly at cross-purposes to that deceptively simple objective. (And sometimes cross-porpoises but that’s another story.)
Take Taco Bell, for example. (Figuratively, not literally, I hope.) A while back there was a hubbub that Taco Bell’s “seasoned beef” was rumored to be 35% beef and 65% other stuff. (Taco Bell eschews the word “filler.”)
Well, Taco Bell wants you to know the truth. They are proud to announced that their “seasoned beef” product is a whopping 88% beef and only 12% other stuff.
Forget about the daily grind, it’s time for an afternoon party! 88% is pretty damn good! Hot mess good. If only we could achieve that standard for everything in life.
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The first TED conference was in 1984. TED stands for technology, entertainment, and design. Since then, TED has grown in scope. The mission? Spreading ideas.
The official TED website says, “Today, TED is best thought of as a global community. It’s a community welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world.”
I’d seen a few TED videos here and there and always enjoyed them. Then I got an iPod as a bonus at work.
After learning how to work the thing, I discovered that I could use iTunes to automatically get podcasts and have them transferred to my iPod. Once there, I could listen to them any time I wanted, even without wifi.
I quickly loaded up that sucker with all sorts of podcasts like a kid in a candy store. Here’s a list of audio-only content that I’ve signed up for so far:
- American Public Media: The Story
- Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips
- NPR: All Songs Considered
- NPR: Fresh Air Podcast
- Real Time with Bill Maher
- Rob Cesternino has a Podcast
- TEDTalks (audio version)
- This American Life
I also signed up for video podcasts like College Humor, Lifehacker, Science Friday and TEDTalks.
Maybe you can already see the problem? I don’t have enough time! Every time I plug in my iPod to charge it, iTunes opens an automatically “syncs” more stuff. There’s no way I can ever watch it all. I’ve heard that every minute something like 18 hours worth of video gets uploaded to YouTube. It would be hard to watch it all.
I guess at some point you have to start making choices.
So now I’m listening to TED on my “ear buds” every chance I get. Mostly when driving to and from work, which is only about 20 minutes a day. But also in other places like the grocery store or waiting in the restaurant to get my food to go. Suddenly I’m not so irritated by having to wait.
The shortage of time to listen is frustrating. The other night I wanted to listen more, so I skipped dinner, slipped on the ear buds and went for a walk. I listened to NPR and heard a story about Seattle Slew, a famous racehorse that won the Triple Crown. (Which I formerly thought was three shots of whiskey.)
By the way, walking is a fantastic negativity activity. Every 20 feet or so is an intersection or driveway. And at every single one of these you’ll encounter something known as a car. These are highly impatient things that try to run over you at these locations. It adds a lot of fun, excitement and challenge to walking.
My goal is to listen to all of the TEDTalks on audio. Not all of them are topics I’d normally find interesting, but I listen just the same. (Like the trials and tribulations of some new parents and their baby. Bah!) But the talks are compelling even when the material is not normally something I’d ever click on. I hit play and get them in no apparent order. I never know what will come next.
During this experience, I’ve also been learning what it is to really listen. I’m constantly amazing myself with my mind’s ability to drift. I’ll catch myself again and again and realize I haven’t really heard the content. I wasn’t paying attention. This is disturbing to say the least. I wonder how often this happens to all of us in all sorts of situations. Life should not be lived on autopilot.
So I decided to work on my active listening skills. If I’m going to play audio, I don’t just want it to be background noise. I want to absorb what’s being said. I have to actively focus and pay proactive attention. This means I can’t listen during certain activities, like work. I can do it when I’m driving but it requires concentration. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to do nothing but sit and listen. That’s why walking is such a great idea. Perhaps working on my fitness while listening to TED is enough “multitasking” for me.
I did try sitting down and listen a few times. Amazingly I’d still find my mind wandering and not paying attention. This takes a bit of effort and discipline. But I do think it is something I’m improving on.
Lastly, to close out this post, I’ve decided that I am going to give a talk at a TED conference someday. Yes, me. I’ve noticed that most of the speakers at TED conferences appear to be “experts” on their subjects, so I’m approaching the goal from that angle. In other words, “What am I expert at?” The obvious answer is “nothing” and I am a “nobody.” Thus, that’s how the topic for my TED talk was born. I’m going to speak about how to be a nobody and do nothing in our modern civilization. I’m a real nowhere man.
If TED permits this, then we’ll truly know if they welcome people from every discipline. 🙂
All sounds were muted since my fallopian tubes (ear canals) were completely filled with snot and I felt like I was swimming underwater. Time had slowed to an interminable crawl and every half hour I checked my watch to see that only three minutes had gone by. Meanwhile my eyeballs started to burn as I tried to look at my computer display.
“Is this Hell?” I asked myself. Every fiber in my being only wanted one thing: To get off work and start the weekend, where, if the Lord would only smile on me, just this once, I’d be well enough to go back to the shit factory by Monday. (I know, what a lofty goal.)
Fast forward to today. I’ve got another week of living Hell under my belt and I found myself back in the exact same situation.
It was the most powerful feeling of deju vu I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.
Home now, I feel slightly better. That alone is enough to make me feel different. Not being at Work has remarkable restorative powers. Sure, my ears are still ringing and my snot is still the color of Nickelodeon slime, but I do actually feel a wee bit better.
I can’t believe the length of time I’ve had this crud. I don’t think I’ve ever been this sick in my entire life. So far 2011 has a shot at the worst year E-V-A-R. I’ve been like this for six weeks now with the current bout lasting 14 full days and still no end in sight.
Somehow I did make it through this week, though. The weekend is here. I will lay low, conserve my energy, ingest my snake oil and placebos, try to sleep as much as I can (epic fail) and try my damnedest not to set one toe outside of the house. I pity the fool who knocks on my door.
By the way, do you know how to tell the difference between effective and ineffective medicine? It’s easy. The shit that has absolutely no effect is the stuff you are allowed buy. This stuff has a code name. It is “Over The Counter” or OTC. There is a huge industry built around selling this fake stuff.
The shit that actually works? That’s the stuff you can’t buy, at least without tithing your physician a Benjamin ($100 bill) and even then there’s only a slight chance he might see things your way and prescribe something that actually works.
If the medical community had any brains at all, they’d put me in an induced coma and wake me up when this shit was over. Now that would be valuable medical treatment.
This week was the ultimate rat-in-a-spinning-wheel experience. Toss and turn and sweat fitfully all night long, where I’d lay awake in bed for hours, staring at the ceiling, then oversleep and find myself with 45 minutes to get ready for work.
I’d run around the house like a madman, skip breakfast, pray to God my car would start, get to work three minutes late, out of breath, then get pounded with the life or death pressures of selling useless crap on the internet.
Then get home when it was already dark, scramble to find something for dinner, then stumble to bed.
There sure is nothing better than being at work especially when you feel like death warmed over. Just the three of us: me, boss and coworker. The holy trinity of cough and snot. Coughing. Blowing our noses. And all in the confined space of a work area smaller than the living room in my house. No privacy and we’re all eating each others germs and phlegm. Yummy!
This week the boss added a new bit of hilarious fun. Sitting at his deck and hocking up loogies, oh God, and then noisily plop-plop-plopping that snot into his goddamn wastebasket under his desk.
Seriously. Is this Hell? If it is, can I at least have the courtesy of a little confirmation?
There was one bit of a bright spot this week, though. (I’ll go ahead and wait while you pick yourself up off the floor.)
I was able to jump off the rat race and get off work early a few days and briefly disrupt the vicious cycle. I came straight home and fell into bed. I wanted nothing out of life more than just fall asleep, which of course turned out to be the single thing which was denied to me. Funny how it works out that way. Even when sick I can’t nap. I did consider quaffing a bottle of tequila but somehow even in my condition I knew that would be a damn lame thing to do, even to get a few minutes of sleep.
What I discovered during these brief periods of rat race interruption, quite by accident, is something I’m calling The Nothing Hour. Lo and behold, this is quite the revelation. The idea is this: No matter what is going on in your life, you step outside of your normal bullshit rut (which is so deep you can hang posters) and do nothing for one motherfucking hour. Every day. No matter what.
That’s it. That’s the whole deal.
I’ve found that it works wonders. It’s like, “OMFG! What a strange sensation! What is this feeling? What is this doing nothing shit?”
This isn’t for the weak. The first couple of times I tried it the feelings were so alien they almost killed me.
Stop and smell the roses? Bah! Sure, do that, only skip the rose smelling part. Just do nothing!
My plan is to take an hour for nothing every single day for the rest of my life. And I’ll always carry a rocket launcher on my person to be used on anyone who attempts to fuck with my Nothing Hour.
This may very well be my greatest discovery yet. Greater than the GPS Dildo. Even greater than the Advent Calendar of the Seven Seals. Maybe I’ll get a trademark on this.
Of course, it goes without saying, even during The Nothing sacred time, somehow The Snot is still there. Fucking party crasher.
Hello Abyssimites. (Mind if I call you that?)
I got absolutely nothing ready for today, so as a consequence you will all be asked to suffer interminably. Mwuhahaha.
First, I tried a random Wikipedia page for inspiration. That brought up an educational page regarding the Tajikistani presidential election, 1999. That was seriously a big time goat cluster. I mean 98 percent turnout is pretty good but one guy won with 96 percent of the vote. Even Bush wasn’t that greedy. But I keed, I keed. I’d never even heard of Tajikistani before. So I read up on the country a bit and it’s fairly interesting and I did find this really cool photo of the Fan Mountains on Wikipedia. It is incredibly beautiful there.
Other than that, I only have one other special treat for y’all today. Grab your hurl buckets and listen to the vintage sounds of yours truly crooning on this track from my extremely rare CD. (Only one copy was ever sold.) It’s an auto-biographical melody that I wrote, performed vocals and produced called “Wrongful Life.” It tells the story of a reluctant fetus. I don’t remember the original release date but I think it was in the late 1990’s or so. Enjoy!