Could never be a criminal

For years now I’ve had this one story about why I can never be a criminal. Now I have two, and I need to share them both before I forget.

I attended college twice, once in the eighties and again in the nineties where I went back to upgrade my skills.

In the eighties I wore t-shirts and a ragged sports jacket with jeans and runners. I was young. I was also clean shaven and had long hair down to the middle of my back. My name at the time was Joel Bush.

By the time I returned in the nineties I had a beard and shaved my head. I wore button down shirts, a leather jacket, and combat boots. I had also changed my last name to Palenychka, the name I was born with. I was married and had tattoos on my arms. I’d also gained something like fifty pounds.

The first day back in college I walked across the street to the little convenience store that’s been there for decades. The very moment I walked in the clerk recognized me and asked if I was there for my usual diet coke.

It was at that moment that I realized I could never be a criminal. The witness would have to be completely blind to be unable to pick me out of a police lineup.

A few days ago at work I had a customer come up to the till with his liquor purchase and he gave me a real odd look.

“Don’t I know you from somewhere?”

His face didn’t ring any bells for me so I just kind of half shrugged.

“Is your name Joel?”

I looked down at my name tag. There was no denying it so I nodded.

“You ever work at McDonalds?”

I laughed at that and said “Not for over thirty years. Not since I was a kid.”

He nodded and said “Yeah, yeah, that’s where I know you from! We worked at McDonalds together, in Marlborough.”

He then gave me his name and I remembered it, although his face wasn’t as familiar. He mentioned a few other names and they rang faint bells but I couldn’t remember what they’d looked like.

This is just further confirmation that I could never succeed as a criminal. Shave my head, grow a beard, change my clothes, gain a hundred pounds, and give me a bunch of tattoos, and people will still recognize me thirty five years later.

What’s in the bag?

One of the sexist stereotypes about women is that their purses contain everything short of the kitchen sink. I can’t support that. I’ve known women who walk out of their home without anymore more than their keys and their debit card. I’ve also known women who can’t conceive of leaving their houses without a sack big enough to carry a corgi full of random stuff.

And then there’s my backpack.

I often feel self conscious about bringing my backpack with me everywhere I go because a) I know so many people who don’t need to bring half their household items with them when they go out and b) I grew up with the above sexist attitude surrounding me and constantly worried how men would judge me.

I’m slightly less concerned with point “b” these days, but it still colors my self doubt. But one thing is certain: Any time I leave home without my backpack I end up wishing I had it with me. As inconvenient and slightly embarrassing as it’s presence can be, it does hold a lot of useful things.

This whole thing was sparked by a simple question I saw somewhere in my social media stream: what do you have in your backpack?
In mine I currently have:

  • Two notebooks. One is nearly full and I hate running out of paper in mid sentence. Once I switch over to the new notebook I’ll file the filled one away on my bookshelf.
  • My tablet. I use this primarily to read books. It doesn’t have a data plan and only works through wifi. Its case folds into a stand that allows me to read while eating. I was always warned that if I ate while eating I would always want to eat while reading. I’ve found the opposite to be true. If I’m eating alone it’s impossible for me to eat without something to read.
  • One large-ish cotton napkin, tucked into the bottom. It serves as backup for the handkerchief I keep in my pocket. It also serves as backup napkin. Mostly, however, I’ve kept one in the bottom of my backpack to absorb any accidental spills I have in there. It has served me well in the past to protect my tablet and my notebook(s).
  • Spare keys. My backpack has a key ring attached to the inside of one of the pockets. It detaches with one of those ubiquitous backpack clips. It also means I always have an extra set of house keys available. I’ve kept it in my backpack ever since that one day I actually managed to lose a set of keys somewhere between work and home. A friend had to drive in from out of town to let me into my home. Now I have the spare set and a friend within walking distance with another extra set.
  • Flashlight. This has helped me effect motorcycle and car repairs in the middle of the night. It also allows me to walk down my back alley at night without tripping in the many, MANY pot holes we have back there. I have no idea why our alley is unlit, but it’s like a post apocalyptic landscape back there.
  • My multi-tool. I have a Leatherman that folds out into a large pair of pliers, among a dozen or so other tools. It has served me really well for years. I should get a replacement, though, as a couple of the tools are damaged or missing. But I’ve used it so often I always keep it with me. It was particularly handy when I worked in shipping.
  • Assorted pens. Mostly bic. I try to keep one good pen in my shirt pocket at all time, but I sometimes forget. Or sometimes that pen will run dry. Or go missing. So I keep a handful of backups in the backpack.
  • Pencil, eraser, and sharpener. This is for gaming. You do a lot of erasing and re-writing in gaming.
  • My glass case with my glasses. Ever since I lost my most treasured pair of glasses out of my coat pocket I have become much more mindful of keeping my current set in something less open. Man I miss those glasses. The frames were such a perfect fit, and I wore them for so long, that my temples gradually wore away the enamel on the inside of the arms.
  • Small pack of “get out of hell” cards. I give them out to people who’re having a bad day. Sometimes I’ll leave them in random locations for people to find.
  • One pencil case that does not contain any pens or pencils. Instead it contains a number of small, useful items that would get lost in the backpack if I didn’t keep them in the pencil case. In it I have:
    • Antihistamines and Dristan. I’m allergic to, well, life in general. These keep me breathing.
    • Assorted bandaids. I’m clumsy.
    • Eyeglass cleaning fluid
    • Lip balm

Other things I might have depending on my mood:

  • Pipe, tobacco, lighter, and cleaning implements
  • Thermos of water
  • A random selection of food
  • Dice
  • Laptop and various attachments

I’m hard on my backpacks. The one I currently have is only about three years old and the straps are starting to come detached at the shoulder. I’ll probably have to invest in another one soon.

So, yeah… if it’s a given stereotype that women keep massive bags full of stuff on their person, then I guess I’m just one of the girls. Otherwise I’m a nerd turtle who keeps half his house on his back in case he needs it.

Too much of a good thing?

TV exec on Arrow: “Y’know what, kids really like this archery thing. Let’s add more archers to the show.”
 
TV exec on Flash: “Y’know what, kids really like this speedster thing. Lets add more speedsters to the show.”
 
TV exec on Supergirl: “Y’know what, kids really like this Super thing. Let’s add more Supers to the show.”
 
Can someone please fire this guy already?

Godzilla as it was meant to be: rubbery

Went to a movie tonight. Since I was already planning on heading to the theater I decided to make a night of it and treat myself. Eau Claire has a somewhat limited food court, but it does include a Taco Time. Every once in a while I get a craving for a good meat and bean burrito and Taco Time can satisfy. Besides, their Tater Tots are crack with hot sauce.

Sadly, even though I got there before six, Taco Time was already closed. I wound up settling for, and being immensely disappointed by, some Chinese food. It was barely sauced jerky with rice so old and dry it had returned to it’s original crunchy form. As I gagged my way through my meal I noted some others in the food court area.

It wasn’t hard to pick out the Godzilla crowd. Most of us don’t come out into the open air much. Luckily the film was timed such that the sun was already down. As I moved on to the theater the density of the geek intensified. It’s been a long time since I’d immersed myself that deep in the geek.

I got my ticket and popcorn and picked a seat somewhere near the middle towards the back. As I waited for others to arrive a couple of fellows sat down behind me, evidently winded from the long climb up the inactive escalator. Honestly, why have an escalator in a mall if you’re just going to shut it off?

It quickly became apparent as the fellows wheezed and bellowed behind me that at least one of them had some seriously horrible breath. I don’t know what he’s suffering from, whether it be half a mouthful of rotting teeth or a literal Hellmouth opening in his esophagus, but it put me off my popcorn for most of the evening.

Luckily for me when James arrived he picked his own seat and texted his location. I used that as a convenient excuse to retreat from the noxious green cloud.

The movie… the movie was, as James pointed out, about 90% bureaucracy and 10% rubber suit guy kicking chunks of a fairly decently modeled Tokyo around. Some of the light effects were impressive, but not much different from special effects of the seventies.

The movie was bad in a way that made me wish we were watching it in someone’s living room where sarcastic comments would have been welcome.

The particular quirk of this Godzilla movie was the discovery that it evolved and mutated on the spot. It went through four different iterations before settling on it’s final form.

It's first form doesn't have forelegs and it just shoves it's way around the floor.

It’s first form doesn’t have forelegs and it just shoves it’s way around the floor.

The first form reminded me of a cat caught in a sandal, but scales and an expressionless fish head.

Other noteworthy rules of the movie:
1) In Japan it’s important to weigh your future political aspirations while making decisions about a giant monster laying waste to your city. You don’t want to close off future avenues of advancement.
2) American daughters, particularly those born in Japan and raised in the US, have almost incomprehensible accents, bad enough that I was thankful for the subtitles during the English speaking parts as well.
3) If you REALLY want to blow something up, call an American. Then complain bitterly when those same Americans insist that the next stage from aerial bombardment is, clearly, the largest nuclear weapon they can get ready in 24 hours.

Leaving the theater I realized I had downed all my drink but ate less than a third of my popcorn. It’s official. I’m old. There was a time, not long ago, where I ran the risk of finishing my popcorn off before the opening credits were done.