Thursday, January 24, 2013

Grim reaper with sombrero

I am often amused and baffled at the searches people conduct on Google that lands them on my microscopic piece of the Web. Apparently not one, but two people ended up at Dizgraceland while searching for "grim reaper with sombrero." Up until now, I have never written a post about a grim reaper with sombrero. So it just goes to show you that search engines do the best that they can with odd searches, but don't always deliver what you intended to look for.

 It's kind of like playing fetch with your dog. You throw a stick and sometimes they bring back a dead animal. Maybe not the best analogy.

 I don't claim to understand why someone would search for "grim reaper with sombrero." I think it may have something to do with a tattoo or motorcycle gang symbol. But if you do type "grim reaper with sombrero" in Google, you won't find the exact phrase, but it will pull up pages that use those words. And one of those was a series of my blog archives from 2011 where I talked about turning 53 and going to a Mexican restaurant where they would place a sombrero on my head and sing a Spanish version of "Happy Birthday." On that same page was a post about me putting my face on images of the grim reaper and calling them the "Tim Reaper." I don't think that was really what the searchers were looking for.

 It makes me wonder what we did before the Internet and Google when we wanted to uncover some obscure information. It wasn't like you could just drop by the public library and ask the reference librarian if they had any books about "grim reaper with sombrero." Though in the years I worked in a public library I heard some pretty bizarre requests.

 I for one don't know how we managed to do anything before there was the Internet. I forget how I found a hotel to stay at, purchased music, communicated with friend and family or found out what was going on in the world at any given second. I'm thinking of printing up t-shirts and bumper stickers that say, "I'll be wired until I've expired."

 Anyway, here's to all you random searchers. Without you I'd feel so alone.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


The universal "they" say that clothes make the man. It is unfortunately sad, but true. Every day I walk by people on the seedy streets on the fringe of Seattle's International District and shake my head in wonder at the uniforms people don to express themselves.

It's not that I am a fashion plate hot (or cold) off the pages of GQ. I'm definitely not. I tend to wear whatever makes me blend in, not stand out. Oh, in my younger days I tried making statements with my clothing and hair styles. I have many embarrassing "what was I thinking" photos to prove it. But middle age has taught me that trying to dress young simply makes you look absurd, not hip.

I imagine I've ranted about middle aged men trying to stay young by dressing the way they did in their 20s before. Although I admit to sporting a pony tail and pierced ears as a young man, I wouldn't be caught dead with either now (which becomes a very real risk as I pass middle age).

I defend my tattoo as art, however. Not that I can do much about it at this point. At least I can cover it up. And it is on my arm if you must know.

What triggered this random train of thought about people's personal uniforms was ironically my commute on the train last Monday (in between the train being cancelled by mud slides).  We were just a few minutes out of Seattle when a man came down from the train car's upper level to use the rest room on the main level. He looked as though he had just stepped out of a Marlboro commercial. He had one of those cowboy duster jackets on, a Stetson hat, jeans and big belt buckle with what looked like a steer on it. He also had a handlebar mustache.  He looked like someone who was going to rob the train rather than ride it.

It dawned on me that this was this guy's uniform. I doubt whether it occurred to him that there was anything odd about it. And there wouldn't have been anything odd about it if we were riding a commuter train in Montana. It is just that Seattle doesn't have a lot of cows to wrangle.

I would rather see a middle aged cowboy uniform than the gang banger wanna be's that populate the sidewalks outside my building. I will never get used to the stupidity of wearing pants that are ten times too big for you and letting them bunch around your knees to expose boxers. I see these guys shuffling along holding up their pants looking like a bad parady of a Tim Conway comedy sketch (very few of you will get this reference) and wonder what could they possibly be thinking.

The answer is that they aren't thinking. They are simple stuck trying to project something about themselves by donning what they think is a unique uniform. God only knows what kind of delusion they conjure up when they look into the mirror. To me they simply look like pathetic clowns.

In addition to the cowboy on the train there has also been a group of what I believe are art students riding to downtown Seattle. I assume they are art students because they all dress in black and wear what we used to refer to as "hot pants" but with tights (mainly the girls). They all look about 12, but I imagine they are in the 17 or 18 year old range since anyone under 30 looks 12 to me.  Other than being either shorter or taller than each other, they all look alike.

The point is that they fancy themselves as looking unique but they are dressed alike. So they are essentially sheep to fashion like everyone else, albeit black-clad sheep.

My advice to people who want to celebrate your uniqueness? Don't try to express your uniqueness through fashion. You don't stand out, you stick out or worse: disappear in a sea of unique wannabee's.

It's okay to march to the beat of a different drummer, just make sure the drummer is playing with both sticks.

I haven't a clue what that means.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Petty little cacophonies

One of my pet peeves is people who make annoying (and often disgusting) noises, oblivious to anyone around them. It is a cacophony that weighs heavily on my OCD nature.

I'm not sure why anyone would keep a peeve as a pet. They aren't very cute and cuddly (though they don't puke on the carpet or pee on my daughter's bed like our cats).

But I digress.

There is just something obsessively distracting about snorts, sniffing, wheezing, excessive throat clearing, hacking, phlegm rattles, grunts, sighs, heavy breathing and other similar sounds people make in public when they should only really make them when they are alone. Gyms and locker rooms are particularly notorious places for people to make disgusting sounds.

Maybe it is just me, but I find it hard to concentrate on my workout when someone is on the elliptical machine next to me grunting or clearing there throat every five seconds. The maddening thing about it is that you can't say anything to them about it. It is considered bad form to turn to the person and say, "Excuse me, but could you please stop making that disgusting sound or move to a different machine where no one has to listen to you?"

Why do people lifting weights have to grunt and shout all the time. Can't they be more Zen like about pumping iron? And I really get annoyed by overweight, naked people sitting in the locker room sighing heavily and wheezing after a workout. I also get annoyed by overweight, clothed people sitting in the locker room sighing heavily and wheezing after a workout. But at least they are wearing clothes.

Public transit is another source of disgusting people sounds, particularly buses. Doesn't matter where you sit, someone invariably sits next to you and begins "harrumphing" or clearing their throat of a phlegm ball the size of a small child. I won't even go into the smells that usually accompany these people.

I won't even go into the disgusting sounds that emanate from public rest rooms. Suffice it to say, I have a phobia about using one if anyone is in one of the other stalls.

My wife gave me a gift certificate for a massage for Christmas. It had been years since I'd had a massage and I was looking forward to it. When I got to the massage therapist, she took me to the therapy room and told me to undress and get under the sheets on the massage table face down. I complied and waited patiently for my relaxing massage, listening to the pleasant New Age music. The masseuse came in and began the massage. And then the noise began.

She snorted, wheezed and made sounds like a snoring elephant. I tried to ignore the sounds and enjoy the massage but it was like trying to relax in tuberculosis ward.

The sad thing is that I don't think most people are aware of the disgusting noises they make. Since I am annoyed by noises so much, I try to be aware of my own. My wife claims I snore, but I only have her word on it.  Other than that, I try and confine my obnoxious sounds to those times when I am alone and since they are my own noises, I am not really bothered by them.

After all if someone snorts, sniffs, wheezes, excessive clears their throat, hacks, rattles their phlegm, grunts, sighs, breathes heavily or makes other similar sounds and there is no one there to hear it, does it really make a sound?

Pretty Zen, huh?

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

No cliff references and other resolutions

There is nothing like the threat of economic ruin to ring in the new year.

I find it very sad that the stock market sheep continue to fall for the brinkmanship in Washington D.C. The fiscal cliff was a bit like the Mayan End of the World without the parties.  But if they had hyped up fiscal cliff parties, they could have created a drinking game where you got to down a shot every time someone said "fiscal cliff," and there would be one heck of a lot of drunk frat boys making late night calls sobbing into the phone, "I lub youse guys" to their Senate and Congress people.

But I, like every other average Joe Bag of Doughnuts didn't really understand the importance of anything either the Republicans or Democrats were arguing about despite the mass media experts explaining it to me ad nauseum. I just know that every time the federal government is about to go belly up, they borrow more of the imaginary money to increase the national debt beyond the comprehension of anyone. It makes you wonder why all the world leaders don't just give every country a "get out of debt" free card and start over with no one owing anyone anything.

I was never very good at economics.

Regardless, it is the year 2013 and we have four more years until another presidential election and the Olympics. So that is something. I am a bit surprised that no one has made a big deal over the unlucky 13 in year 2013. I am sure that if 2013 has any of your average natural disasters, it will be blamed in retrospect on the number 13 (unless someone unearths an Aztec calendar that is missing a few pages).

I spent New Year's Day dragging our no longer "live" Christmas tree out into the yard and dismembering its corpse. This is not something I am proud of.  I much prefer simply disassembling an artificial tree and putting it back in a box as I did the previous day with my Elvis Tree.

As in other years with less ominous unlucky numbers, I have made no resolutions. At my age, I have pretty much accepted all of my faults and imperfections and see no reason to resolve to do anything about any of them.  Though I would find it refreshing to make resolutions like "I resolve to start smoking, eat whatever I want, drink like a fish and stop bathing altogether."

As it is, I simply settle for getting out of bed every day and getting the highest possible score I can in Angry Birds. I believe in setting the bar low enough to step over without breathing heavily.