Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Lessons in Personal Contact

For the past two and a half years, since my forceful reintroduction to being social with real people, in real life, I've put forth considerable effort to change certain things about myself to help ease the pain of this reintroduction. One thing I've worked hard on is personal contact. By personal contact I mean: hugging, shaking hands, and to a lesser extent eye contact.

In my younger days these things all came naturally. I knew when I was supposed to hug someone and when I was supposed to shake someone's hand. According to archaeologists using advanced carbon dating, that knowledge was lost to me sometime between 1992 and 1993 and has since not been rediscovered, but that doesn't stop me from trying.

Over the past year I've come up with ways to compensate for these deficiencies. When meeting someone, male or female I always try to shake their hand. When saying goodbye I try to shake their hand and if I'm feeling the hug vibe then I usually make a joke out of it by saying something like, "We've known each other for too long for a handshake" as I pull them in for the hug. It's cheesy, but it works.

During Christmas break Ruth and Rachel invited me out to have Chick-fil-A with them on their lunch break. I had the week off, so the offer of delicious delicious chicken and time with the twins was a bit of a no brainer. Jay met us there, and Ruth and Rachel ended up bringing a friend from work named Erica.

I sat on the edge of the table with Erica across and Ruth next to me. Erica seemed nice, although she didn't really say much. She was not really eating as she was getting married soon and wanted to shed some weight for the wedding dress or some other such female nonsense. In the midst of wedding talk and work gossip that I didn't understand I focused my attention on the joy that is the Chick-fil-A 12 pack of chicken nuggets.

As the meal reached what I thought to be the end I thought it appropriate to tell Erica it had been nice to meet her and did so. As I did, she reached her hand from under the table to sort of wave and return the gesture. Unfortunately for me, and everyone present, that little part of my brain that makes me think its time to shake hands saw her hand come from under the table, and like an attention starved dog that has been locked up in a house all day, that little part of my brain jumped.

I instinctively went to shake her hand, for a moment forgetting that she was across the table, and that I had to reach across Ruth to do so. I was getting up to leave as I started this motion but, as if to highlight the sheer awkwardness of the situation, nobody else got up. Just to put the final nail in my embarassment coffin Jay chimed in with, "Wow, that was incredibly awkward"

Yes Jay, that was incredibly awkward.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Nerd Word(s): It's all about you today

It's all about you today
- statement

1. A statement, often laced with heavy sarcasm, meaning that the person it is directed at's opinion is more important than your own. Often used in conjunction with resteraunt selection.

[Origin: Erik, maybe ]

- synonyms
1. It's your day.

- usage
"Where do you want to go to lunch?"
"It's all about you today."

"What are we doing today?"
"It's your day"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

An Urban Family Christmas

This Holiday season Kendall, domestic goddess that she is, decided to throw what she dubbed "The Urban Family Christmas 2006". Okay, I actually added the "The" and the "2006", but mostly because I think it makes it sound more official. The event consisted of a small get together(less than 20 people) at her friend Ben's house where she and her friend Maya would host a small dinner.

Generally speaking, I'd rather go on a hunting trip with Dick Cheney than attend a party where I don't know many of the people in attendance, but Kendall seemed excited, so I made an exception. At the time I accepted the invitation I actually thought that I wouldn't know anyone at the party, but the twins ended up making it, and I had met Maya the week prior so I was a bit more comfortable going in.

At the party I got to meet Kendall's younger sister. I believe her name was Kristan, but for the duration of this blog she shall be known as FMJB(The Future Mrs. Jesse B). It was actually a bit freakish how similar the two were. For a moment I wondered if the animatronic, slightly shorter replica of Kendall that I had been building in my basement since an early December repeat-viewing "Weird Science" marathon had sprung to life and come to the party. My fears were laid to rest when I found that this model had the same level of snarkiness, sarcasm and wit as the original, something I was never able to achieve in my version. Only God could stuff that much attitude into such a small frame, and despite what my ex-girlfriends might tell you, I am mortal. All kidding aside, it was nice to meet my future wife.

At any party, one of two Jesse's will show up. First there's the anti-social Jesse who either sits in the corner by himself or grabs a hold of someone he knows' coat tails and holds on for the duration of the party. The other Jesse is the anti-social Jesse who attempts to combat his lack of social ability with humor, which generally leads to excessive obnoxiousness. For this party, it was the former who came out at first until he found himself devoid of coat tails to grab and hands to hold and that is when the latter decided to come out.

I had done quite well for the beginning of the dinner. I was sat next to Ruth and Rachel, and close to Kendall so I was well within friendly territory. Later in the evening I found myself alone. Kendall was talking to Ben. Maya was obsessively preparing gift baskets for the guests. Ruth and Rachel were buried under a pile of would-be-suitors so deep that it would have taken a hand grenade and crowbar just to find them.

I was doing okay, making small talk here and there with others when Maya poked her head around the corner and from the other side of the party shouted to me.

"What kind of beer do you want in your basket?"
"Oh, none for me thanks. I don't drink"
She accepted this for a moment then came back with a follow up, "Are you Mormon Jesse?"

At this point at least a few heads turned to look at me, and somewhat embarrassed by the attention Jesse #2 decided to show his face. After a moment and a quick survey of the room it was on.

"What, because I'm the nerdy white guy who doesn't drink that makes me a Mormon?"
"That dude over there is wearing a tie, not drinking, and polite. Why aren't we religiously categorizing him?"
"Was it Dick Van Patton or Kierkegaard who said, 'If you label me you negate me'?"

I finished my short diatribe to turn and find myself face to face with a very cute short girl that I didn't know. I believe her name was Amber(I remember it started with an A). We talked for a moment before she finally asked...
"So what's the real reason you don't drink?"
I went in to my small speech which basically amounts to, "I'm not sure really. I just never got around to it"
"It's okay, I don't drink either" she said.
"Oh really? Well how come you don't drink?"
"I'm Mormon"

"Good move jackass" I thought to myself as I now started to back peddle while attempting to dislodge the foot that was stuck firmly in my mouth. I made a few inane statements to stall while I regained my bearings, but she cut me off mid-sentence, turned to Maya and said, "Thanks for inviting me" and then left.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Christmas Traditions: The kids strike back.

I've been yelled at a lot for falling behind lately. Sorry, I'm working on it. I have a lot to say, just no motivation or time to sit down and say it.

The years following "The Super Nintendo Incident" brought many Christmas back-and-forths between my mother and I. I would say that I got the best of the back-and-forth, but I'm sure that she would probably see them landing more in her favor.

Mom pretends as though I tortured her, but truth be told she enjoyed it. She'd never let on of course, but she did. The Christmas after I went "away" to school(ASU is only 40 minutes drive from my parent's) I wasn't home as much to mess with my mom, and I thought that at age 18 maybe it was time to let it go. Sure enough though, the closer it got to Christmas the more she started calling.

"You know, there's a lot of presents under the tree. When are you going to come see them?"
"There's a new big present under the tree. Do you want to come shake it?"
"You haven't guessed ANY of your presents yet"

My dad finally called and told me that I should at least come over sometime and harass mom a little. It just wouldn't be Christmas without it.

This year, Miranda decided to take over my duties of messing with mom. Her plan was to continually refer to the 24th as Christmas instead of the 25th.

"Hey mom, what time are we opening presents on Sunday?"
"Oh, probably around ni... wait, we're opening presents on Monday. Monday is Christmas"

"I invited Geremy over to have ham with us on Sunday after presents."
"Oh, okay... No... No... No... Presents are on Monday."

Miranda, finally having earned the right to be called my sister, kept this up for the entire week. By the Friday preceding Christmas she had clued me in and I called a few times to ask mom about our plans for Sunday, but by that time she was on to it and just dismissed me. Since I wanted to join in on the fun too I came up with a plan and called Mory.

We got together on Saturday with a few empty boxes of things that would be presents for us if we didn't already have them, wrapped them up, and placed them neatly under the tree. For my part, I brought my Wii box and a couple of games.

Sunday morning I showed up bright and early. Mom was on the couch when Miranda came out and we both started shouting about presents. Miranda finally picked up a big one(An empty Wii box) and tossed it across the room to me. I tore through the wrapping and cheered. As I did so, mom stormed out of the room, "Fine, open all of your freaking presents. See if I care"

I chased her down the hall feeling slightly bad since she was visibly upset.

"Hey mom, remember playing Wii with me over Thanksgiving?"

I held the box up to her once again and gave her a second until it finally all fell in place. She tried to stay upset for a second, but a smile quickly came through.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Robo-babe of the day: Hedy Lamarr

In general I try to avoid the celeb worship... at least I avoid it in my blog writing, but a recent jaunt through the Internet led to the wikipedia page for Hedy Lamarr. I won't go through the particulars as to how I got there, but I will take the time now to point out why I now have a major crush on her.

1. She was a Jewish woman who fled from Germany in the mid-30's by drugging her husband(A friend of Hitler's) and the maid he had hired to make sure she didn't get away. "So?" the average reader may ask. Let's break it down...

First, she's Jewish. This came as big of a shock to me as anyone, but apparently I'm in to the ladies of the Jewish faith.

Second, she kicked more Nazi ass than Indiana Jones, and that's saying something. The only way she could be cooler is if she had also piloted a star ship with a big hairy side kick. Unfortunately she died in 2000 before such a dream could become a reality.

2. She ended up being a famous actress in Hollywood and starred in Samson and Delilah as well as a few other films.

3. She's an absolute knock out on the robo-babe scale:

4. If you're a nerd, you probably remember the CorelDraw 8 box which featured her face rendered in vector graphics. Not necessarily a reason to love her for the rest of the world but hey, I'm a nerd.

5. This is the big one...

Hedy Lamarr (under her then-married name of Hedy Kiesler Markey) and composer George Antheil received U.S. patent #2,292,387 for their Secret Communication System on August 11, 1942. This early version of frequency hopping used a piano roll to change between 88 frequencies and was intended to make radio-guided torpedoes harder for enemies to detect or jam. This idea was controversial and ahead of its time and technology.

She helped invent frequency hopping which is basically used everywhere now from CDMA(Cell Phones) to 802.11(Wireless computers). Some say she invented it just to help kick Nazi ass and piss her ex-husband off.

A robo-babe, nerd, and Nazi hunter? I've written stories in my dream journal involving me having magical powers, the two twins being in love with me, and a magical journey with a Pegasus named Chauncey that were more believable than this girl.

If I don't update the blog for a while it's because I'm currently working on rebuilding my time machine so I can go back in time, win her heart, and live happily ever after. I built one last week, but I forgot to put in the crystals and ruined it.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Christmas Traditions: Mom throws the gauntlet down

I said in an earlier post that I wasn't a big fan of traditions. I realized this Christmas that I'm not a fan of traditional traditions. I'm not a fan of doing things because everyone else does. My family does, like most families, have numerous traditions. I guess I don't really think of them that way though. It's more of just "what we do." Maybe that's just what a tradition is.

When I was a kid, like most kids, I liked to guess what my presents were. It was really easy to tell when I got it right because my mom would get upset. She'd deny it, but it was always quite visible.

As I got older it got to the point that it was a game. My mom would double or triple wrap my presents, or wrap them in larger boxes just to throw me off. She would avoid putting name-tags on gifts, which inevitably led to her forgetting which gift belonged to who. It was always great to see the joy on Miranda's face as she opened a controller for a Nintendo that she didn't own, or on Josh's face as he opened that Barbie Dream House that wasn't exactly on his list.

One year, the only major item on my list was a Super Nintendo and my mom had told me in advance that it just wasn't in the budget. That was a typical mom tactic and I wasn't falling for it. Since she had protested so much that I wasn't getting a Super Nintendo, I had extra motivation to screw with her.

It just so happened that my friend Mike had gotten one for Christmas, and his parents had let him open it early. This made my job quite easy. I walked in to the living room, where my mom was sitting, and called Mike.

"Wow, a Super Nintendo. That's great dude. My mom says with the new house and all they couldn't afford one this year. Hey, you wouldn't happen to have the box lying around still would you... Oh, you do? Hey, just for the heck of it could you get out a tape measure and tell me the exact width?"

As I asked I pulled out a tape measure, and grabbed the present that was under the tree that I thought for sure to be my Nintendo.

"24.2 inches you say?" I asked rather loudly as I measured the box. "Wow, what an odd coincidence. This present that is obviously NOT a Super Nintendo is the exact same width. What are the chances the length is the same?"

This continued on for a while until my mother, now less than thrilled with me, left the room. I started laughing, thanked Mike, and hung up the phone.

On Christmas morning we woke up at the traditional 6 am and rushed to the living room. In my family, the gifts from Santa would be unwrapped and under the tree. Those were usually the "fun" gifts and we'd mess with those for about an hour until mom finally gave us the okay to tear in to the wrapped gifts. This year I came down the hall to find my "fun" gift from Santa was... a set of bed sheets and comforter. It would be an understatement to say that I was less than thrilled.

It didn't take me long to start in on my mom, "Alright, lets open presents". After about a half an hour she finally gave and said, "Okay, you can open one now since Santa didn't bring you anything to play with". I hopped up, grabbed the "Super Nintendo" box, and tore in, and I was right. It was in fact a Super Nintendo. Overjoyed I opened the box, ready to hook it up, but instead of a Nintendo, inside was a baseball cap that read, "NOT!" and enough odds and ends to give the box the same weight as a Nintendo.

My mom and dad laughed for a while and finally agreed to let me open the rest of my gifts. It turns out I had a lot of gifts under the tree that year since, after my box measuring, my mother had unwrapped the Nintendo and individually wrapped each cable, controller, item, etc from the box.

Needless to say, the years following this incident it was on.