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Stop Interrupting Me

Last week, I told you about my latest and most terrifying haircut adventure. Today I’m going to tell you that it may not be over.

No, I’m not saying that I’ve been getting my hair cut continuously for the past three weeks. I will admit that would be terrifying in its own way. Thank you so much for bringing it up. If there’s anything I need, it’s to waste more time worrying about crazy stuff that you bring up…like three week long haircuts. Please don’t interrupt me.

I’m concerned about something much more sinister, with ethical implications far beyond what I should be addressing on my humble blog.

Lydia, Oh Lydia

The only thing scarier than one of these is one of these in Lydia’s hand. (image by Dr. K CC by SA 3.0)

You might recall that my last few haircuts were done by a woman who is littered with bad tattoos. During my last cut, she brought out a straight razor to trim the hair on the back of my neck. No one has ever used a straight razor to cut my hair before. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dermatologist. Cosmetologist. Whatever.

It has been rare that the same person has cut my hair more than once. That seems to be changing with the shop I go to now.

This new place isn’t bad. There aren’t other customers waiting when I arrive. I’m always first in line. The woman at the counter asks if I made an appointment. I never make one, because like I said, I’m the only one there.

This has almost nothing to do with what I’ve written, but I’m sure it’s funny. Or maybe it was funny, or something (public domain)

So she always says, “have a seat, someone will be right with you.”

It used to bother me that the receptionist would ask me to take a seat and wait when I’m the only customer. The Hallmark Channel is always on the waiting area television. I began to wonder if my penance for not having an appointment was enduring ten minutes of sappy Hallmark programming. Now I realize that the wait is a good thing. I think they are trying to assign me to the same person each time.

Meet Inky

I’m not sure how old my current hair cutter is. Perhaps she’s in her seventies. It might also be true that she is in her forties and has gone through a lot of wear and tear. She has red hair, but it isn’t a shade of red that occurs in nature. I don’t simply mean that I know she dyes her hair. I’m saying that this woman’s hair is a completely unprecedented red. If the color wheel was a tire with a nail stuck in it right where the reds are, this red would be at the spot where that tire went flat. Read the rest of this entry »

1 + 1 = Syracuse

There are times when one plus one equals two. But now and then, you look at one, you look at the other one and when you add those together you get five.

When one and one equal five, there are usually logical reasons to think that’s the answer. Once, when I was very young, I added one plus one.

And the answer was Syracuse. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Touch The Element Of The Toaster Oven

Don’t try this at home – I burned my finger in the toaster oven.

Not the toaster oven in question. Just the same, don’t screw with it. (public domain via wikimedia)

I knew this before I burned myself, but the elements on a toaster oven get extremely hot. I’m now able to say that they are hot to the touch. Let me stress that you should not try that out for yourself at home, nor should you go to another person’s home to try it.

I’m a little nervous telling you this, because I don’t want a rash of people going out and trying to see if this works for them Read the rest of this entry »

The Devil’s Left Hand

I went to Catholic school for the first few years. One of the most vivid memories I have of that experience is from my first grade class room.

My left hand is too evil to allow itself to be photographed. (image by Krzysztof P. Jasiutowicz, CC by SA 3.0)

We were practicing writing. The boy in front of me was left-handed. The nun who was our teacher came by and cracked the back of his hand with a ruler and told him to use his other hand. He swapped hands. Unfortunately, each time she stopped our practice to teach another letter we had to put our pencils down. And when the nun instructed us to pick them back up, my classmate’s natural tendency took over. He’d take up his pencil in his left hand.

Over and over this poor kid would pick up his pencil in his left hand after a pause and the nun would hit him. I don’t remember much of what she taught that day. I just remember learning gratitude; I thanked God I wasn’t born left-handed. Read the rest of this entry »

My Mother The Killer Clown

If you call someone a clown you usually don’t mean it in the literal sense. When I call someone a clown, sometimes I mean it literally. My parents were clowns.

Growing up as the son of clowns had its share of challenges. I did quite a bit of writing about what it was like to go through the high school years with parents who wore red noses. But I’m not here to tell you about those old days. This is about something more sinister.

And by sinister, I suppose that I mean odd.

I Haven’t Told This Story In Years

And this is odd because had I dinner and drinks with friends two nights ago. Ok, that’s not odd, I do that sort of thing frequently. But odd because after dinner I told the story of how The Unification Church tried to recruit me while I was in college. Yes, the Moonies took a swing at bringing me in to their flock. Read the rest of this entry »

How To Defeat The World’s Largest Virus

I’ve got a cold. Last night, no cold. This morning, a cold.

Who knows where these things come from? I wasn’t near anyone who was sniffling or sneezing. Everything was fine. And then, at 3:26 a.m., I had the start of a cold.

I wonder, in Nancy Kerrigan’s immortal words -  “Why? Why?”

I have a theory. Read the rest of this entry »

The Rise Of The Tea Picking Monkeys

The second half of a tale I started telling…here.

Picking tea was a path to the good life for generations of monkeys. And then innovation lifted the tea industry while it drove monkeys to the poor house.

The poor house is something I don’t know much about. I’m sure it exists because when I was a kid my father used to say “you’re going to drive me to the poor house”. The poor house didn’t seem like somewhere I wanted to send dad, so I changed my ways.

The Monkeys Find Themselves In Hot Water

The change that hit the tea industry hit the monkeys so fast that they had no chance to change their ways.

Hot water. A metaphor I can be proud of. (image public domain – wikimedia)

When tea was grown on trees, monkeys pulled down some serious cabbage harvesting the most savory tea leaves. Then a human realized that the trees could be trimmed to the size of bushes. Tea bushes meant that the crop could be harvested without the expense of paying a skilled simian labor pool. Hard times befell those tea harvesting monks. A lot of them probably saw the poor house.

The worst part was that even though monkeys were not picking tea anymore, the phrase “Monkey Picked Tea” was (and still is) used to market the product. But instead of meaning that monkeys were at work, the phrase now meant that a product contained higher quality tea leaves.

No trickle of the tea industry’s new profitability made it down to the monkeys who lost their jobs. Communities that had thrived were now steeped in misery. Without sufficient income, trouble brewed. Unsavory elements infused the once proud neighborhoods where the unemployed monkeys lived.

It’s Hard To Kick The Door Down, When You Ain’t Wearin’ Any Shoes*

A new hope began to rise from this blight. Inspired by some old-timer’s tales of the way things were, a group of younger monkeys wondered why it couldn’t be that way again. Why couldn’t the trees grow tall? Why couldn’t their kind harvest again? Did they dare to dream of self-reliance?

As it turns out, yes, they dared. But it is one thing to dare to dream of pulling yourself up by your boot straps. It is another to realize that you don’t have any boots. So, with the help of a government grant, the monkeys went to work. They formed a corporation and bought a tea plantation. Some of the money went toward sending young monkeys to good agricultural colleges.

Always ask – “Did a monkey pick this?” (image public domain via wikimedia)

When the young ones returned, they had new ways to grow the trees taller and fuller. As the tea trees reached for more sun, more monkeys went back to work at picking tea. The corporation kept their eye on the goal of self-reliance even as they reinvested and grew their market share. Communities that once grew cold were now infused with income and the energy of the working man…or in this case, working monkey.

So today, when you shop for tea, remember that “monkey picked tea” doesn’t always mean that monkeys plucked your leaves. Be a responsible tea drinker. Read the label before you buy. If the package is designated as monkey picked, ask your retailer to confirm that product in the box was indeed harvested by simians.

If your shop keeper can’t say for certain that real monkeys picked their tea, simply refuse to purchase it. Because seriously, throwing feces doesn’t represent anyone very well.



*Todd Snider – Sideshow Blues


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