Friday 5: We Can Work It Out

Holy moly what a week.  I’ll recap sometime this weekend.  I need to pound this out and get myself to bed.

  1. What’s a real-world lesson you learned from your first job?
    My first job was putting books on shelves at Aiea Public Library when I was in ninth grade.  I made $3.85 per hour ($4.10 after six in the evening — it was a state of Hawaii thing).  A good lesson I learned is that small children make a lot of work for people in service positions.  The worst part of my job was easily straightening shelves in the easies.  There was nothing easy about it.  It took me forever to get the easies in order, but there was this girl (actually, she might have been in college, so girl may not be the right word) who seemed to do it really quickly, really well, and without complaint.  She just got down to business and got it done, and maybe that’s another real-life lesson I learned there.
  2. What was pleasantly unexpected about your current (or most recent) job?
    Speaking of libraries, I discovered this week in my new job (about which, more later) at the state’s largest university that I have borrowing privileges in the library.  I have yet to exercise this privilege, as it’s taken me every ounce of waking energy just to do what I have to do, but I have taken a few moments to look up a few things in the online catalogue, and I have to say it’s all very exciting.
  3. What are some identifying tools of your trade?
    I have two trades: writing and teaching.  For writing, I’ll go with my idea board, which is basically a bunch of stickies stuck to a wall.  For teaching, the easiest answer is a gradebook, but I haven’t had a physical gradebook in a million years, so I think I’ll go with dry-erase markers.  I’m particular about my markers, and I still carry some around in case I’m ever called upon to write on a dry-erase board.  This hasn’t happened in half an eon, so this behavior may fade away, but among the first things I put into the top drawer of my new desk at my new job were several Expo bullet-tip dry-erase markers of many colors.  These are, by the way, my second favorite.  They don’t make my favorite anymore, the Avery Marks-a-Lot markers with the liquid ink in the reservoir.  They were so juicy!  You could do neat stuff with them, like make ink splatters by whipping them in the direction of the board.  I haven’t had occasion to look for some alternative, and it wouldn’t surprise me if someone has filled the niche (there are still liquid ink highlighters out there, so I don’t see why not).  I still have one somewhere, the last of a dead breed.
  4. What’s something a job required that you thought was far outside your skillset?
    Counseling frustrated parents of teens.  I didn’t get into teaching because I have decent interpersonal grown-up skills.  I don’t.  But when confronted by unreasonable parents, I’ve learned how to listen to them and somehow talk them down, and get to what was really bothering them (it was seldom about me, no matter how the conversation began).  Just listening to someone goes about as far as you need it to.
  5. Robert Frost wrote, “My object in living is to unite / My avocation and my vocation / as my two eyes make one in sight.”  To what degree have you united your vocation (your job) and your avocation (your hobby)?
    For most of my professional career, I was all about this.  I ache every day with longing to be back in the classroom.  But somewhere in the ridiculous demands of that glorious, wonderful, humbling work, I forgot that I memorized, in eighth grade, the last stanza of this poem because I wanted to write.  I’m not quite there yet — the type of writing my new work requires isn’t quite it, but I feel I’m getting closer, and it’s why I’ve pursued an opportunity like this (about which, more later).

Almost.  The.  Week.  End.

Friday 5: Animate

From here.

  1. In what ways are you like an ox?
    I always imagine that oxen are quiet and thoughtful.  I don’t know how quiet I am, but I am something of a loner and I consider myself thoughtful.  So I guess that.
  2. In what ways are you like a rabbit?
    I don’t know a lot about rabbits except what I read in Watership Down, a novel in which rabbits are pretty much impossible to stereotype.  Still, they go on kind of a long, focused journey, and I’ve done a bunch of long, focused walking this past year.
  3. In what ways are you like a snake?
    My favorite football player of all time was nicknamed Snake.  I guess that doesn’t help much for this question.  The serpent in the Fall of (hu)Man story went after Eve first.  That’s pretty much my move as well.
  4. In what ways are you like a goat?
    Are goats kind of solitary and mind-their-own-businessy?  Or am I putting characteristics of sheep (which I have recently been calling my spirit animal whenever someone asks) (although I’m changing that to an okapi now) on goats just because they make similar sounds?  I also eat a lot of junk.
  5. In what ways are you like a rooster?
    I do like my hens!


Friday 5: Forward

From here.

  1. What are you looking forward to in your personal life in 2017?
    Although I don’t really have an idea of how this will look, I’m hoping to be slightly more social this year than last.  I also would really like to finish the next draft of this long writing project I’ve been workingon for the past couple of years.
  2. What’s something you’re planning ahead for?
    The new gig is going to make it tougher and easier to hit my weekly step count goal.  I’ve been playing around with different ideas for the commute in order to address this.  The most appealing solution might be to ride a bus part of the way and walk part of the way, in each direction.  Last week, I walked the whole way from home to the new office, and it was about a 2.5 hour walk, but that was at night when it’s cool and when there’s far less street traffic.  It’s five miles or so, however, and that’s a good number.
  3. How intense is your to-do list for the last days of the year?
    Pretty intense.  I have a lot of work to do, for two clients, and I’m behind on my reviews for books and movies.  Need to get some groceries, too, and do some housecleaning.
  4. What’s something you’d like to jump past, between now and the end of the year?
    Almost all of my podcasts are on vacation, so I would like to jump past the vacation part, if that’s possible.  How do you jump past a non-happening?  Meanwhile, thanks to Julie, I’ve recently discovered the Judge John Hodgman podcast, and it’s super smart and super funny.  I’m working my way backward through that, and it’s been helpful, but I still miss my regular stuff.
  5. How will you ring in the new year?
    I’d like to see a movie in the theater and then spend the rest of my time quietly, at home.  Maybe with a DVD or two.  That’s the rough plan, anyway.

Friday 5: Something’s Afoot

  1. What’s the nicest pair of shoes you’ve owned?
    About fourteen years ago, I bought a rather expensive pair of shoes.  Or maybe they weren’t so expensive.  I’m kind of cheap when it comes to shoes, so I don’t know what expensive shoes are.  These were a nice pair of black dress shoes from J. C. Penney and they were about a hundred and twenty-five bucks.  They look good; I still have them.  They are in need of a good shine, though, and I haven’t worn them in maybe five or six years.  When I wear them, I usually get complimented on them.  They’re okay for what they are, but I don’t wear them unless I really need to.
  2. What’s likely to be your next shoe purchase?
    Almost certainly some athletic shoes for walking around in.  I just bought a really, really cheap pair of all-black Avias at Walmart for fifteen bucks, and they’re a lot better than I’d have expected.  They look pretty good, good enough to wear to my job interviews this past month, and they’re confortable enough.  My right foot has been a bit achey lately, and I’m wondering if it’s the shoes.  The right shoe’s been noticeably loose, but I tightened up the laces last night and it felt a lot better.
  3. Where’s your favorite place to get shoes?
    For my entire teaching career, I wore all-black Vans to work.  Teaching really dictates athletic shoes over dress shoes, no matter what they tell you about appearances.  The same is true of jeans, but both schools where I taught have been slow to embrace this fact, because apparently appearances mean more than practicality, despite very few people ever actually seeing me teach except my students, who didn’t care what was on my feet.

    So all-black Vans were a nice compromise.  They’re comfortable for most of the moving around I did, and you’d have to look closely to notice they were really skater shoes.  There used to be a Vans outlet nearby, down at the old Dole Cannery, but when it opened a new location in Waikele, where all the outlet stores are, it closed shop in town, so my go-to has been Famous Footwear.  But I do prefer the Vans store when I can get out there.

    I once bought a pair of running shoes from ESPN, back when they sold gear from the website.  They were marked down quite a bit, and I was running five days a week after work, so I kind of thought this would be the most hassle-free way to keep myself in decent shoes.  I’m thinking I will go back to online shopping for shoes in the near future.

  4. When did you last swap out the insoles or laces on a pair of shoes?
    I get insoles almost all the time now.  Since the budget dictated really inexpensive shoes this time around, I bought some gel insoles that cost about the same as the shoes, so call it about three weeks ago.  So yeah.  I’m gellin’ like a felon.  I haven’t bought laces since high school.
  5. What were the last shoes you got rid of like?
    I wore all-black New Balances for almost the whole year.  I bought them for the office when I was working in Chinatown.  They looked great, but then I no longer worked in Chinatown and didn’ t need to get dressed up, but by then I was really used to them, and they were built for activity anyway.  I Shoe-Gooed them twice to get a few extra miles out of them.  Finally had to toss them when the hard rubber sole actually wore all the way through to the foam-rubber cushion beneath.  I conservatively estimate that I put 2500 miles on them.

Friday 5 for December 16: Back in the Highlights Again

From here.

  1. What was your highlight in dining for 2016?
    Dining has been mostly uneventful this year, but I got together with the family a few times (thanks, Dad!) to celebrate a few things.  Mom’s birthday at Paesano in Aiea was a particularly memorable meal.  I had a vegetable thing with pasta.
  2. What was your highlight in relationships for 2016?
    I made a concerted effort to avoid people this year, mostly because I just couldn’t afford to be social.  It’s tough telling people I can’t get together with friends because I’m completely broke all the time, so it’s just been easier to live hermit-like.  But I have continued to meet with my writing partner, pretty much every week, and it’s been a good, productive working relationship as well as a much-needed in-person friendship.
  3. What was your highlight in entertainment for 2016?
    Probably A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty, a wonderful young-adult fantasy I crammed in somewhere between cozy mysteries.  The 2016 World Series was pretty great too.
  4. What was your highlight in self-improvement for 2016?
    There’s an obvious answer, but I’m going with a less-obvious answer, which has to do with keeping my head up when it would have been very easy to be brought down.  I’ve had a tough year!  But through most of it, I’ve remained optimistic.  I feel pretty good about that, and think it bodes well for a better 2017.
  5. What was your highlight in completing something for 2016?
    Man, this is tough.  I always have ten million things in progress and seldom actually complete anything.  I think I’ll go with what seems to be a completed search for some regular employment.  I found out today that I don’t begin until the second week of January, which I admit is something of a disappointment, but unless something goes wrong in a really weird way, I end 2016 continuing to do my freelance writing while looking forward to a desk in an office for the first time in fifteen months.  I feel pretty good about that.


Friday 5: Ache but Don’t Break

From here.

  1. What caused your most recent tummy ache?
    Jalapeno poppers at this pizza place in town.  My writing partner loves them.  I love them too, but I’ve been having major problems on the evenings after we meet, and I’ve narrowed the culprit down to those poppers.  I’m super annoyed about this, but whatever.  One of these days I’ll tell the story of how I had to relieve myself in the field at a local middle school at close to midnight.  Or maybe not.
  2. What cause your most recent heartache?
    It’s not one of those break-down-and-cry heartaches (I’ve had plenty of those), but today I ache for this week’s death of Greg Lake, the singer in Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (also in King Crimson for a time and briefly in Asia).  Keith Emerson died in March, so it’s been a rough year for prog-heads.
  3. How did you deal with your most recent headache?
    I popped three ibuprofens the night before last.  I usually do three pills in some combination of aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetominophen (usually two of one and one of another), but I’m down to just a handful of ibuprofens right now.  Need to make a Walmart run soon.
  4. How do you deal with a sore throat?
    Ugh.  Usually hot tea.  Sore throats are miserable.  My mother used to give me an iodine swab, something I hated (I gag on my own toothbrush every day), but it did seem to work most of the time.
  5. Where else do you ache?
    I’ve been having some tightness in the neck, shoulders, and back that gives me some pain, especially in the mornings right before I get up.  My feet were pretty achey for a while, but that seems to be subsiding, thank goodness.  And that thing I’m still not talking about, that still aches like crazy.

Thanks for participating, and have an owie-free weekend!

Friday 5: Celluloid Heroes

From here.

  1. What movie most recently impressed you with its score or soundtrack?
    Last year’s Oscar-winner for best score was Ennio Morricone’s beautiful work on The Hateful 8, and I was pleased that it was recognized.  I was sure Star Wars: The Force Awakens was going to get the award, and it was certainly worthy, but Morricone’s was slightly more memorable.
  2. What movie most recently impressed you with its costumes or makeup?
    The costumes in Mean Girls, which I saw recently for the first time, were really creative and interesting.  You could tell the costume designer had a lot of fun dressing up these four pretty actresses.  Honorable shout-out to Captain America: Civil War.
  3. What movie most recently impressed you with its scenic backdrops?
    Strangely, it might have to be Pali Road, a film I disliked.  It’s filmed in Hawaii, and at first the scenery is the usual Hawaii stuff.  Beaches, mountains, greenery, oceans.  But then it takes us to some less picturesque locations that residents will recognize, if not for their exact spots, for their everyday Hawaii-ness.  It’s a film that looks like home.  A pretty crappy film that looks like home.
  4. What movie most recently impressed you with its originality?
    I’m going with Inside Out, although the case could be made for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.  The very concept of a children’s movie about emotions personified is so huge and unreal that its making it to screen is impressive enough.  But not only does it exist, it works in ways that hadn’t been invented yet.  Pixar didn’t just create a movie whose technology hadn’t been seen before (as is the case with just about every Pixar movie); it may have created a movie whose characters, themes, and plot devices hadn’t been seen before.  It’s just an amazing piece of film.
  5. What movie most recently impressed you with its dialogue?
    There’s a scene in Hail, Caesar! where Alden Ehrenreich (the future-and-past Han Solo) and Ralph Fiennes do the old “repeat after me” gag that had me nearly in tears, it was so well done.  It wasn’t the most creative dialogue — I mean, it was basically the same line said over and over — but it was so well delivered I may have sprayed iced tea all over myself.  That was just one scene, though.  For a whole movie of impressive dialogue, a recent rewatching of Chasing Amy was a nice reminder of how good Kevin Smith is.

Friday 5: You, Too

From here.

  1. What are you too short to do?
    Man.  I’m too short to slam-dunk a basketball on an eight-foot rim, something that embarrasses me more than you’d think.  I once went to a park with some friends to shoot some slam-dunk video on an eight-foot rim, from angles that would make it look like a regular ten-foot rim.  I very quickly became the full-time videographer when it became clear I was the only guy there who coudn’t slam it home.
  2. What are you too smart to do?
    Listen.  I don’t care what anyone else calls it.  I’m too smart to go sky-diving or bungee-jumping.  The greatest minds of human history have been devoted to defying gravity.  Giving in to gravity seems like the opposite inclination to me.
  3. What are you too fearful to do?
    I’m certainly not too fearful to jump out of a plane or off a bridge, if that’s what you’re thinking.  That’s about being too smart, not being too fearful.  What I’m really too fearful to do is sleep with my bedroom lights out.  I won’t get into it here, but this is not merely a matter of preference.  I much, much prefer sleeping in total darkness, but for the past ten years or so, I need to leave the lights on, and it’s for a stupid reason that someday I am pretty sure will no longer be true.  One of my favorite things about camping in a tent or vacationing in a hotel is that they are some of the few places I can safely turn out every light and just sleep.
  4. What are you too lazy to do?
    My city has bulky-item trash pickup once a month, and I have a couple of things that need to go.  I’m just too lazy to haul it to the curb on the designated day (you’re supposed to put it out on a specific day, and not earlier, to spare your neighbors the eyesore).  I’ve got to do it soon, though, as I’ve been making slow progress toward a clean house, and this stuff has to go.
  5. What are you too young to do?
    The easy answer is that I’m too young to retire, alas, but I should be able to come up with something more meaningful than that.  Okay, I got it.  I’m too young to be as preoccupied by death as I am.  I’m too young to give up on certain lifelong ambitions I have, especially about my writing.  And I’m too young to have seriously put together a bucket list.

    I had a brief chat with my dad last weekend, during which he said his bucket list has been checked off, and it has been for a long time.  He’s enjoying being retired and not having to do anything, so I didn’t suggest what I wanted to, which is that he should come up with a couple more things.  I’m not sure why I feel that way; I mean, if you’re satisfied with what you’ve done and you’re enjoying what you are, why keep adding to the list just to keep doing stuff?  Something to think about when I’m not so tired.


Friday 5: Fair Use

From here.

  1. What was the last thing you put in the freezer not to freeze, but just to chill?
    I do this a few times a day when I refill my water bottle.  I grew sensitive to the taste of my tap water a few years ago, and even filtering didn’t help.  So then I drank bottled water for a few years but that’s been an expense I can’t justify this year, so I refill my bottle from the tap and put it in the freezer to get it as cold as possible.  It took a few weeks of drinking it like this (okay, maybe a few more than a few more) but now I can’t detect whatever I disliked about the taste, at least not when the water is very, very cold.
  2. What’s a non-food item you’re storing in a zippered, plastic bag?
    I have a few books I keep in large, zippered plastic bags.  My collection of Madeleine L’Engle’s Crosswicks Journals books is in a plastic bag.  So is my first printing of John Grisham’s A Time to Kill, which I discovered once on my dad’s bookshelf.  He told me to take it and get what I could for it.  That was nearly fifteen years ago and I haven’t gotten it appraised; nor have I confirmed that it’s a true first edition.  But if it is, it’s one of 5,000 copies.  It hasn’t aged well on the shelf, I’m sorry to say.
  3. What’s the most unusual item you’ve used as a bookmark?
    I don’t know if this is unusual, but for several years, I did the bulk of my reading while having dinner or lunch, and if I was dining out, I would mark my place with the receipt.  Several of the books I own have several receipts in them, reminders of the times and places the books were consumed.
  4. What’s something unusual for which you’ve used a kitchen utensil?
    I very clumsily used a spoon to get the cap off a bottle of beer once.  I’ve seen guys just pop the caps off by rapping the lip of the cap on the edge of a table, but I could never pull that off.  Another friend has a good trick where he pops the cap off the bottle and up into the air using a cigarette lighter.  Also something I could never pull off.
  5. How many different kinds of balls do you have in your house?
    A basketball, some golf balls, a couple of inflatable beach balls, some tennis balls, a can of racquetballs, several stress balls, a tea ball, a ball of twine, and several superballs.  That’s nine, I guess.

Friday 5: Sights Seen

From here.

  1. What’s the tourist attraction nearest you that most people from other places are aware of?
    Probably Waikiki Beach.  It’s definitely worth its hype, but it’s kind of a rough beach, a lot rougher than many tourists might expect.  I’d recommend they visit Ala Moana Beach, which is a lot safer and pretty terrific too.  It’s the beach I’ve spent the most time at, and probably Honolulu’s real treasure.
  2. What’s a tourist attraction you’ve visited that was better than you expected?
    When I was in Cooperstown to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I took part of a day to visit Cooperstown’s Farmers Museum.  It was great!  It was one of those places where people are dressed in period costumes, and they weave cloth on a loom and stuff.  I was fascinated, and it was a great day.
  3. What’s a tourist attraction you’ve visited that was disappointing?
    I watched the Seattle Mariners play the Detroit Tigers in the old Seattle Kingdome.  I won’t go so far as to say it was disappointing, because it was Major League Baseball and I don’t get to watch that where I live, and I love baseball.  But baseball in a domed stadium?  It leaves a lot to be desired.  Not a fan, although I really enjoyed the baseball.  The last time I was at Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory National Park was kind of a disappointment.  If you’re not sleeping on the volcano, which I have done, it’s not that great a visit.
  4. What’s a tourist attraction you’re still hoping to visit?
    I want to see a ball game in every Major League stadium.  I also have an unexplainable desire to go to Branson, Missouri to do the whole tourist show thing.  I hate those things, so I don’t know where this comes from.  Maybe I like the irony.
  5. Excluding restaurants, what tourist attraction you’ve visited had the best food and the best gift shop?
    I honestly don’t know how anything could beat Disneyland, unless it’s Disney World, but to be honest, I didn’t get to eat anything at Disneyland.  I went with my grandparents when I was fifteen, and we brought a picnic lunch.  It was fine.  My grandparents hated spending money for food at tourist things.  The gift shops were terrific, though, and I spent a huge part of my hard-earned library wages on souvenirs for the pretty girls at school.

    Of places where I actually ate?  I might have to stick close to home and say the cafe in the Honolulu Museum of Art.  Honestly, when I travel, I don’t go to very many touristy things.  Oh!  You know, there’s something about the overpriced chili at the Honolulu Zoo I’m also kind of fond of, even though I’m fairly sure it comes out of a can.  Something about it has me looking forward to it almost all the time.