August 15, 2003

Suffering From Blackouts, And a Little Friday Cheddar

There's something very eerie about seeing all those pictures of the New York City skyline draped in darkness. No constellation of lights running up the sides of buildings. No indication of life within the walls. Just silent obelisks seemingly indifferent to a lack of energy, while people all over the city stifle their own personal panic at being without electricity for probably the first time in their lives.

Don't worry, folks. It's like camping, er, except I've never seen a campsite with 50 million people. Although, that would be a pretty wicked camping trip.

I'm curious, of course, to see what kind of conspiracy theories arise because of this. It's inevitable, really. People have become so dependent on electricity, they can't imagine a failure in the power grid without cooking up ridiculous reasons for its hiccup. Here's the deal. American power grids are oversaturated, underpowered, and getting older by the day. This won't be the last blackout, folks, mark my words. Best to keep a flashlight and a few porno mags handy.

Ah, but today is Friday, and that means it's time for. . . The Cheddar X

1. How do you relax after a difficult day?
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I go for a run. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I go to hapkido. Pretty simple, really. However, this question reminds me of one of my first real job interviews when I was pretty much fresh out of college. There I was, armed with a mass communications/journalism degree (with a useless history minor), thinking for all the world that I was a hot commodity sure to be snatched up by the workplace, when I got a phone call from the biggest newspaper in the area, the Rochester Post-Bulletin (motto: All The News That The Mayo Clinic Deems Fit To Print).

This was a big deal for me; the chance to work for the P-B right out of college. The only problem was, I was doing a phone interview right after I came in from a run, and I mean RIGHT AFTER the run. No sooner had I walked in the front door, when my mother handed me the phone. So, there I was, a huffing, puffing, wheezing mess of a sweaty young man, trying to fight through a phone interview for a job I was probably very underqualified for. But then, the interviewer asked the question: How do you deal with stress?

Of course, what he MEANT was, how do I deal, internally, with the difficulties and stresses of working under deadlines. In my runner-fatigued and excited mental state, however, what I THOUGHT he meant was, how do I deal with stress EXTERNALLY.

"Oh, I drive around a lot."

BZZZZZ! BZZZZZ! Wrong answer! Wrong answer!

I didn't get the job.

2. What's your favorite form of transportation?
A female on all fours. Did I just type that? No, no, seriously, I would have to say trains. Not the Am-Trak kind of trains, mind you, but the inner-city train/subway systems. Or, at least I liked the ones in Tokyo. They were so alive and romantic, and schoolgirls would pinch my ass from time to time. Ah, Japanese trains, where sexual harassment meets public transportation.

3. What is your worst travel experience?
Well, this is a worst/best scenario, because it was really actually pretty fun at the time, but in retrospect I should have been terrified. My senior class trip to China was just wrapping up, and we were flying from Beijing back to Tokyo on that bastion of airline supremacy, Pakistani Air. Seriously, Pakistan has, or at least they HAD (not sure if it still exists) an airline, and we were on it. As I remember it, it was a conspicuously filthy airplane. To give you an idea, one of the airline discomfort bags in the seat pocket of one of my fellow classmates actually had. . .how shall I put this?. . . residue. . . in it from a previous passenger, and by "residue" I mean the bottom one-fifth of the bag was filled with squishy abdominal discharge. Ah, but there was more.

People still refuse to believe me when I tell them this, but I swear it's true: there was duct tape on the wing. Actual, honest-to-goodness duct tape. I'm not sure what its purpose was, or if it was even serving any purpose at all, but there was an unmistakable square of duct tape on the right wing. All my classmates and I came up with elaborate stories trying to explain the presence of the duct tape. It was a great exercise in creative story-telling.

And then there was the flight itself. Apparently, we took to the air during the one evening of the millenium when all the random winds in the world coalesced at one point on the planet, and that one point was wherever our little duct taped Pakistani airplane wanted to be. Turbulence does not BEGIN to describe the bumping and jostling we endured and the insane ups and downs and tilts and. . . and. . . I'm getting nauseous just typing about it. In other words, we learned rather quickly why there was a goodly portion of residue in the airline discomfort bag.

Of course, as an 18 year-old who couldn't conceive of the possibility of the grim reaper sitting next to me with his scythe at the ready, I thought the flight was super great fun. Me and my fellow classmates had our arms raised in rollercoaster-riding style, thinking for all the world that the flight was an absolute hoot, while all around us people were rocking back and forth and praying and weeping. Wussies.

4. When did you know you were an adult? i.e. what event made you stop and recognize that you were no longer a member of "those damned kids"?
I'll have to let you know when that happens.

5. Why do you blog?
Because I have to do SOMETHING when I'm slacking at work, and solitaire and minesweeper just weren't cutting it any more. Actually, I started because I always wanted to have a personal journal, but jotting with pen and paper seemed boring and unfulfilling, and then Jen offered to create this blogspot template for me, and I've been jotting down things ever since. And I'll continue to do so because this blog has proven to be an invaluable tool for strengthening my writing skills and mining for ideas for columns. Also, it's been crucial for developing my ability to deconstruct arguments with which I disagree, particularly when Jill Nelson ascends her soapbox and spews forth her meaningless blather. There you go, that's your answer: I blog so that I can rip on Jill Nelson. Next question.

6. How does your real life persona compare to your blogger one?
Pretty much the same, except I'm far more coherent here than in real life. In real life, when I try to argue with someone, I tend to trip over my thoughts and my dialogue spills forth in disjointed sentences that I have to reel in try to make sense of.

Posted by Ryan at August 15, 2003 10:36 AM
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