Saturday, July 9, 2011

I'm a genius

What we have here is the setup I use in order to keep the floor from  getting soaked and rotting away due to the leaky air conditioner in my  room.  See, the thing is, my AC drips water from the front all over the window sill, which then drips down onto the floor.  I think it's supposed to drip out the back instead of the front, but go figure.  At least it blows cool air... but not when it's raining, or immediately after it rains.  For some reason, when water gets inside, it slows the machinery down and it just sits there and barely hums, gasping out tepid air until all the rain water has either evaporated or leaked out onto the floor.  I don't know why it does that, but then again I'm absolutely convinced that it's because my AC is allergic to water.  That would explain why it's always vomiting the stuff out the front end instead of disposing of it quietly out the back end, with dignity, like normal AC's do.

Anywho, after a week or two of just letting it leak, the floor directly underneath the window becomes soaked and begins to mildew, filling the air with that pleasant scent of decay.  In order to combat this, I first tried stuffing a towel into the crevice which separates the bottom of the AC from the window sill.  This worked fine for about a day, until the towel became soaked and started dripping all over the floor anyway.  My next idea was to roll up another towel and stick it there under the window sill, thus catching the dripping water from the first towel when it became saturated.  The problem with this method was I had to keep switching out the soaked towels for dry ones, and I only have a limited number of towels.  Also, I would frequently forget about the towels and they'd just keep getting more and more soaked, with the damp area of the floor underneath the window sill growing larger and larger with each passing day.

Finally I got fed up with this ghetto bullcrap and contrived a semi-permanent solution which only required a minimum of effort.  I also used physics, which makes me a genius.  Here's what I did:

See what that is?  It's my laundry hamper sitting underneath my AC, filled with water.  See the towel jammed up in there between the bottom of the AC and hanging down into the hamper?  That's how the water goes into the hamper and not onto the floor, by soaking into the towel first.  See that hose stuck into the water and running out the window?  That's for draining the water out of the hamper, since after about 4 days it will fill up all the way to the top and start spilling over the edge.  I wonder where the heck all that water comes from, anyway.  The air?  Probably.  So my AC produces about 20 gallons of water a week by just sucking it right out of the air like magic.  My very own moisture farm, except it's a major pain in the ass and I don't live on Tatooine where a moisture farm might come in handy.  Still, that's physics at work right there, people.  The same physics that will eventually make moisture farming on the moon a practical reality.

On to the next step.  See that?  That's the back end of the AC, with the other end of the hose hanging out the window.  The whole setup is like a colostomy bag for my AC.  In order to get it to drain I have to siphon the water out of the hamper so that it gets from point A (the front of the AC) to point C (the ground outside), bypassing point B (the floor under the window sill) completely.  That's the physics part that makes me a genius, plus I use geometry.

I'll skip showing the part where I have to suck on the butt end of that filthy, nasty hose which has been sitting outside in the dirt and grass, exposed to the sun and rain and snow and all the elements of nature for the past two years, in order to get the siphoning started so the water will drain out of the colostomy hamper.  However, I will show the results.  See the water pouring out of the hose?  Once again, that's physics at work, people.  The same physics that will eventually allow mankind to land on the surface of the sun and retrieve a sample of sun rock for study back here on Earth.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Bullshit small talk at work

Customer: Crushes.

Description: Customer wants a pack of Camel Crushes.  I get them.

Difficulty:  Nonexistent. 

Observation: This most basic level of interaction bypasses any pretext of social dilly dallying.


Customer: Hey.
Me: Hey.

Customer: Pack of Camel Crushes.

Description: Simple acknowledgment of existence and simple item procurement.

Difficulty:  Simple, easy, almost no thinking involved.

Observation: The bare minimum of social pleasantries are observed. 


Customer: Hello.
Me: Hello.

Customer: Pack of Camel Crushes.

Description: Social formalities are introduced at the basic level with 'hello' as opposed to 'hey' or simply an ineffectual grunt.

Difficulty:  Still simple and easy, but the vague threat of further interaction beyond the basic 'money for smokes' concept lingers.

Observation: When the customer actually says hello, I usually feel compelled to make eye contact, and body language is thrown into the equation.  The possibility that more words will have to be thought up and said could lead to further complexities.


Customer: How's it going?
Me: Pretty good.

Customer: Pack of Camel Crushes.

Description: A little harder; the next level of basic social interaction.  A query for information, necessitating an appropriate response in addition to procuring the indicated item.

Difficulty: Simplicity is sacrificed for social niceties, introducing the possibility that further social interaction may be required at least a rudimentary level.  However, it's usually safe to assume that no undue thinking will need to occur.

Observation: Although a step up from simple acknowledgment, this exchange occurs almost automatically, with both parties usually aware at an unconscious level that the customer has no real interest in how things are actually going.


Customer: How ya doing?
Me: Ok.
Customer: Pack of Camel Crushes.

Or, alternately...

Customer: How ya doing?
Me: Well, I twisted my back the other -
Customer: Pack of Camel Crushes.

Description: Comparable to 'how's it going'.

Difficulty: Possibly tiring.  Although this exchange is still largely automatic, it is more personal.  The probability of a simple exchange decreases with possibility that the ego may become involved.

Observation: A couple of times I've found myself interrupted, embarrassed, and pissed off when I tried to answer this question with something other than the stock reply.  It's important to remember that all the customer really gives a flying horses patoot about is getting those Camel Crushes from point A to point B.


Customer: Hey man.  What's up?  How's it going?  Say, do you think I could... you know... or do you think you could, I mean, you know... do that payroll thing?  For a couple of beers and a couple of packs of Camel Crushes?  And I can get you back on Friday?
Me: Aw crap...

Description: A blitzkrieg of social pleasantries forces thinking and talking into primary mode.

Difficulty: Exhausting.

Observation: This happens because I'm too damn nice, or stupid.  I don't know which yet.  It all started when I let one guy payroll a pack of cigarettes, and then another.  At first it was just ten bucks a week, but then I started doing it for Bruce, and then for Wheels too... and the next thing I knew, I was letting these guys payroll anywhere from 10 to 40 bucks a week each, resulting in a significant percentage of my check this week being payrolled away on cigarettes and booze for these parasites.  I know what it says in the Bible: "If somebody asks you for your shirt, give them your coat too."  I'm beginning to wonder if that should apply to beer and cigarettes.


Customer: Hey.
Me: Hey.
Customer: This and a pack of Camel Crushes.
Me: Got your ID on yer?
Customer: Yeah man, sure.
Me: I need a current one, not just this temporary piece of paper.
Customer: I got this from the DMV.
Me: Do you have the expired plastic one to go with it?
Customer: No.
Me: I'm sorry man, but I can't sell you the beer.
Customer: Well hell, why do they give you the temporary one then?
Me: Sorry.
Customer: Can she buy it for me?
Me: No, that would be illegal.  It's a state law, sorry.  The TABC has been giving $2500.00 tickets to us for selling to people with expired ID's, and -
Customer: Fuck it.
Me: Again, I'm sorry, but I'm not risking a $2500.00 ticket and jail just so you can catch a buzz.

Description: Things fall apart, the center does not hold.  The World War Three of customer interaction.

Difficulty: Yeesh.

Observation: Screw it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hipster sighting

"Did you see the tight pants that guy was wearing?" asked Brittney, referring to a customer who had just exited the store.

"Yup.  And speaking of hipsters, that's a definite hipster fashion," I said, since we had just been talking about hipsters a few minutes earlier.  I thought about the time when I used to wear tight pants like that, back when it was a rock & roll thing.  "I used to wear them tight too, about twenty years ago when it was the glam rock style," I remarked as I leaned down and grabbed the excess material of my pants leg around my calf.  I bunched it into my fist, tightening it until it clung to my leg all around.  "See?"

Brittney observed the effect.  She laughed and said, "His were tight in the butt." 

I let go of my pants leg and stood up.  I reached around reflexively and grabbed the seat of my pants and then let go quickly, suddenly self conscious.  "Oh.  Yeah... well, he probably wasn't a hipster.  And mine weren't ever tight in the butt," I lied.

"Are you gonna go back to that style now that it's the 'in' thing again?" asked Brittney.

I imagined trying to pull off that style now and pictured my belly spilling over the thirty inch waist of the tight glam rock jeans I used to wear back in the early 90's.  I frowned.  "I don't think so," I said.  "I don't want to be mistaken for a hipster..."

At that moment I glanced outside and watched as a scooter pulled up to the gas pump.  Aha, I thought to myself.  Now that is a bona-fide hipster!  A hipster sighting is always a cause for some fun for me at work, since identifying one isn't always cut and dried.  This one, however, was a dead ringer.  I pointed the specimen out to Britney.  "See there, the guy with the scooter?  That's a for sure hipster.  And a scooter is always a good sign."

Brittney followed my finger to where I was pointing and laughed. "You're silly," she said.  "Weren't you just saying that you wanted a scooter an hour ago?"

I rolled my eyes.  "That's different.  I want one for getting from point A to point B, not so I can display my non-conformity by conforming to the vague rules of an anti-conformist sub culture."

Brittney rolled her eyes at me and smiled.  "Uh huh."

I shook my head and laughed.  "A hipster I am definitely NOT.  I'm stuck in the entirely different sub-culture of early 90's grunge.  At least most people have heard of my music."

"Yeah, like most people have heard of Pinback."

Brittney will never know how close my brain had come to imploding just then.  "Uh... anywho," I said after I'd recovered.  "Back to the hipster.  You know how I can tell he's a hipster?"  The guy dismounted his scooter and began fiddling with the gas pump.  "First off, he's riding a scooter.  That isn't a dead giveaway in itself, but it's a good indicator."  We observed as he abruptly left off what he was doing, and as he approached the store I noted his attire.  He was wearing tight fitting cut-off blue jean shorts, Chuck Taylors with black socks, and a black t-shirt with a picture of a pistol on the front with 'New York' printed in large letters above it.  He was also wearing a backwards baseball cap.

"Ok, see?" I remarked.  "He's wearing the tight skinny cut-offs.  See how tight they are?" 

"Yeah, those sure are some tight shorts," observed Brittney.  "How can he actually like them being that tight?"

"It isn't for the likes of us the question the ways of the hipster," I answered, eliciting laughter from both of us.

"See the black socks?" I said as I resumed my commentary.  "That means anti-establishment, to wear shorts with black socks.  And the t-shirt with the slogan that makes no sense... what the heck is that supposed to mean?  Probably something ironic that nobody has ever heard of or understands except for him and whoever he invites into his loft apartment."  I sure as heck didn't know what it was supposed to mean, unless it was just a simple statement about gun violence in The Big Apple, done in an obvious way as an attempt to be confusing and profound at the same time.  Typical.  "Oh, and look," I said.  "He's even got the country hick baseball cap with the tall flat front."

At that moment the hipster came into the store and wandered back to the cooler.  "Hey," I said to Brittney.  "Leah told me that she teased Nick once about being a hipster.  I think he might be a closet hipster."

"Does he have rich parents?" Brittney asked, since earlier I had been describing hipsters as decadent youths, eternally dependent on their wealthy parents to support them throughout their twenties and thirties so that they could spend all of their time observing the philosophical irony of something or another, while at the same time acting like they didn't care about it.  While drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon.  Or lattes.

I thought about it for a second.  "Hmmm... I dunno," I replied.  "He was a hobo for a while and used to jump trains a lot.  He definitely lived a kind of homeless lifestyle for some time.  Maybe he's a hobo-hipster.  A hobster." 

This got a laugh out of Brittney.  "Oh man, did that make things worse?" she said, referring to my situation concerning Nick.

At that moment the hipster came up to my register.  He placed a soda on the counter and asked for two dollars in gas.

"Well, it didn't help anything, but that's just me being retarded," I said as I rang up the soda and set the gas pump.  "I actually liked Nick just fine before," I said.  "We were right on the cusp of becoming good friends when things fell apart.  I even asked him to be my Godfather once."  I met Brittney's eyes and laughed.  "Man, that would have been awkward."

"Wow.  Yeah, I remember you telling me about that," said Brittney.  "Did he wear the skinny hipster jeans?"

At that moment the hipster at my register gave Brittney a brief but pointed glance, then took his change and exited the store.

"Did you see that?" Brittney said excitedly.  "He looked up when I said hipster!" 

"We've just made an authentic hipster sighting.  We were quite lucky... the hipster in it's natural environment is an elusive creature," I remarked.

Brittney laughed and shook her head.  "You're silly," she said.