#801 When you know your remote control so well you don’t need to look at the buttons

You can rule the remoteEver tried to turn on someone else’s TV?

Brother, we both know that’s a tough slog, probably involving a couple of these fine moves:

1. The Brand Name Match-Up. You stare at three identical-looking black remotes on their coffee table and play Sherlock by matching brand names. You eye the Panasonic logo in the corner of the TV and search for the Panasonic remote on the table. Elementary, my dear Watson.

2. The Walk-Up. When you can’t get anything to turn on, you toss all the remotes on the couch in a fit of frustration and just walk up to the front of the TV to search for the Power button. This works until you want to watch a movie and can’t find a TV/Video or Input button on there.

Looking for clues

3. The Out Of Order Lecture. Your buddy walks in the room and flips out when he sees you pushing buttons and Spanish subtitles scrolling across the screen. “What did you press first?,” he asks, ripping the remotes out of your hand like puppies you happen to be strangling. “You’re doing it all out of order!” He might throw in some sarcastic jabs at the end too like “How could the TV work without the cable box?” or “No, no, no, you have to flip the Input switch on the Universal first. Idiot!”

If you feel this pain, then you know how rewarding it can be when you finally master your TV remote. You don’t see yourself changing, but one day you look in the mirror and notice you’ve become an Channel Surfing All-Star. And that’s something worth celebrating.

First you ace the ups and the downs and then you ace the number pad, even after the little nipply thing wears off the 5. After you get that, there’s no stopping you. Mute, input / output, sleep, it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to look and your TV watching efficiency zooms through the roof. Nobody flips channels like you. Nobody cranks the volume when someone starts vacuuming like you. And nobody pushes Mute and answers the phone in one ring like you.

Nobody can touch you, baby.

You made it.

AWESOME!

Flip loud, flip proud

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#802 Watching something download super fast

You have no idea how excited I was to see this.

The first website I ever visited was Yahoo.com.

The whole sordid affair went down in the mid-90s on a school trip to the Science Center. While other kids from our class learned how paper was made or watched Imax films about the Amazon, my friends and I raced to a dim room at the back stuffed with clunky computer monitors sitting in a big circle. See, we had read ads in the paper about a new exhibit showcasing the Informative Superb-highway and we wanted to experience the straight dope first hand.

Unfortunately for us, geeks from other school districts were keen to surfboard the internetwork as well, because the room was jam-packed with sweaty nerds in long lines waiting for a small half-hour turn to ride the wave.

Learn about the science of the ocean and the art of lifeguarding

Well, we waited and waited and waited and eventually scored a yellow, plastic stool in front of a big screen. Giddy as schoolgirls, we decided to begin expanding our minds and broadening our horizons by researching the hit TV show Baywatch. This was because we had many questions about the show.

Now remember — this was the mid-90s here. Cell phones looked like briefcases, encyclopedias filled home libraries, and young kids with dirty faces stood on street corner soap boxes hocking the evening edition on your way home from work.

old_cellphoneIn these dark times, the only website any of us had heard of was Yahoo, so after spending ten minutes finding and opening Netscape Navigator, we typed in yahoo.com, hit enter, and began waiting for this new dawn of civilization to drop down upon our young and eager heads.

But first …

… there was nothing.

Nothing at all.

Just a blank screen in a dim room filled with nerves, teen sweat, and yellow, plastic stools. We waited and prayed until eventually heart-pounding teasers dribbled out at the bottom of the screen. “Contacting server,” it pledged robotically first, which sounded promising until it updated itself with only “Connecting to server” a couple minutes later. Then a few minutes later “Transferring data” had finally begun, and big red pixels slowly began dropping into view.

But it was too late.

Our half hour was finishing up.

A red herring

Yes, our big dreams and wild ideas of this magical fantasyland on the other end of the wires dissolved into a page full of text, broken image links, and a complete lack of Baywatch. We walked away that day broken hearted.

Some of us cried.

But now, up here in 2018, when I look back on that long bus ride home, I smile because it reminds me of how far we’ve come. Websites load in the blink of an eye, mp3s zip home in a few seconds, and giant video clips of skateboarding accidents download to our monitors in no time flat.

Watching something download really fast sure does get your juices flowing, doesn’t it? As those little bar-graphs fill up, you just rub your palms together and cackle like a madman. I mean, things are just so good now. It’s gotten to the point where David Hasselhoff can appear shirtless on your screen without you even noticing he’s coming.

AWESOME!

david-hasselhoff1

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

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#804 Gym pain aka Gym burn aka Hot muscles

10 pounds of pain

Believe it, folks: I went to the gym last Saturday. Yes, flabby belly, spaghetti-thin arms, bright white sneakers and all.

Though it may surprise you, I am not a walking talking hulk of a man. No, I’m a scrawny knee-pushups kind of guy who spends more time taking sips of water, talking to the maintenance folks, and figuring out how the machines work than I do actually working out. I don’t tone my pecs, blast my quads, or crush my delts. If my trip to the gym was a short film it would be called Stretching In Trackpants.

But anyway, last Saturday.

Hungry for life

It was 8:45am and I was sipping some water, trying to figure out how the benchpress worked, when a steady stream of spandex-clad seniors suddenly brisked by me with stern brows and towels draped over their shoulders. Honestly, you might have thought there was a sale on oatmeal or a Wheel of Fortune marathon about the start at the back of the gym, because these grannies and granpies were on a mission. When I asked a couple maintenance guys what was going on, they told me Boot Camp was about to start.

My mind immediately flashed to visions of crawling through muddy trenches in baggy camo, swinging over frothy rapids on jungle vines, and standing on the roof of a rusty, beat-up car firing a machine gun into the sky with one hand. I can’t explain these images, but they compelled me to follow the Wrinkle March into the aerobics room.

And I know I don’t need to tell you all what happened next.

She wore this while she screamed

Large, adult-sized Fisher Price plastic and foam bits were strewn all over the floor, thumping dance music started bumping over the speakers, and a headband-clad Drill Sergeant screamed the sweat out of us. Adrenaline racing, I stepped-out, stepped-down, and moved barbells all around. I pushed up, pushed back, and prayed softly. After about fifteen minutes, most of the old folks were barely sweating, while I keeled over, my mouth sucking back dry, sweaty air while a sharp, knife-like pain quietly stabbed into my gut. And the whole time Sergeant Purple Leg Warmers was barking at me to keeping going, don’t stop, two more minutes, one more minute, and rotate!

It was intense.

By the end, I was a Jello-blob of hot muscles and shin splints. I felt like I’d fallen down a hundred flights of stairs and landed on a cactus patch. I was in pain and agony … but you know what?

It felt good.

I felt like I made it. I felt like I did something. There was a tingling buzz of satisfaction burning in my shredded calves, a lingering ache of pride in the dirtbike tracks riding up my stomach for three days, and a quiet happiness with the gym pain I’d inflicted upon myself.

When you reach up higher than you’ve reached before, give a little more than you gave before, or dig deep to your core to end up sprained and sore, well around here we say that’s a little something called

AWESOME!

jello-legsPhotos from: here, here, here, and here

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#807 Your Keeper Pen

Friends forever

You know the one.

The cap is long gone, the end is chewed up, but that trusty ballpoint, she keeps flowing like Niagara Falls.

Loyal, failsafe, and inky to the bone, that one really good pen might be stashed on top of the fridge, deep in a dresser drawer, or down at the bottom of the pencil case.

But it’s stashed, and it’s handy, and it does the deed just fine.

Now sure, once in a while you might even think you’ve lost your trusty, old pen. You don’t see her for a few weeks, maybe a few months. You figure she accidentally rolled under the stove, mistakenly got garbaged, or worse — was hoodwinked by a callous and immoral Pen Thief masquerading as a fiddle-dee-dee, aw-shucks Pen Borrower.

There is a period of grieving, but then one random day you just find her again, sure enough — sleeping soundly in your winter jacket pocket or lounging around carefree in the old Scrabble box. It always seems to happen when you least expect it.

And isn’t there just something about that one really good pen that’s always kicking around? Yes, in these days of text messages, kitchen whiteboards, and visual voicemail, it’s nice having a steady-eddy pen by your side. Because that pen is something real. Something honest.

Something worth believing in.

AWESOME!

Just like the pen

Photos from: here and here

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#808 Coming home after a really long day to the smell of someone cooking dinner

Time to check out for the dayBrain boggled, pants greasy, heels too high, or tie too tight?

Can feel your heartbeat in your temples? Does your bad breath taste like paint? Is your carpal tunnel syndroming? Because if so, Office Joe, then maybe it’s been a long day. Maybe you stapled too many TPS reports, got buried under too much homework, or had an inky run-in with a jammed photocopier at the end of the day.

Who has half an hour to sort this out?But you scrape by, you scrape home, you scrape up to the front door — tired and sore, aching from war — as the sun sets behind you, the traffic jams behind you, and your stomach rumbles inside you. That bagel you scarfed seven hours ago is a distant memory but you’re much too exhausted to do anything besides dial for pizza.

Not doing the trickAnd that’s what makes it so great when you pop open your door and catch a hot whiff of something sizzling in the kitchen. Even though your clogged-up, toner-infused brain can barely soak up anything more, you somehow manage to piece things together: Dinner me eat. Food yes now.

And suddenly there is new life.

Your lips slowly curl at the corners, your nose slowly sniffs at the nostrils, and there’s a faint and distant chime as your eyes flash a quick cartoonish sparkle. Yes, you’ve got new energy now so you kick off your shoes, peel off those sweaty socks, and let the saliva start to flow for some tasty eats cooked up hot and fresh by someone you love.

AWESOME!

dig-in

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#809 The first day in new socks

Don't tell me this doesn't excite you

Alright, let’s break it down.

New Socks Day is great for four big reasons:

1. Treat for your feet. Face it, your feet got it bad. Big toes get stubbed, dry skin gets rubbed, and bunions grow on your baby toe. Squeeze those caked and cracked pita-bread heels into tight shoes all day and you’ll soon agree: Your feet deserve to be treated like royalty. On New Socks Day, feet aren’t just forgotten warriors clad in an unprotective armor of toe-knuckle hair, bulging veins, and dry skin. No, they rise into king and queens — lovingly cloaked in royal gowns, bathed softly in soft cotton, and tenderly hugged in fresh factory fabric.

Hard and crackly

2. The Slip n’ Slide. New socks grease your feet and let you move with reckless abandon across the hardwood floors of this great land.

3. High-Quality Toe Jam. What’s more gratifying that painstakingly picking out massive chunks of toe jam at the end of New Socks Day? When I do the deed, I pretend I’m a top-notch surgeon in baby-blue scrubs, leaning over a sliced-open stomach in the middle of a high-stakes surgery and then, in a dramatic moment, I just start lifting out these bloody pliers again and again, yanking out glass shard after glass shard, as everybody in the viewing gallery jumps to their feet and erupts in cheers. Could just be me, though.

Time to dig for toe jam

4. Clean Dream. Sure, today your socks may be bright white, but we both know they’ll never be this clean again. Tiny holes will grow, heels will brown or yellow, and the elastic will fray and rip away. One day you’ll hold a sock from the dryer up in front of your face and actually wonder if it’s clean or dirty. That’s when the Clean Dream is over and it’s time to go shopping and start again.

So next time you slowly peel on a fresh pair of socks, just smile because you know you’re in for a great New Socks Day.

AWESOME!

Toe Jam Heaven?

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