#119 Watching butter melt on hot toast

When I drop a hard chunk of butter onto a slice of hot toast I like to pretend I’m an adventure guide helping a pack of rich tourists through some rough jungle terrain when we suddenly stumble upon some dangerous quicksand in our path. “Stay back,” I caution, squinting my eyebrow and holding my arm firmly to my side, causing the portly Hawaiian-shirt-and-binocular covered tourists to stop and stumble into each other.

“Shhhhh … watch this,” I whisper to them, my eyes popping wide as I fumble frantically in my backpack. They stare breathlessly in their brand new Tilley hats and hiking boots as I peel out a giant hunk of butter and toss it straight ahead of us. Toucans squawk overhead and snakes rattle in the bushes as we hold our breaths and watch the butter slowly melt into the unforgiving sea of brown. “Just what I thought,” I say to them.

“We’re toast.”

Seriously, that’s what watching butter melt on hot toast feels like to me. It’s mesmerizing seeing that white fatty block that came from a cow dissolve into invisible liquid and soak deeply into the crispy crust of hot bread. Next it’s time to scratch the butter in further with a knife … smear sticky sweet jam all over it … and then chomp right in.


Photos from: here

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#120 Anything served to you sizzling or just plain on fire at a restaurant

It all started with Murg Mirch Tikka.

About ten years ago when I was crashing full-time at my parent’s place my friend Stephen and I would drive downtown for the weekend jams. Of course, by weekend jams I mean chicken finger dinners at local pubs, birthday dinners at busy restaurants, and occasional nights full of sweaty dancing and street meat.

Back then a few of our friends loved Indian food so every few weeks we’d end up at a samosa-filled joint filled with pillowy soft naans and steaming curries that absorbed into all of our clothes. Whenever we ate there Stephen would get something called Murg Mirch Tikka, which ended up just being three massive hunks of red sizzling chicken. He would go crazy for the stuff, taking another order to go and stashing it in his trunk for the drive home. Sure, it was delicious, but I can’t explain his torrid love affair except to say that it sure is great when anything is served to you sizzling or on fire at a restaurant:

1. Chicken fajitas. I was always a sucker for the fajitas (pronounced “fa-jai-tas”) while my friend Stephen insisted they were just a way the kitchen to outsource labor costs. “I came here to eat,” he’d say, shoveling a greasy nacho into a pool of watery salsa. “Not spend half my time building my dinner.” Sure, the man had a point, but Stephen’s fat burrito wasn’t saying much while I enjoyed my sexy sizzling platter.

2. Saganaki at a Greek restaurant. Okay, have you had this before? It’s a hot pan of extremely salty cheese that’s lit on fire just before it’s served to you. The staff circles around and yells “Opa!” before dropping this appetizer in front of you and your friends. Perfect for anyone hoping to destroy their appetite by eating a pound of cheese.

3. Rice Krispies at a motel buffet. You’ve hit rock bottom if you count talking cereal, though I suppose it does beat the watered down orange drink, shiny rock-hard muffins, and imitation brand Froot Loops at the rest of the buffet.

4. Korean grilling. Okay, admittedly the thin strips of beef at a Korean Grill restaurant are served to you raw, but they sure do get sizzling when you toss them in that grill in the middle of your table. Cook ’em up, eat ’em up, go home happy.

5. Dessert on fire. Now I’ve never had this but I’ve heard epic tales of banana flambe and some rum-soaked cake lit on fire and brought to the table. Best enjoyed after a dinner of saganaki, chicken fajitas, and flaming Sambuca shots.

Yes, facts are facts, everybody: when something’s served sizzling or on fire at a restaurant it’s a beautiful moment. Conversation stops, jaws drop, and our entire body starts amping up for the first bite.


Photos from: here and here

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#121 When you’re fast forwarding your PVR and you stop exactly when your show starts

Does your station have a tell?

Sometimes it’s that little commercial before the break ends where the network just advertises itself for fifteen seconds. “Tune in afterwards for the news,” they say, as your eagle eyes and trigger thumb pound the “Play” button before the show begins.

Stop too early and you’ll be forced to sit through a painful seven or eight seconds of commercials. Stop too late and you’ll see your show whiz by while simultaneously trying to rewind and not pay attention at the same time.

Stop just right and you’re laughing.

Stop just right and you’re


Photo from: here

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#122 Using nature as a fridge or freezer

There were once no fridges.

Rooting beyond the purple stuff for Sunny D, popping open last night’s salty leftovers, and fishing out oily salad dressing that expired two years ago were dreams, dreams, they were all just dreams. Back then We The People stored food with uncold techniques like canning, drying, salting, and pickling. As you can imagine, dinner most nights was beef jerky, pickled onions, and canned peaches. And maybe a glass of pond water if you were lucky.

Of course, nowadays most of us have big humming boxes keeping our cola cold, milk fresh, and veggies crisp. It’s easy to take them for granted and get used to the ever-present convenience, but when your fridge is jammed, broken, or without power, you notice all right. Clumpy milk and hot yogurt get noticed all right.

That’s why it’s great using nature as a fridge or freezer.

If you’re from the snowy side of the planet you love tossing a few cans of Coke in a fishnet in a chilly lake, leaving frozen burgers outside by the barbecue, or planting a bottle of white wine on the back porch before the guests come over. Sure, sometimes the drinks get a little too cold or a bit covered in snow, but more often than not Ma Nature does the job jussssssssssssst fine.


Photos from: here and here

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#123 When someone in the movies gets hit in the crotch

Did you grow up with funny home video clips on TV?

I remember lying on my stomach in front of the TV with my face in my hands laughing out loud at Bob Saget’s fuzzy scenes and high-pitched voiceovers. My cousins and I would start rolling till tears streamed down our cheeks as cats fell off TVs, kiddie pools exploded, and old people’s pants fell down on the dance floor. Of course, when you took away those clips it was pretty much just a giant compilation of people getting nailed in the face by basketballs and smacked in the crotch by their hockey-stick-wielding toddlers.

And for some reason there’s just something universally funny about seeing someone on TV or in a movie get hit in the crotch. The absurdity of the situation gives us the nervous laughs, the surprise laughs, or maybe just a I’m-glad-that-didn’t-happen-to-me.


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#124 Your first job

I used to run a sandwich shop.

Yes, I was a rootin’, tootin’, mayo-squirting king in the dirty mustard-smeared sandwich underbelly. I helped manage about a dozen high school kids and together we fired sandwiches down an assembly line, into paper bags, and right on out the door. I tell you, we served up Deliciousness with a capital D, and I miss those long days full of dirty aprons, melted cheese, and unlimited refills.

Part of my job at the sandwich shop was conducting interviews. I ended up sitting down with a lot of teenagers who were applying for their first ever job. They came in toting dog-eared resumes that looked like the Microsoft Word template complete with skills like “Very punctual” and hobbies like “Insert hobbies here.”

I kept a notepad along the way and here are some actual excerpts from interviews I conducted back then.

Hold onto your mesh hats because we’re going in:

Me: So what did you end up doing when it got really busy at the sandwich place you used to work at?
Her: Oh, it wasn’t really a problem. We usually just locked the doors until we got through the lineup.
Me: You locked the doors?
Her: (confused) Yeah, but just until the line died down. We opened it up right after.
Me: Oh. That’s good.

Her: Also, another reason you should hire me is because I’ve always got along really well with people. …Well, except for a few people.
Me: What did you do in those situations? How did you guys figure things out?
Her: Well, I was her manager, so I just forced her to wash dishes in the back so no one would see her. Then she quit.
Me: Oh. Okay.
Her: And the other woman I didn’t like was really old.
Me: She was really old?
Her: Yeah. Way too old. Really old.
Me: Okay.

Me: Do you have a way to get to work?
Her: Well, I don’t have a car. But I might be able to take my sister’s car.
Me: Okay, cool. That’s not a problem?
Her: No. My sister’s boyfriend just… well, I don’t want to talk about it. My sister’s boyfriend just did something … and now she’s going to the East Coast… so I can probably get her car.
Me: Neat.

Me: What’s something you liked and didn’t like about your last job?
Her: I liked it because everyone was nice.
Me: What did they do?
Her: They were really nice.
Me: Okay. Was there anything you didn’t like about it?
Her: Some of the people weren’t that nice.
Me: So they weren’t all nice?
Her: No. I guess some were nice. Some weren’t nice.

Her: So yeah, I REALLY need a job right now.
Me: How long have you been looking?
Her: About a week. My insurance ran out last week.
Me: Oh, so you just started looking when it ran out then?
Her: Yeah. But I totally scored. I squeezed nine months out of them.
Me: … Congratulations.

Me: So do you have any questions about the restaurant?
Him: Yeah. Do you have an assorted sub?
Me: An assorted sub? Yeah. There are two different types of assorted subs.
Him: Cool. What’s on the first one?
Me: Well, it’s an Italian so it’s got salami, pepperoni, and ham.
Him: What about cheese?
Me: Yeah, there’s mozzarella.
Him: Sauce?
Me: Sauce? Oh, yeah, there’s vinaigrette on there. And it has tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and black olives, too.
Him: Hmm. …What’s on your steak sub?
(ten more minutes of him quizzing me on subs for no apparent reason)

Me: So you like to read?
Him: Yeah. I love reading. I really like fiction.
Me: That’s great. Are you reading anything right now?
Him: Yeah. Have you heard of a basketball player named Dennis Rodman?
Me: Yeah … are you reading Bad As I Want To Be? His autobiography?
Him: Yeah! (pause) It’s really good!
Me: Neat.

Me: So grab whatever you want. Lunch is on me. Then we’ll sit down and talk for a few minutes.
Him: I’ll have a turkey sub.
Girl behind counter: What size would you like?
Him: The biggest one.
Girl behind counter: Sure, anything else?
Him: Large coke.
Girl behind counter: Sure, anything else?
Him: Can I get a big cookie?
Girl behind counter: Sure, anything else?
Him: (looking at menu) Umm….
Me: (laughing) Do you eat at home?
Him: Yes.
Me: (laughing)
Him: (deadpan)
Me: (deadpan)
Him: (deadpan)

Me: So tell me about some of your hobbies.
Her: (ten second pause) Um… (giggles)
Me: Something you do after school?
Her: (lightbulb going off) Instant messenger?!
Me: Oh, yeah, Instant Messenger?
Her: Yeah! I like chatting with my friends.
Me: That’s cool. Is there anything else you do for fun? On any school teams or clubs?
Her: (ten second pause) Um… hanging out?
Me: Hanging out?
Her: (trying to explain it to me) Hanging out with friends?
Me: Right. Hanging out with friends.
Her: (happy I understand) Yeah!

Me: I’m going to give you a situation and I’d like to see how you think about it when you tell me what you would do, okay?
Her: Okay.
Me: Okay. You’re working the cash register. Suddenly a woman comes up to you holding a piece of plastic and complains that she found the plastic in her sandwich. She says to you that you broke her tooth and owe her a thousand dollars. What would you do?
Her: (scared face)
Me: It’s okay. There’s no right or wrong answer. Take your time.
(thirty seconds elapse)
Her: (holding scared face)
Me: It’s okay. Don’t worry. Take your time to think about it.
(thirty seconds elapse)
Her: Um. (giggles) Okay. I’m ready.
Me: Okay. What would you do?
Her: I’d give her the money.
Me: You’d give her a thousand dollars from the till?
Her: (realizing it probably sounds bad) Oh…uh, no! (long pause) I mean I’d give her my PERSONAL money.
Me: You’d give her a thousand dollars from your wallet?
Her: Yes.
(ten seconds of us staring at each other and blinking)

Me: Can you tell me about a problem you had while working with a group and how you resolved that problem?
Her: Um… (giggle)
Me: It’s okay. Take your time.
Her: Okay. (30 seconds pass) Okay, one time in marketing class I didn’t like my group so I did something else.
Me: You mean you left the group?
Her: Yeah. I asked the teacher if I could leave the group and she said yes. So I did some report or something.
Me: Oh, okay. And how did the rest of the group feel about it?
Her: I don’t know. They all stopped talking to me.
Me: Oh… okay. Well what didn’t you like about working with them?
Her: They were just ignorant.
Me: Can you tell me more about the project?
Her: Well, we had to make up a product and then advertise it. And we got cereal. But they wanted to make a cereal that was made out of rocks.
Me: Rocks?
Her: Yeah, I know. That’s why I left the group.
Me: They wanted to make a cereal out of rocks?
Her: Yeah.

Me: So you said you took marketing. What’s something you think we could do to help advertise the store?
Her: (thirty second pause, then a worried look)
Me: It’s okay. There’s no right or wrong answer. I’m just interested to see what you’d do to advertise.
Her: (nods, then another thirty second pause) Okay. I’m ready.
Me: Okay.
Her: I think you should do a whole bunch of TV ads?
Me: In this city?
Her: Yeah.
Me: Okay, okay, cool idea. What do you think that would cost?
Her: I don’t know. Probably a million dollars?

Me: How do you like your high school?
Her: It’s okay, but the teachers don’t like the kids. They think they know everything but they don’t. And all the kids are ignorant.
Me: Really? What are they ignorant about?
Her: Everything.
Me: (laughing) You mean because they think that a good breakfast cereal would be one with rocks in it?
Her: (confused look)

Well, honest and eager, we all once walked into our first job interview sweating buckets, too. But we learned a lot, we grew a lot, and eventually one day we got busy working.

So let’s stop for a moment today and remember that everything we know about work started way back on that very first gig. Whether it was flipping burgers, babysitting kids, or washing cars, all those of experiences added up to getting right where we are. Growing on the job, making office pals, and making a difference are all things worth respecting.

Today we say thanks to the job that started it all.


Photos from: here, here, here, and here

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#127 Little kids riding bikes

Babies stay put.

Set a newborn on a couch cushion, kitchen table, or pull-out bed and it just lies around making spit bubbles.

And sure, baby grows older, starts crawling, starts bashing into walls, but it isn’t until she begins riding a bike that everything really opens up. Yes, this is when it first becomes clear that: We taught them to control a machine!

Seeing little kids on bikes is watching them realize how far the world really goes. Pedaling around the block, racing to the store, everything seems closer together, and every day they want a little more. Soon they’ll be driving cars and flying planes to stars and zipping down highways, across oceans, and into brave new worlds.

When you see little kids on bikes make sure you smile and nod at these brave explorers.

Because today it’s the neighborhood.

And tomorrow it’s the world.


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Photos from: here and here

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#128 Whispering movie reviews with your friends while the trailers roll at the movie theater

Making movies ain’t easy.

Script ideas are batted around in basements, screenplays are slaved over under dim desk lamps, edits are massaged for months in coffee shop corners, ideas are pitched in glassy boardrooms, storyboards are drawn in dusty studios, phone calls are made and meetings are had, and months and months and millions and millions are spent assembling a cast and crew, scouting locations, and shooting every single second of the next big Hollywood blockbuster.

But all bets are off when the trailer is finally screened before your movie begins.

Slurping your Coke, elbowing the armrest, your eyeballs flash with explosions before whispering to your friend.

“That looks terrible.”


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