I Trump the Soft Card

I woke up the other day, flipped on the TV and witnessed someone reaching deep inside themselves to reveal a sensitive, emotional, caring soul tortured by all that is wrong in the world.  As this person struggled to overcome the stress of the situation and hold back the tears of frustration, I found myself thinking about two things.  

The first of these centered upon public displays of emotions.   I do not consider myself a cold person,  but I was not raised to let emotions control my actions or influence my decisions.  My father is a role model for rock steady and always a voice of reason or support in any tough situation.  I am sure there were times when he felt scared, saddened or uncertain, but I do not remember a single time when he showed that side of the situation when my brothers and I needed guidance, a helping hand or calming in an uncomfortable situation.  Did he inherit this trait from his parents, is it a byproduct of tougher times, a necessary characteristic of being a soldier in the Korean War, a conscious decision to raise his children to meet the demands of life or a union of all of these?  I honestly don’t know the reason, but what I do know from past experience is to trust the calm, focused and confident individual who found the door out and not the person crying in the corner.  I have also spent many years in martial arts and competed against numerous opponents.  During the seconds we were touching gloves, I was focused on one and only one thing.   If he was looking down, he didn’t want to be there, if he was raging in my face he was likely to fall victim to every feint …. but the guy who locked on to your eyes and seemingly stared right past you had a mission and a confident plan to get there and therefore … a dangerous opponent…

 And then there was the second thing ….

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Weather Alert: γκρίζος

Today I had to drop by an OSF Prompt Care to have something checked (for those that know me, it was not because of another sports injury, but based on my history, that was probably a good guess).  Strangely enough, it was actually about 60 degrees out in the midwest.  I do not believe in Global Warming (along with at least 400 other top scientists), but this just happens to be a little strange for early January, particularly since it was suppose to rain and some dark clouds were rolling in.  While waiting for the nurse to take me back to see the doctor, a piercing siren blast came over the intercom followed by the statement “Weather Alert Grey, Weather Alert Grey” … followed by another siren blast.  I noticed that the various employees really didn’t take any action or for that matter show any real concern.  Curious, I started looking around in hopes of seeing some form of Rosetta Stone to help my decypher what exactly a Grey level alert was.  No such aid existed (at least that I could find during my cursory investigation).  I sat back down and sure enough the exact same alert came over the speakers again.  Finally catching a nurse’s eye, I gave the universal “what gives” command (you know, shoulders scrunched, palms up) in hopes she would give me some kind of clue.  Her response was to not be concerned until in gets to BLACK.  Now I am fascinated.  Not only did I not know what Grey was, there is apparently another color that is even worse – based on the color wheel I am guessing the darker the color the greater the threat to my well being.  “So what is Grey?” I asked and promptly learned that it meant a Tornado Watch…. yes I followed up, Black is a Tornado Warning.  So there you have it, if you are ever in a situation that uses a similar warning system, you can simply refer back to this entry.  I say refer since I doubt you will remember what the two colors I gave you are and what is more alarming to me is that it is not even intuitive.  Would it be too difficult to simply call out the specific alert…. Weather Alert: Dangerous Swirly Wind Thingy Possible.  I guess I may not understand the details on this scale, but what I do know is Grey in this context might as well have been Greek which is not exactly my language of choice in emergency situations.

Any Which Way But In

Last night I decided I require consistency in my life.  I came to this conclusion while attending the incredible Trans Siberian Orchestra concert at the Peoria Civic Center – which by the way is hands down the best rock concert you will ever attend – lights, pyro and high distortion shredding all at a reasonable price.  I’ll probably have an article in the future about my 3rd time seeing them, but my awakening came from a trip to the restroom.   If you recall my first journal entry, pedestrian traffic in the U.S. tends to follow the vehicle traffic which is rightside in, leftside out.  So as expected there are two doors to the men’s bathroom and by habit directed myself to the right side.  Just before entering I notice there are white letters painted on a yellow background that read “OUT”.  At first I was a little startled since I didn’t see them at all from the other side of the hall – then again, white on bright yellow is not the most genius color selection.  Having seen it though, it was very apparent I was about to go in the wrong side which has a tendency to get those waiting in line pretty irate (including yours truly if you have not already noticed my attention to line etiquette).  So, I was left with a self-conscious diversion to the left side door and took my proper place in line. 

Slowly this began nagging at me.  What would compel an architect to design against the standard?

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Would You Like Any Y’s With That?

Work is back in session, so I have to tackle some quicker ones.  I had a strange experience the last time I was at Panera Bread that still leaves me wondering.  I stepped up to the counter and gave the cheerful cashier my standard turkey sandwich and soup takeout order.  The lady then asked me for a name to call out when the order was ready.  Rather than go my standard route and give a name of a rock singer I went with my real name “Brian”.  The cashier then asked me if that was with a ‘Y’ or an ‘I’.  I tried desperately to process exactly what this actually mattered in the context of calling my name over the intercom.   Unfortunately, I couldn’t rationalize it and was just about to ask her a probing question regarding the impact it would have on my food delivery when she added “You must not be asked that very often” …with a chuckle.  She was note entirely correct since I am often asked this when dealing with text documents, but within this type of spoken scenario she was totally correct,  I had never been asked that question… ever.  In fact,  the more common mistake is using an ‘AI’ instead of an ‘IA’ – which, by the way, generally brings a smile to my face and if in an email, goes in my special ‘Brain’ folder for future reference.   I honestly replied “no” and decided to satisfy the original question with the appropriate “I” – as a note, I never get this problem when I use my standard approach and go with Jagger or Ringo.   I was still thinking this over in my head and trying to decide what I was going to do when they called me name (“did you call Bryan or Brian?….) when I noticed I had pulled out a single dollar instead of a five dollar bill from my wallet.  I stopped my payment motion, alerted her that I needed to get the right amount and took out my wallet to exchange the bills.  Then the kicker came when she said “That’s okay, I do stupid things all the time too”.   I personally preferred to classify it as a basic mistake brought on by the distraction of a previous incoherent statement, but if stupid does then stupid is fits her assessment then I will simply leave her with the positive feeling that she isn’t alone in the world.   I picked up the order for Brien and went on my way.

A Line Violation

Happy New Year’s Everyone!

 I thought I would cover a topic that is generally more prevalent during the holiday season but something we all run into at least once or twice a week.  That topic is waiting line etiquette.  I have always argued that the only fair approach to merchant lines is a single line with fan out.  Specifically this means that there is a single line that all customers begin in.  At the end of this line you disperse out to an open register.  This insures a true FIFO (first in first out) that insure a fair treatment of all customers and no one is victimized by a particularly slow checkout employee, unacceptable price checks because the merchant failed the customer by not effectively labeling or programming the price of an item or god forbid the two parties decide it is chat time.  Unfortunately, only a few merchants appreciate their customers enough to impose this order at the registers (note, failure to plan enough space to do this in the register area is not an acceptable excuse).  I will give Best Buy, Taco Bell and Burger King props for consistently using this checkout model.   Often times I will attempt to initiate this myself by standing back a couple feet from the registers in hopes that at least two other people understand that this is really the fastest approach in the long run (there is a chance you might pick the fastest checkout, but I’ll bet you will fail more than you will succeed).  Note, I say two people because I have found through trial and error that this is the key number – as long as those two other people hold the line, others feel obligated to conform – and thus everyone wins. 

 My recent observation not only did not have the optimal line approach, there was clearly what I call a line violation – translated – someone decided they were more important than the other individuals waiting in line before them.

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Short Term Memory

Well, the wait is finally over… actually since I am not sure who (if anyone) has been actually waiting on my posts, I will simply characterize it as the procrastination has ended.  It is the symbolic 11th hour for a resolution I made to myself much earlier in 2007.  That resolution was to find a way to capture all the observations that intrigue me from day to day.  I tried traditional journaling, but that did not lend itself to quick updates while out and about unless I carried the journal with me and the number of paper scraps with random thoughts on it was becoming unmanageable.  Then my brother alerted me to WordPress which was the most functional electronic journaling tool I have come across yet.  So with his help we are here today and probably the most satisfying part is the successful completion of another New Year’s resolution….. and just in time as I start determining next year’s goals tomorrow!

 I decided to start with the observation I consider the Tipping Point for this entire blog (actually I found Malcolm’s book on Blink even more fascinating, but T.P. had some very interesting topics including a compelling discussion on children shows).  One day while standing outside the Associated Bank building in downtown Peoria, I noticed an individual approaching the entrance to the first floor bank lobby.  For some reason, what caught my attention was the odd angle he was taking towards the door.  That angle eventually took him directly to the left side of a glass double door.  Typically in the US, ongoing traffic stays in the right lane and oncoming traffic traditionally flows on the left side.  This is required in our vehicle traffic and mimicked in pedestrian flow – watch stairs in a high traffic area and you will see the natural tendency although it is rarely ever posted anywhere.   Now I am very aware from my travels and interaction with locals that other countries have a reversed pattern.  On my observation to-do list I have a task to verify how standard pedestrian traffic flows in these countries.  My guess is this will be similar to the traffic flow on their roads.  The subject of this particular observation did not appear to be from another country so that did not explain the vector he had taken. 

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