King of the Forest

I’ll never forget my first camping trip. I was six years old at the time. I ventured into the forest a boy, and emerged a man. I was the self-proclaimed King of the Forest, and I didn’t need a homemade crown of antlers and eagle talons to prove it. I just wore one anyway.

And now that I have a son, I figured it’s never too early to expose him to the untamed wilderness. Since he’s only four months old, I contemplated some sort of warm-up prior to a real camping trip. Originally, I thought about pitching a tent in the back yard, just to see how he survives at night amongst all the dingoes and gypsies that live in our neighborhood.

I decided against it. This isn’t meant to be a vacation. It’s a camping trip. It’s about survival. And ultimately, I decided the only way to transform him into a man is to drop him off in the wilderness alone and let him fend for himself. Well, he won’t be entirely alone. I’ll let him borrow my Rambo knife, you know, the type that stores matches and fishhooks and a compass in the handle.

So he’ll have a survival knife. And of course, we’ll dress him in camo as well. And the rest will be up to him.

Sure, it will be dangerous. Especially since he can’t crawl yet. I think that will really help him build character though. If a cougar attacks, he won’t be able to just run away from his problems. He’s going to have to deal with it head-on. I can feel it already; he’s going to learn some important life lessons on this trip.

It will be cold too. I generally don’t let him play with matches, so he doesn’t have much experience with fire. Consequently, there is a good chance that he might start a forest fire. That’s ok though. I almost look at it as a rite of passage.

Of course, his mother doesn’t know about any of these plans yet. But that’s the idea. I’m already concerned that she’s babying this baby too much as it is. It’s time for him to become a man.

And we’ll begin that process tonight by leaving him alone in the wilderness. And when I see him again in a few days, hopefully he will emerge as the new King of the Forest, unshaven, well-fed and draped in animal pelts, just as I was, 22 years ago.

Here’s a shot of Charlie and I in our respective full-camo attire. On a related note, I’m in the market for a matching baby-sized pair of camouflaged fingerless gloves. If you run across such an item, let me know.


The Office Intranet

You could say that I’m a decent employee. I follow the gist of the dress code. I generally show up within 15 minutes of when I am supposed to be at work. You know, reasonable lateness. I very rarely take naps at my desk. And while I am mildly disgruntled, I’m not (yet) acting out my frustrations by urinating in the office coffee pot or something.

Sure, there is room for improvement. And perhaps this is why our Intranet site at the office began posting motivational quotes. Whenever I went online to check my benefits or print out a new phone list, an inspiring quote awaited me. At first, these quotes were wildly absurd homilies about the joys of hard work. Lately though, it appears the company has chosen quotes that are a little more realistic for our corporate culture.

And yes, these are actual quotes that have appeared on our Intranet site over the last few days…

1. “Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake.” ~ Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch-Tartakower

First off, I do love a good Grigorievitch-Tartakower quote. He’s like a chess-playing Confucius. But seriously, I started to think about how his words would actually help me at work.

In essence, the message appears to be, “always look to capitalize on the mistakes of others.” In general, this is an outstanding credo to live by. And at my company, mistakes, oversights, and errors are in constant abundance. Evidently, it is corporate policy to start using these miscues to enrich myself. Thankfully, I have this Intranet quote as justification for whatever malfeasance I end up committing. (Crossing fingers that this will stand up in court.)

2. “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

Ok, I’m starting to get paranoid. Who exactly are my enemies around here? Here’s my list of potential suspects:

Our competitors: The obvious choice, but ultimately, I think they’re too busy being profitable and successful.

Our customers: Generally speaking, they are more victims than enemies.

My Boss: I wouldn’t categorize him as an enemy, necessarily. Sure, our relationship can be adversarial, in a cartoonish sort of way. Him, the Wile E. Coyote trying increasingly elaborate ways to get me to do work, and I, the cunning roadrunner narrowly eluding productivity every time. Sticking with this metaphor, I simply avoid whatever project he tries to slap on my desk like it was an anvil being dropped overhead. Meep! Meep! (Cloud of dust)

My Coworkers: Change that… My Co-employees. The word “Coworkers” is misleading, as it implies some actual work is being done around here. As far as enemies go, there is actually some validity to this one. I’ll single out just a few: The Guy that takes the last cup of coffee and doesn’t make a new pot. The guy that has an annoying cell phone ring that I can hear across the building. And finally, the guy that basically loiters outside the building by taking four hours worth of smoking breaks per day.

3. “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are more stupid than that.” ~ George Carlin

Why is this on our Intranet site? Shouldn’t this be part of our mission statement instead?

Again, how does this help me at work? Am I supposed to factor in this ratio in dealing with my coworkers? Seriously, it’s not like I need the Office Intranet to offer confirmation that incompetent morons surround me.

4. “Every trial endured and weathered in the right spirit makes a soul nobler and stronger than it was before. ” ~ James Buckham

So my job is a trial, meant to be endured? And by slogging through my job, my only reward will be spiritual growth? And I’ve got what, 30 years of this until retirement? Honestly, with quotes like this, the Office Intranet is only validating my disgruntlement.

Drivers Ed Memories

Below, I’m pleased to present the final installment of the series of posts centering on my ten-year high school reunion

Drivers Ed was essentially about memorizing procedures, which were a series of meticulous steps addressing every possible aspect of driving. Even ludicrous situations like driving down the freeway and having the hood fly up like in the movie “Tommie Boy” had detailed instructions we memorized to avoid disaster. And naturally, none of these steps was to panic and steer blindly into a crowd of innocent civilians. Now aside from a Chris Farley movie, when would this ever happen? Of course, Drivers Ed instructors would have you believe this occurs nearly every day on their commute to work.

And when we did our driving tests, not only did all of these various procedures have to be performed, but also performed in order. Check parking brake. Fasten Seat belt. Double-check parking brake. Adjust seat. Check mirrors. Release the parking brake. Check cleanliness of ashtray… Seriously, space shuttles can launch faster than this.

But all of these procedures had to be memorized and done perfectly in order before we could depart. They basically forced us to develop obsessive-compulsive personality disorders just to drive a car. Honestly, you pretty much had to be Rain Man to get your license.

Of course, the best part was when you missed a step. You always knew it too, because the instructor would just shake his head in utter disgust. Futilely, I would set and release the parking break a few times and perform pronounced checks of my blind spot, hoping I’d get lucky and randomly execute whatever step I missed.

The funny thing was, every missed procedure somehow resulted in the horrific death of an imaginary pedestrian. Keep in mind; we weren’t even on the road yet. Usually, we were the only car in an empty parking lot. But the instructor would turn to you, and point out how you failed to check the litterbag in the vehicle, and how this oversight just killed an innocent civilian.

And as far as imaginary pedestrians go, it was never an ordinary jogger or something. It was always a mother of nine, in a wheelchair on her way to getting a bone marrow transplant. And you killed her. How do you live with yourself?

When we weren’t on the road we were stuck with the simulators. Of course, the only thing being simulated was our attention span for this BS. Now, the simulators were just that, a fake car interior, with a projector showing imaginary road conditions in front of us. Since it was pretend driving, we usually practiced something totally ridiculous like driving across an oil slick during a monsoon.

As you might expect, the simulators replicated the interior of a 72 Oldsmobile. That was the most ironic thing… It’s a simulator. Why couldn’t they simulate us driving a nice car? It’s all for pretend anyway. Nope, they wanted us to get lots of practice simulating the experience of driving a total piece of crap. Honestly, I think they even had simulated pedestrians laughing at us as we drove by.

In the end it was worth it. Even though I endured lots of public humiliation and developed an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, at least I had the freedom to drive myself to get psychiatric therapy once I had my license. All thanks to Drivers Ed.

Reunion Speech:

Finally, if you would like to download the full-length video clip of the reunion speech (rated PG-13) I delivered to my classmates, you can access it here. Simply right click on the “Download Now” button and save the file to your computer.

I think it’s enjoyable regardless of whether you went to my high school or if you are drunk while viewing it. My audience was both of these things, so that certainly aided my performance.

Note, it’s a big file (50 MB) so be sure you’re Comcasting (new corporate verb!) some high-speed Internet. Also, this link expires in seven days, so if you find that this link is broken, shoot me an email and I’ll repost it.

Finally, thanks for humoring me on my Al Bundy-like fixation on high school memories of late. As of last night, I stopped sleeping in my letterman’s jacket, so this site should be returning to normal shortly.

My Ten Year Reunion

I am returning to my hometown tonight, as my ten-year high school reunion kicks off this weekend. In anticipation of this moment, I’ve spent the last few months sharing some memories from Biology and Spanish class. This installment is a potpourri of actual things I wrote in high school… Enjoy:

100 Things to Accomplish Before I Die:

I compiled this list for psychology class in my junior year. Here are some of my favorites from the list, along with my commentary in parentheses:

1. Dunk in a game.
2. Save Mankind. (In a video game setting, I’ve done this hundreds of times.)
3. Have business cards.
4. Have a body guard. (Preferably not Kevin Costner.)
5. Visit Tombstone, Arizona.
6. Give a memorable speech.
7. Ride on a dolphin.
8. Outrun the police. (Believe it or not, I can actually cross this one off the list.)
9. Start my own company called “Manchild Enterprises.”
10. Be a Navy SEAL. (This was written at the height of the popularity of the Under Seige movies.)
11. Have a wild bachelor’s party. (You be the judge.)
12. Outbid somebody at an auction. (Obviously, this predated Ebay.)

Where I will be in Ten Years:

The following is an excerpt from a paper I wrote as a junior about my plans after high school. Looking back, I think it is safe to say that I lacked a fundamental grasp of reality.

“In ten years I plan to drive an expensive sports car complete with power windows, automatic headlights and a sunroof. I will live in a four-story gothic mansion with lots of marble pillars and stone statues of Greek mythology characters. To support my extravagant lifestyle, I will hold a job as a Hollywood producer and invest in the stock market.

Unable to find a perfect wife, I live alone and entertain females without any commitment. Generally, I live a happy life, because I am a legend in Las Vegas and love to play the games of high stakes. When I am not winning awards for the movies I make, then I am busy traveling the world and fortune hunting.

By the time ten years has elapsed from my graduation, I am considered one of Hollywood’s biggest playboys. From what I can tell, being a 28-year old millionaire isn’t always easy, but there is never a dull moment.”

As you might have guessed, I have fallen fantastically short of these expectations. Since my priorities have changed somewhat over the years, here is my updated plan for the next ten years:

Having found the perfect wife, I decided my greatest gift to mankind would be to procreate and mold my many sons in my own image. To pursue this endeavor even further, I will become a pioneer in the field of cloning, so that my offspring will have 100% of my DNA (Currently consisting of 50% Caucasian, 25% Cherokee Indian, and 25% Ninja genes).

McFly and Fungi:

Back in high school, before we became The Centaur and The Captive Lion, we were known as McFly and The Fungi. Here’s the final column we wrote together as seniors in high school… As you can see, very little maturation, physical or otherwise, has occurred in the last 10 years:

McFly2 resize.jpg

Be on the lookout, one final installment of high school memories is coming next week…