Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Choose Your Culture

A while back, I bought a mini-fridge. I put it next to my desk at work. To begin with, it was a solution to a cold water problem. Our office, though a branch of the largest private company in America, decided they couldn't afford an ice machine. And the refrigerator's ice maker was broken and apparently not important enough to fix. Which left the employees with the responsibility of filling ice trays and dumping the ice into a bucket. And then digging into the ice bucket with their grubby hands to retrieve ice for their drinks. This is where my cold water problem started. So I bought the mini-fridge in order to store my own cold water.

A side benefit of having a mini-fridge next to your desk is that you can stock it with snacks and lunch items. In my case, I've taken to keeping a couple of weeks worth of Lunchables and yogurt close at hand. The side benefit to this is that it stopped my daily habit of buying a snack out of the snack machine. This was a two-fold benefit in that a) I saved myself some money by buying yogurt instead of overpriced vending machine food and b) the health factor of my snacks improved considerably. I went from spending a dollar a day purchasing items such as the "Big Texas Cinnamon Roll" and "Dunkin Sticks" and "A Honey Bun Only A Bear Could Finish" to spending sixty cents a day on a snack that boasts the eyebrow-raising yet generally accepted ingredient "Active Yogurt Cultures".

Yesterday, I burned through the last of my yogurt cultures but forgot to go to the store to refresh. So, this morning I was hungry but was forced to patronize the the vending machine. "One dip into the pool of sugar and fat shouldn't be too big a deal," I told myself. None of my usual favorites were in stock, though, so I went with some Dolly Madison chocolate cupcakes.

I got back to my desk and started perusing the Kansas City Star online. While reading about local events, I opened my plastic-wrapped delights and started munching on one of the cupcakes. It tasted a little odd, but I figured it was just because I hadn't had one in quite some time. I ate the rest of it with little thought other than agreeing with Jason Whitlock about the need for Carl Peterson to be fired.

I popped the second one into my hand while reading about Sherron Collins making the pre-season All-Big 12 team. I took a big bite and realized that this one tasted far worse than the first. It was then that I finally looked at the cupcake and saw some cultures I was not expecting: It was covered in mold.

I angrily chucked the remaining cupcake in the trash and proceeded to suck down as much water as I could. I then hoped and prayed that I wouldn't throw up because there are few things in life worse than throwing up.

When the guy sitting next to me offered me a FireBall jawbreaker, I jumped at the chance to eliminate the musty taste in my mouth. And while that worked pretty well, every time I burped the rest of the morning, my stomach reminded me of the cultures at work in my gut.

It's now 3:20 in the afternoon. I haven't puked yet. But I think I may take off early and go buy some yogurt.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happiness Is...

* Putting on a sweater and grabbing a hot cup of cocoa on a chilly Autumn morning in a chilly office.

* Leaving work early on a rainy, dreary day--and spending part of the afternoon in a cozy coffee shop with a friend.

* Getting home from work early and watching Jeopardy!--and knowing a bunch of the answers.

* Having a boss that is cool with letting me leave early on occasion.

* My son telling me about how his football coach went off when some players informed him they would miss the next game because of a school band event--and then realizing that he will get a lot more playing time because of their absence.

* Anticipating a new, free phone, certain to arrive this afternoon.

* Finding one of my favorite cool-weather shirts at the bottom of my closet.

* Leaving the window cracked to allow the cool air in and wearing my favorite adidas jogging pants while watching playoff baseball.

* Finishing up a good book--and anticipating the next one.

* Stretching out sore hamstrings.

* Congratulating (and being congratulated by) my co-worker daily on KU winning the national basketball championship.

* Being so efficient at my job that I can take the time to come up with these little tidbits and write them up during office hours.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Human Magnet

I am a human magnet.

I attract and repel.

I feel like a puzzle piece whose shape clearly fits, but whose edges are magnetized and thus repelled by its counterpart. Now, I'm praying that God sees fit to reverse the poles.

Until then, I am the two-dimensional bald guy peeking out behind a pile of metal shavings and a thin layer of plastic. Someone has picked up the magnetic pen and arranged the shavings into an attractive mosaic of hair. And though pleased with the outcome, they decided to shake it up and leave it for someone else.

I am a dime store Etch-A-Sketch.

I am a human magnet.