Monday, March 26, 2012

LDM part 2: awkward automobiles

Equal to airplanes and elevators in LDM frequency are automobiles. One circumstance in particular is a constant source of Larry David-esque neurosis - it's the "see ya there" trip.

You're finishing a nice meal at a restaurant with friends. After great dinner conversation, you and your satisfied companions decide to continue the night's festivities at your home. After invariably arguing over who gets to pay the tab, and even more invariably waiting for one of the men (defecating) or women ("freshening up," but really defecating) to use the restroom, you all walk out to the parking lot. You get in your car, they get in theirs. "See ya there!"

Five minutes later, you pull up to a red light, aware that arriving at the same red light in the adjoining lane is the other driver. You now face an interesting choice. Your first instinct is to turn, look at the other driver, and gesture. Whether it's a smile, a wave, a raising of the eyebrows, or a silly squinted glare, this instinct is a mystery. It's as if you forgot you just spent the last two hours with the person you're suddenly so happy to see. Maybe driving at the same time creates a sort of camaraderie, like you felt with your childhood best friend after go-karting together on a school field trip. "Look, we're both driving! Isn't this great?!" Whatever the explanation, turning to look comes with risks. The other driver may make a conscious decision not to look, and you are left snubbed, gesturing like an idiot at no one. Or, the face looking back at you will trigger your memory, and logic, and a level of awkwardness not ever previously experienced with that person follows. Alternative to turning and looking, you can snub, pretending you don't know you've pulled up right next to the other driver. This is dangerous too, as you may cause the other driver embarrassment over a funny face or a wave unresponded to. It's really a question of who you feel more comfortable embarrassing - you or the other driver. Clearly, I choose not to look.

The awkwardness then progresses as the light turns green. Whether you're competitive by nature or not, there is always the odd dilemma of whether to pull ahead of the other person or let them. Driving side by side is a third option, though that often leads to further awkward glances, waves, and snubs, which turns hazardous while in motion. Nothing ruins a friendship like diverting one into oncoming traffic with a poorly placed gesture. What proceeds ends up being a speed-up, lag-behind cycle that, from the air, must look like the equalizer bars during a pop song.

My personal solution to all this is becoming to never, under any circumstances, pull up alongside the other driver, whether at a light or in motion. I will wait in the turn lane that is 50 cars long to avoid being first in the other lane and side by side the familiar driver. I will remain in the same lane as them at all times for the entire journey, or I will accelerate ahead at the beginning and break speed laws to maintain distance. Whatever I have to do I will do in order to ensure being surrounded by unfamiliar drivers at all times.

Until there is a universal understanding that turning and looking is frowned upon instead of smiled upon, I will be forced to continue with these maneuvers.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

LDM part 1: elevator etiquette

Sometimes, I have what I like to call "Larry David moments" (LDM's). If you don't know who Larry David is, familiarize yourself:

He's also the co-creator of a little show by the name of "Seinfeld." If you've seen it, you're comfortable with the notion of LDM.

I have a feeling most of us have our own LDM's in our daily lives, but society mandates that we keep them to ourselves. Well, I say it's time to put an end to that. In said spirit, here is act 1 of what will be a multi-part series detailing the many majestic LDM's I experience on an everyday basis.

Elevator Etiquette
The elevator is a place I happen upon on a daily basis. I work on the fifth floor, which is precisely the threshold where one can rightfully say, "screw the stairs, I'm taking the elevator." In one commonly occurring instance, I find myself stuck between adhering to societal standards and responding to my inner Larry David.

This instance takes form when I hear the dreaded, "hold the door!" or when those frantic footsteps can be heard coming around the corner. Someone is trying to squeak in before the doors close - it's a squeaker. In many cases, this is not necessarily bad because there is always the chance the squeaker will be getting off at a higher destination than yourself, thus having no impact on your travels. However, the fifth floor being the top floor in my building, I immediately calculate a 3/4 chance that I will have to tolerate a premature stop on the way to my destination. Now this is certainly a minute delay, and perhaps I seem quite silly (meaner terms are welcome) for concerning myself with such a minuscule inconvenience. However, consider the following scenario: you get in a cab (optional public transport, just like an elevator, right?). Just as you're telling the driver where to take you, someone else hops in, completely ignores you, and says to the cabbie, "drop me off on the way." Just like in an elevator, it's only a short stop, and it's on the way. But how are you feeling? It doesn't seem fair, does it? You were in the cab first, your destination should be first priority. Why should the same rules not apply in an elevator? In the heat of a scenario where someone is trying to to slip in at the last second, I am always so very tempted to feign an attempt at pushing the doors open button, while really jamming the doors close button with ferocity. Not only is there a 3/4 chance my upward journey will be delayed, but if and when that 3/4 chance comes to fruition, that means a person is opting for the elevator over the stairs when only travelling 3 stories or less. This is rude AND lazy. But, the nicer, "societal" part of my brain usually wins, and I allow the squeaker to squeak. When they try and make small-talk and my responses are curt, they should know why.

Besides all that, one can achieve a certain solitude while alone in an elevator. I'm hard-pressed to imagine another place where, even if someone wanted to, they could not get to me. For a brief moment I am completely alone, unattainable, and I am also being productive because I am moving somewhere I need to go. What a great combo that is. And how easily it can be ruined by a squeaker. Just have to squeak in, don't they?   

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Urinal Fly

This product is targeting the epitome of male instinct. 
It's almost unfair.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I put the x in exercise

A study that came out in 2006 shows that aerobic exercise increases brain volume in aging humans. A separate study from 2009 reports that standard aerobic exercise is just as effective as anti-depressant medication in treating patients with clinical major depression.

From these studies, I have concluded that exercise is good for you.

Believe it or not, I actually came up with this hypothesis years ago. In strides to be healthy, I decided I should start going to the gym.

A couple gym-less months later, I decided I should start going to the gym again. A few months later, I decided to start going again. This process repeated itself cyclically during a time in which I accumulated about 10 gym trips, until now when I am currently, and again, not visiting the gym.

I think there are several reasons why I can't seem to find any consistency in my gym habits:

#1  It's boring.

Maybe it's my generation's need to always be entertained, or maybe lifting a heavy metal bar up and down just isn't my idea of fun. Whatever it is, I get so incredibly bored at the gym I just want to leave. Running on a treadmill, for instance, turns into a multi-dimensional feedback loop based on the inverse of the scientific principle, "time flies when you're having fun." As boredom increases, time goes by with decreasing rate, feeding back into and further fueling the increasing boredom. This leads to an increasing incidence of looking at how many miles you've run in hopes of the end being near, which further adds to time going by slow, as dictated by the "watching paint dry" principle. Suddenly, what is actually a 15 minute run turns into what seems like an eternity.

#2  It hurts. 

The feeling that briefly yet authoritatively pulses through my body after my fourth of four sets of leg presses is a pain unlike most others. Some people claim to like it, and to that I say you're weird, because we're not supposed to like pain. Why do you think pain exists? It's our brain telling us to cut it out. If you choose to ignore that, you're ignoring evolutionary instinct and that to me just seems foolish. And it doesn't end there - some say a good workout is most often followed by a day of being sore. A workout buff  (pun intended) would say it's a great feeling, a feeling indicating a successful workout. To that I again say, you're weird, based on the same principle as above.

#3   It's easy to get distracted amidst the hilarious things that are happening around you.

It's really hard to focus on your form when the person next to you sounds like they are giving birth. When I hear a grunt, moan, snort, unnecessarily long and drawn-out exhale, etc. from someone nearby I lose all focus. If it's a really ridiculous noise I even start to laugh, which I immediately turn into the half-smile teeth clench face you make when you're lifting heavy things. I also am particularly amused by the personalities you find at gyms, most comical, obviously, being the beefcakes, or as I affectionately call them, the upside down triangles. If their tiny lower halves and gigantic upper halves aren't funny enough, they saunter around the place like hormonal gorillas, splaying their varicose upper arms outwards in a behavior I can only attribute to territorial scent marking. If you don't believe in evolution, you will have an epiphany at your local gym where the beefcakes act like some sort of ape-human intermediate.

Then there are the fashionable ones, most often females (sorry ladies, but the beefcakes are more interested in showing you their entire rib cage by tearing the arm holes of a sleeveless shirt down to the hem), who insist on showing up in about $200 worth of workout clothes, a full array of makeup, and wearing more perfume than they would at a pheromone festival. You'll always know these types at the gym, because the only thing that is more obvious than the contour of their buttocks through their fancy gym tights (that's the formal term) is the two men running on the two treadmills directly alongside hers in a room of empty ones. I guess I don't blame them, she smells good.

#4  It's often hard to tell whose sweat you're wearing when you're done.

I suppose this one is more personal, as I am a bit of a germaphobe at times. But sometimes I seem to sweat A LOT after not working out that hard..... Really, who doesn't care if they lay on a bench or mat drenched in someone else's sweat? No one. Well maybe except the beefcakes - scent acquiring has been observed in Chimpanzees who roll around in a rival male's markings. We all know no one really wipes down the equipment when they're done. The gym offers it as a formality, but they know it won't happen. What's hygiene when you're compromising your immune system by stressing every muscle in your body to the point of dystrophy for 2 hours, anyway?

My sermon in this post will be to get exercise by doing fun things, like playing sports. That's what I do, and I still have a six-pack. Fun-filled exercise makes me feel OK about drinking six beers after I'm done. If you happen to be one of those who likes working out at the gym, more power to you. Just beware of #4,  continue ignoring #2, don't get caught in the trap of #1, and you're probably the subject of #3.