Category: "1995-1998 Middle"

Pages: 1 3

Anecdotes #4 - May 7, 2016

She Didn’t Believe Me

When I was in the 7th Grade I read Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton and did a book report on it. My teacher questioned me about the book. She didn’t explain why she was questioning me but based on her questions I knew that she didn’t believe that I had read the book, and thought that I’d only seen the movie. On of the questions she asked it what happened to Hammond. You see in the book he is killed by pack of Procompsognathus, and in the movie he lives. Of course I’d read it so I was able to answer that question correctly.

My First Website

In the mid 90s the internet was new and search engines were just beginning to evolve. My friend Wes showed me this website he made, which was basically Wes’ Cool Home Page with some boring information about Wes on it. I realized that the internet needed to contain important information so I decided to make a website about the planet Jupiter because one of my friends was doing a paper on Jupiter. So I made a site on Geocities called the Official Jupiter Home Page. I ran into a problem making the site, though, I didn’t know anything about the planet, so I plagiarized the whole thing out of a Microsoft Encarta ’95 article by Reta F. Beebe. The website was pretty much the only one on Jupiter at the time so I got hundreds of thousands of views (and if you search for http://www.geocities.com/athens/thebes/7870/ you can still find citations to it today!). I even monetized on it by putting a goto.com search box on it. I ended up making around $15.00. Eventually I got an email from some kid saying that they knew I had just copy and pasted Encarta’s article. I immediately took down the website, because I knew sooner or later someone at Microsoft might realize the same and ask me to take it down and preferred not to get that email.

The Most Boring Book

I signed up for AP English for 12th Grade, and for the summer between 11th and 12th Grade we were supposed to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, so I did. It was the most boring book I ever read in my life and I fell asleep multiple times while reading it. A few weeks after school started I found myself failing the class. I transferred to the regular English class (not even honors). It was so much easier I called it Retard English (I feel bad about calling it that, but it was what it was), and because of that my reading of Jane Eyre had all been pointless.

Bad Employee

I was fired from my job as a grocery store bagger. I always like to tell people I got fired for sleeping on the salt bags when I was supposed to be doing carts. But really I never did that. The real reason I got fired was because I was supposed to say Hi how are you doing? to every single customer, but I didn’t like asking them that because the cashier had just asked them that and I didn’t want to annoy the customer, so I’d just say Would you like paper or plastic. They tried to correct me multiple times and I refused to do it. I also would not ask a man if he needed help out with the groceries I’d only ask women since I felt a man should be able to handle it himself. They tried to correct me on that but I refused to do it as well. That’s really why I got fired, I simply failed to do my job as instructed, and instead did it the way I thought was best. I was wrong. I was getting paid to do what they wanted, and I failed to do that. There was rumor’s of this one girl that got fired for making out with her boyfriend in the stock room. I wonder if that was true, or if it was the same deal as me sleeping on the salt bags.

Buying Diablo II

I was 16 when the game Diablo II came out, and the guy at the department store wouldn’t sell it to me because it was M rated (for gamers 17 and up). I went home and got my brother so he could buy it for me since he was a year older. Well when I went back the electronics department was not staffed so I took the game to a regular checkout stand and the girl there sold it to me with no questions asked since she didn’t know about video game ratings.

Anecdotes #2 - April 14, 2016

A collection of anecdotes before I retire:

Tied to a Tree

One time at scout camp I wanted to sleep in. So I pretended to be asleep when everyone else was up. Some of the other boys tied me to a tree. I was awake the whole time and let them do it because I thought it was hilarious. My friend Wes didn’t realize I was aware of what was going on and felt bad for me and cut me down.

Endurance

I had a job in high school bagging groceries. Part of the job was to bring in the carts from outside. One time I was bringing in 10 or so carts and a fellow employee who happened to be an attractive young woman asked me how I was able to get so many at once. Being that I was an awkward kid that was afraid of girls, the only thing that came to my mind was character attributes from role-playing games, so I said, Umm, uh, endurance.

Help Me

When I was a young teenager I liked to make myself pass out. This was especially easy at church since I was wearing a tie and I could tighten it around my neck causing me to black out. One time I did this in church and when I came out of the blackout I was so unaware of what was going on that I said, Help me daddy I’m scared! really loud at church.

Give ’Em What They Want

I was once nominated for the a student award at my middle school. I can’t quite remember what the award was called but only one student got it per month, so supposedly getting nominated was an honor in it’s own right. Anyway, for all the kids that got nominated we had to answer one question and that would determine who would win the award. My friend Aaron was nominated that same month. They told us the question: Who is someone that you felt was an important influence on your life? and gave us a few minutes to think about an answer. We told the answer to the teachers in private, so no other students would know what we said. When it came time for me to give my answer I said, George Lucas. They asked me why, and I said, Because he invented Star Wars. And Star Wars was pretty cool. In retrospect they definitely weren’t impressed with my answer. After Aaron had had his turn we asked each other what we’d said. Aaron told me that he said his dad. And I thought that maybe I should have said my mom, because my mom was ten times the person that Aaron’s dad was. Neither one of us got the award. But I did learn a valuable lesson, a lot of times it’s better to just give someone the answer they want and not what is really in your heart.

I Adjust

My brother, sister, and I quite enjoyed playing chess. And we liked to follow some of the official rules. One of the official rules is that if you touch a piece you must move that piece unless you say I adjust before moving that piece, after which you can center that piece in it’s square. One thing we would like to do is say I adjust you queen! and then flick our opponent’s queen from the board.


Categories: 1995-1998 Middle

And Lo, It Flew! - November 15, 2015

Example of a soda bottle rocket.
I was once voted Most Likely to Become a Famous Rocket Scientist. I never became one. I wasn’t that interested in rockets. I was trained as a rocket scientist, though. It all began in elementary school when I was introduced to the soda bottle rocket. It’s a simple rocket built with a 2 liter soda bottle. The fuel is a combination of air and water. They work by using a special launch platform that allows you to pump air into the bottle. Upon launch the air and water is released in an explosion that propels the rocket into the air. In my elementary school most of our rockets had a major technical flaw where the fins would fall off upon launch.

In elementary school it was all fun and games, but in my middle school science class things got real, we had a competition. We were put into teams of two, our goal was to create a rocket that would not only fly the highest or longest, but that would also carry an astronaut. The astronaut was an egg, and it had to survive the flight to win the competition.

My partner was this guy Travis, and Travis wanted to be all technical and so he drew up so blueprints. Since he did most of the design work. I decided to chip in by building the thing. When I went home to build it I realized something that most middle school students wouldn’t realize: That luck, and not design or engineering, would determine the winner. Therefore my goal was not to build a winning rocket, rather it was to make the most noticeable rocket. I threw out Travis’ blueprints and set to work. I had this really cool telescoping sword that I’d gotten on a family vacation. It was a generic blue and white one that resembled a jousting lance more than a sword. The perfect fit for a rocket nose cone. I removed the hilt and put it on top of the soda bottle. This made my rocket approximately four feet tall. With a four foot tall rocket, I knew I’d need a wingspan to match, so I found a piece of cardboard and cut it into two triangles and put those on the sides of the soda bottle. I then had a three foot wingspan on my rocket. I also put some wings on the tip of the sword for stability.

Compare the standard student made rocket (left) with my rocket (right).
For some reason or other there were two rounds for the competition. I think all you had to do to pass the first round was have the egg survive. In any case I showed up on the first day of the competition with my rocket, and that’s when I realized I’d accomplished my goal: My rocket stood out more than any other rocket. There were a bunch of 1’ rockets and one 4’ rocket, mine.

I never counted on my rocket flying, it never even occurred to me that it would. Mine weighed significantly more than all the other rockets, but because it stood out so much everyone was watching intently as the launch countdown commenced. The first launch was a disappointment to say the least. The telescoping nose cone collapsed upon takeoff and it went maybe three feet into the air and spun to the ground. The egg survived though, so Travis and I were on to round two.

I had a whole two days to modify the rocket for round two. I didn’t do much with it. I just put some duct tape around the sections of the telescoping sword so that it wouldn’t collapse again, and figured that was good enough for round two.

A couple days later I loaded my rocket onto the launching platform for the second time and crossed my fingers as I waited in anticipation for the launch. Like every other rocket, there was an explosion of water and air and I looked up and lo! It was flying. It went straight up into the air, then tilted onto its side, and glided. It glided like a hawk. It glided above my head and I had to turn all the way around to continue to watch its flight. It glided through the air onto the top of the school. It was honestly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in my life. This thing that I built flew! Also keep in mind, we were launching these rockets from the parking lot next to the school, at least forty to fifty feet away from the school. So my rocket flew forty to fifty feet at least (possibly a lot further since it went out of sight). It was honestly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. Majestic, graceful, perfect, awe.

My rocket’s trajectory.


I didn’t win the competition. The school was only one story tall and there were plenty of rockets that went higher than that. Mine did fly for a long time, but they disqualified any that landed on the top of the school since it was impossible to tell if the egg had survived. I didn’t care. The beauty of that flight was more satisfying than any prize.


Categories: 1995-1998 Middle

You Might Have Hard Water - June 18, 2014

If you lived through the 90s you might remember the brand of soap Zest. Like any soap, they claimed to be the best, or at least that they had some advantage over other brands. The biggest claim they made was that Zest didn’t leave behind soap scum. You might recall the slogan, You’re not fully clean unless you’re Zestfully clean!



In one of their ad campaigns they claimed that if you weren’t feeling clean after a shower it might be because soap scum was still on your body, and that happens when you have hard water. So their commercials were like, If your soap won’t lather well and your skin feels dry after you’ve showered, you might have hard water. And so on. In fact, they offered a free test for hard water. You just had to call 1-800-HARD-WATER and they’d mail you the test. They showed you how to use it in the commercial. Basically it was a cardboard strip and you put it in the water, and if it turned brown, you had hard water.

My family never called the number, but Zest ended up sending the tests out all over the place in junk mail bundles. I’m not going to lie, my family was pretty excited about taking the test. We all gathered together in the bathroom for the occasion. The problem with our particular test was that it was already brown. We hadn’t even taken the test and we had hard water! Well, my mom figured maybe it would turn back to the original color, white, if we didn’t have hard water. I wasn’t so sure about that myself, but we put the test in the water anyway.

Sure enough, the strip didn’t change back to white. It stayed brown. My mom was convinced we had hard water, and she was all upset that our water softener wasn’t working. She was like, Why are we wasting all this energy and salt on a water softener that doesn’t work? And I was like, No, mom I think it works fine, I think it’s the test that isn’t working. She was all upset for days.

Quite frankly I knew that the water softener was working, because it only softened the water in the bathroom and not in the kitchen, and I could tell the difference. And quite frankly, I liked the hard water better. It seemed to me that hard water was more manly. I didn’t want no gentle, sissy, soft water. I wanted it strong, solid, firm, and hard. In the end, we decided to get Zest. It was fine. A pretty good soap actually.

A Wise Old Man - February 17, 2014

I went ice skating recently. I’m not a particularly good ice skater. This was only my third time doing it. What kind of surprises me about it, though, is how bad some people are. I don’t mean to insult anybody by saying this, but I’ve never understood what is hard about ice skating. Even the first time I tried it, I didn’t have much difficulty. Sure I was falling a bit, and losing control, but I understood the basic motions required to propel myself forward. In all fairness, I had done quite a bit of rollerblading before I ever went ice skating, and the act of skating is similar whether on ice or on asphalt. Even then, though, I never remember having trouble rollerblading. I watched other people do it, and then emulated the body motions I saw, and everything else was natural.

In all honesty, on this occasion I legitimately fell like two or three times, and lost control quite a few times. So, like I said, I’m not particularly good, just not as bad as those that fell more than three times. In any case, I decided to poke fun at my friend Keith, who was having trouble with skating and balance. So I pretended to fall while he was watching me. And by falling you must picture the most obvious fake fall that you possibly can. In slow motion I waved my hands in the air as if I had lost control, then reached my hands down to the ice, sliding on my hands and feet for a foot or two, and then casually rolled the rest of my body onto the ice. Had you seen the fall, you’d know I was just being a jerk. I did this three times, and on the third one I did it right in front of him. He crashed into my fallen corpse, my fault of course, and went down himself. I felt a little bad for causing him to fall.

So we have a good laugh. I apologize for being a jerk to him, and we’re about to get up when some dude, that neither of us knows, skates up to us. This guy had a concerned look on his face, like you might see on a mother that just watched her son discover a bee sting for the first time. He asks me, Are you okay? I realized then, in that moment, that he hadn’t seen me fall. He only saw the aftermath of it. Possibly he saw Keith tripping over me. As far as his perception was concerned I had potentially been seriously injured. I say I because he didn’t really express any concern towards Keith. That’s why I think he saw Keith trip over me, and his fall had appeared harmless. By the time I stood up I kind of realized that there was pretty much no way to explain that it was all a joke. Had I said, Yeah, dude, we were just joking around. He would have thought I was saying that so I wouldn’t look as incompetent as he had perceived I was. So I didn’t say anything, and thanked him for his concern.

When I was in middle school I’d walk home with some of the other kids that lived in the same neighborhood as me. Sometimes it was with these kids that were a year my junior, Kevin and Michael. Usually I’d take a direct route to get home, sticking with the sidewalks and roads. There was also service road that ran the length of an irrigation canal on the edge of my neighborhood. It ran right behind Michael’s house, so it wasn’t too inconvenient to walk down it, cut into Michael’s backyard, and go home from there. So this was a route frequently used when walking home with Michael.

As boys do, we found ourselves playing around the canal. Skipping rocks was our chosen activity of the day. Catching crawdads was also a common activity to do in the canal. I didn’t do much crawdad fishing myself. They looked too much like bugs, and that kind of grossed me out. Since Michael lived next to the canal he’d catch and eat them all the time. I didn’t even know such a creature existed until I was in middles school. I only ever remember picking one up once. I digress, though. We were skipping rocks. When it comes to skipping rocks it’s only natural to have different goals such as getting the most skips, getting the furthest bounce, or the longest distance before the skipping ends, getting the biggest rock to skip, and so on. We were competing for about ten minutes when a man approached us.

He was an older man. I can’t say exactly how old, because when I was thirteen my perception of age was much different from what it is now. He had gray hair and was bearded. He wore a trail hat and other attire that yearned for the call of the wild. A flannel shirt comes to memory. I don’t know where the man had come from. From the west side of the canal, I figured, since my neighborhood was on the east side, and I thought I would have recognized anyone from there. As we stared in awe at this man of age and experience, we stopped our rock skipping and sat down with our legs crossed. The man knelt in front of us.

I want to tell you young men a story, he said. It was a compliment that he called us young men. He was a warm man. A friendly man. He had a certain look of sadness though. When I was about your age, he continued, I had a .22 rifle, and I thought it would be fun to shoot some ducks. He paused just for a brief moment, looking at each of us one by one. It was important that we were all listening. So I did. He took his hat off and held it to his chest. Looking up to the sky he said, I’ve regretted that my whole life. We all nodded. Our mouths opening just a little. He stood up. I just don’t want you boys... he’d called us boys, not young men, ...to do anything that you’d regret. We sat there in silence. He walked away, and disappeared off into the wilderness of our neighborhood.

We couldn’t speak for a few minutes. How can you speak after a man of age and experience imparts his wisdom on you. You have to wait for him to disappear. You have to ponder on what he’s said. You’re also a young boy, so eventually something has to be said. Well, that was pretty weird, Kevin said. Michael and I agreed. We stood up scratching our heads.

Quack, we looked around, quack, quack, quack. We saw it. There were some ducks on the other side of the canal. Swimming around under some tree branches that hung low over the canal. We looked amongst each other and understood. Everything had come full circle. We hadn’t even been skipping stones in that direction. Perception.

I hadn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird at that time, but in retrospect I can’t help but wonder if that old man walked away feeling like Atticus Finch. He’d just had his it’s-a-sin-to-kill-a-mockingbird moment. In a way, he’d redeemed himself of his sins by preventing other boys from doing the same. He went home feeling good about himself. I kind of laugh about it to myself now. I wonder if I should though. In a lot of ways perception matters. Unless some actual bad comes from it, does an incorrect perception even matter? I don’t know for sure. I’m not an old man of wisdom yet. As far as that man was concerned, he was a wise old man. We kids had a good laugh about it. Really it was positive feelings all around, and no animals were harmed, so I think everybody won.


Categories: 1995-1998 Middle

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