I packed up the family last week and drove down to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Here are some interesting and possibly true and/or false facts about this city.
Santa Fe was founded, according to my daughter Isabel, during the time of dinosaurs. Apparently this was a very busy time that also covered various events such as the creation of the cosmos up until sometime after the time I was born. This claim is supported by the fact that the roads were constructed before the discovery of Euclidean geometry that defined the concept of straight lines. During the initial road building the construction crews ingested liberal quantities of peyote and followed the direction of their spirit guides. This process has led to a series of city streets that curve around randomly, perform loopy-loops, and pass through dimensions that modern day scientists have been unable to recreate. Warning– using Google Maps on your cell phone may very well cause your device to catch on fire.
The city was a pretty quiet place until the arrival of the stucco mafia in the late 1800’s. The city experienced several decades of turmoil until the great drywall massacre of 1847 when the stucco mafia formed an alliance with the wind-catcher union and the trendy restaurant federation. The effects of this epic battle can still be seen today as Santa Fe is best known for endless stucco buildings, people selling wind-catchers for large sums of money built from materials scavenged from the local dump, and a barrage of food establishments which sell strange food on tiny plates that for some reason have to cost way more than seems reasonable.
Well, that about sums up everything I learned last week on vacation. Stay tuned for my next vacation trip blog tentatively titled, “Crap I found in the basement and argue with my wife about if we should throw it away.” I’ll be working on a better title for that between now and August.
After reading the dozen tweets from Neil deGrasse Tyson regarding the accuracy of the movie Gravity, I would like to point out a glaring inaccuracy in the title sequence of the television series Cosmos. Even if you could travel faster than the speed of light through the cosmos the stars wouldn’t appear to move relative to one another. At most you would be able to see one star in the center fly at you as you passed next to it as the rest of the cosmos appeared static. Star Wars and Star Trek are also guilty of this mistake, but I have been unable to reach George Lucas and J.J. Abrams to rectify the problem. Also, they are fictional stories.
Despite this slight issue with the show I would like compliment Mr. Tyson on doing a great job promoting scientific principles to the world at large.
So I finished turning 40 on Thursday. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is that when I deliver packages in the trailer park the trampy women aren’t throwing themselves at me like they did when I was 39 earlier in the week.
So as of this Saturday I’ve officially been a full time package driver at United Parcel Service for 10 years. Only another 10 or 20 years left until I can retire and start drawing my pension. Too bad I didn’t start at UPS earlier.
Also, I’ve come to the realization that I only have 12 more days to earn myself a Field Metal for Mathematical achievement. Apparently once you turn 40 you are no longer eligible for the award. I’ll have to think of a simple polynomial time solution for the “traveling salesman problem” while I’m at work this week. Or as I like to think of it, “the UPS driver wants to get home before his kids go to bed dilemma.”
Delivering packages at the mall is making me feel old. I was at Sephora this week when one of the girls asked if I would get mad if she moved by me as I was unloading packages. I replied that I was “living in a powder keg and giving off sparks.” None of the three girls in the room understood what I was saying even when I clarified that it was a lyric from Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Still nothing. So next I went to the eye center and explained what just happened and none of them knew what I was talking about until one girl piped up and said “I think I heard that song on American Idol.” I guess that’s something. I was going to make a reference to the song “Glory Days” but I didn’t feel like explaining to everyone about Bruce Springsteen.
So I was playing around on my computer last night and I submitted another idea I’ve been kicking around in my head for the past few months. I don’t have anywhere near the time and effort into this idea as my remote control stuff, but I still think it has a lot of potential. Feel free to vote on it on their website if you like the idea:
A camera in both pointy ends of a football lets everyone see the game from a new perspective.
Nobody can see the game from the football’s point of view.
Two small cameras are a placed at both ends of a football. These cameras broadcast over wi-fi to nearby computers, authorized cell phones, and even directly to the internet without getting in the way of the game. Software would automatically “un-spin” the view when the ball is thrown for a smooth bird’s eye view from both ends of the ball.
I don’t spend too much time talking about my remote control patent mostly because there isn’t much humor in United States patents named “Electronic Control Conservation Devices.” My idea is a remote control cradle that completely shuts off power to a home entertainment system. When the remote is placed in the cradle power to the home entertainment system is shut off. Removing the remote from the cradle restores power to the system. Here is an early prototype:
I’ve submitted the idea to the website quirky.com. If I can get 200 votes for it in the next 30 days they will consider producing it. I’ve already gotten 5 people to vote for it at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night. If you would like to see this on the shelves at your local stores please vote for it at the following link:
I decided last night that when one person is in bed laying on their back and the other person is snuggled up on their side it is called “T-spooning.” Kat’s thoughts on my revelation- “Go to sleep already!”
After reportedly turning down a three billion dollar buyout offer from Facebook for their service that sends messages which disappear seconds after being read, the leaders of Snapchat are facing new issues after hackers exploited a weakness in the software that allowed them to download the usernames and phone numbers of 4.6 million users. When asked for a comment on these recent events, the company CEO replied, “OK, well maybe things haven’t gone so well for us this week, but we can still cash out for three billion. I have the offer on my computer right here. Wait a minute– it was just here in my message folder. HOW DID I LOSE AN OFFER FOR THREE BILLION DOLLARS?!!?!?”
President Obama has chosen a former Microsoft executive, Kurt DelBene, to replace Jeffrey D. Zients as head of the effort to finish repairs on the government’s health insurance website, administration officials said on Tuesday. “I’m bringing in years of experience to turn this project around,” commented DelBene. “We want to create a website that is functional and easy for the American public to understand. For example, once an individual has reached their lifetime payout limit the website will simply display the ‘blue screen of death’.”
So I was driving down the street in my UPS truck one afternoon in November when a man in a large red truck flew by me, slammed on his brakes, and stopped his craft diagonally in the middle of the street. Before I even had time to stop my vehicle he jumped out into the roadway and started running towards me. He was surprisingly fast considering his hefty girth, red furry outfit, and rather excessive quantities of facial hair. Once he arrived at my passenger side door he looked at me with an odd sense of clarity and focus and yelled, “Omar– it is me, Santa Claus, and I need you to save Christmas!”
“What can I do to save Christmas?” I asked Mr. Kringle.
“This is a little bit embarrassing,” Santa explained, “but I was online the other night and apparently I downloaded a virus on my business computer. It scoured my files for personal information and found the title to my magic Christmas sleigh. I don’t understand all the details, but before I even knew what happened someone had dispatched a specially equipped tow truck to the North Pole to take possession of my most important piece of Christmas equipment. The driver sympathized with my situation but insisted there was nothing he could do since all the paperwork was all in order.”
“That’s not good.” I replied as I realized how stupid and obvious that sounded three seconds after the words left my mouth.
Santa looked at me like that was the most stupid and obvious statement that I could have possibly made at that point in time. Then he took a deep breath and explained how I can help him remedy the situation.
“I went to the North Pole legal department and they did a complete investigation. It turns out that my sled is being stored in a holding facility. If I can’t come up with the payment in the next thirty days the vehicle will be legally transferred to the Russian mob.
“But how can I help? I’m just a UPS driver.” I explained. “How much money do you need to get your sleigh back?”
“That’s the problem Omar. They don’t want money. The only way I can get it back is to give them THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS LETTER EVER WRITTEN! I looked online and I’m impressed with your archive of Christmas letters going all the way back to 1995. But you need to step up your game this year or the holidays will be ruined for the entire planet.
“I’ll get right on it.” I told Santa. “Just let me finish my deliveries, do all my pickups, drive the truck back to the center, unload my air and international packages, park my truck, turn in my paperwork, punch out, drive home, take a shower, eat dinner, play with my kids, and then I’ll get right on it.
While I was saying all of that, Santa had already walked most of the way back to his truck. He looked back at me as he climbed into the cab and yelled “I’m counting on you, Omar!”
Later that evening I sat down at my laptop ready to write the most important story ever with my usual writing aids that included a “party size” bag of Wavy Lays potato chips, a cold two liter bottle of Diet Pepsi, and three full boxes of Sweet Tarts. I fired up my “inspirational Pink Floyd” playlist and went to work. I wrote an amazing letter. It was concise yet detailed, funny yet touching, and inspirational yet not preachy. I was all ready to email it to Santa when a somewhat suspicious Russian mobster looked in my kitchen window. He picked up an unusual piece of electronic equipment. When he pressed a prominent red button on the top of the device all the electronic devices in my house stopped working. He chuckled softly, walked back to his unmarked van, and drove away. I was going to chase him, but I was busy injecting insulin into my body as this writing experience had apparently given me type one diabetes.
So this is not the greatest Christmas letter in the world– this is just a tribute.
In my world 2013 will be remembered most as “the year Omar got his own route at United Parcel Service.” I had spent the previous nine years as a swing driver doing other driver’s routes when they were on vacation or injured. While I enjoyed it for the most part, there are some definite benefits to having a set route. Here, in no particular order, are some of said benefits. Customers miss me when I’m on vacation. I can tape up photographs of my family on my visor. I don’t drive around looking for addresses. My truck is an automatic. So if you live or work in the area west of I-25, east of Timberline, south of Horsetooth, and north of Harmony in Fort Collins and you order a lot of shoes from the internet you should be expecting to see quite a bit of me in the future.
This year we decided to tackle remodeling our kitchen. We spent the previous weekend watching HGTV and Katherine and I both felt completely prepared for what lay ahead. After ripping out about half the old cabinetry we discovered that, wow, the makers of those television shows make things look way easier than they are in real life. We also discovered that the order of certain tasks can be very critical when installing a new kitchen. For example, putting in all the new cabinets before the counter tops arrive is generally a plus. Despite numerous setbacks of varying degrees of ickyness we now have a new kitchen which suits our needs much better than the last one. One more piece of advice for anyone considering this type of project– if you build a large island into your new kitchen it will, from the instant the counter tops are installed, act as a rare earth magnet for attracting random objects from the rest of the house. Either that or I’m getting up and moving everything on to the island in my sleep.
Finally, I thought I would end my letter with the most insightful comment from my Facebook page from the last year: The older you get, the harder it is to be a prime number.
Snapchat, the high-tech start up that lets users transmit text messages and images that disappear a few seconds after being sent, has recently turned down a $3 billion dollar offer from Facebook. When asked for a comment on the situation a high ranking yet unnamed official at the company replied, “We believe that there is a lot more money to be made by taking all this stuff everyone thinks is getting erased and selling it to the Russian Mob.”
I was talking with my chiropractor the other day about “horse punching” in movies. He said they use trip wires to knock the horse over which seems pretty cruel to the animal. While he was twisting my neck back and forth I made the reassuring observation that “at least with today’s computer animation technology any future horse punching scenes can be rendered digitally.”
So I’m watching Wall-e (again) and now I’m trying to figure out how exactly he hooked up a 1980’s VCR to a first generation iPod to watch “Hello Dolly.” I think it is safe to say that I’ve watched this movie about 100 times beyond the recommended lifetime allowance for any adult male human.
For the first time in several years I had the entire house to myself for the entire week. My wife, children and in-laws all skipped town to go see my brother-in-law get married. I would have gone too, but I wasn’t able to get the week off of work to make the trip up to Michigan. I stayed home, worked Monday through Friday, and kept an eye or two on the dogs to make sure they stayed out of trouble.
On the week nights I didn’t do too much out of the ordinary. For the most part I would come home, clean up, feed the dogs, and, if I could stay awake long enough, watch a movie on Netflix from the category “Stuff you aren’t allowed to watch with the kids in the house.” The list includes Battlestar Gallactica, Caprica, Rush Hour,and Highlander. My wife doesn’t seem to want to watch Highlander with me much anymore. Well, that isn’t exactly true– she really never wanted to see it from, I suspect, the moment of her birth. Especially impressive since Highlander wasn’t released until several years after her original birthday. I’m not sure what her exact stance is on the four sequels and the cable television series, but I suspect it lands somewhere in the– and I’m being generous here– “unfavorable” to “throw the lamp into the television to make it stop” range.
So what about the weekend? On Saturday night I went out with a friend from work to play laser tag. I used to play a lot in high school, but I think it has been at least 15 years since I last strapped on a laser tag vest. While there have been some minor technological improvements, the game is pretty much the same as I remembered. Right before leaving the house I started a load of laundry. This explained why, when we entered the black-light lit staging area, my hands were glowing bright white. Maybe I’ve watched a few too many episodes of CSI, but I kept thinking that everyone else was thinking that my hands were recently covered in blood or other bodily fluids. I would have gotten away with killing that hobo if I hadn’t gone to play laser tag after having disposed of the body in a wood chipper. I’ll remember that for next time.
That about wraps up the notable activities for the week. Everyone is coming back tomorrow evening, so things will be back to normal when I come home from work tomorrow night. Hmm… maybe I have enough time to watch Terminator 2 before I go to sleep tonight.
I’ve peered into my 17-months-into-the-future crystal ball, and a disturbing development has come to light. An unnamed evil marketing company has developed a new interactive robo-calling computer with the objective of selling a specific product or service. This practice, known as “Siri Snooping,” can simultaneously interact with tens of thousands of humans using countless different voice patterns and vocabulary sets based on individual personal data. Authorities are trying to track down the physical location of this rogue computer system with their primary suspect being, of course, “Watson! The Jeopardy Winning Computer.”
I hurt my back last week opening the rear door of my UPS truck. The chiropractor took x-rays of my spine and explained how a healthy back should curve like the letter “S”. My back looked more like a combination of a treble clef and the unpronounceable symbol used by the artist formerly known as Prince.