The D300 Log

Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo

I was behind the Bruce front desk, with my back to the Bowling Alley and my nose buried in the building’s maintenance log. I finished up my work for the evening and closed the log. Turning around, I was taken aback by the steady stream of people walking left past the desk and up the front stairwell. I checked the time. Because it was late enough in the evening that no programs should be in progress, I walked outside to check out the scene.

Stepping into the front stairwell, I looked up and saw these people were walking up to the second floor.

I stepped out of the stairwell onto the D300 wing. The line of people stretched as far as I could see. I asked the nearest person, “What’s going on up here?” His response was to look at me and snicker at some joke I wasn’t yet privy to.

I eventually traced it to the community bath located at the center of the hallway.

At the door of the bath was Aaron, the D300 RA. In his hand was a can full of change. He was charging admission for people to enter the bathroom.

The residents at the front of the line recognized me as the Assistant Hall Director and began to get nervous, like kids whose dads have shown up to shutdown their delinquent behavior.

“Alright, what’s going on, Aaron?”

He waved the can in front of me, jingling the change in a clear communication that I was also expected to pay admission. He smiled sheepishly and said with his voice rising, “Umm, 10 cents?”

I glanced at him without saying a word. Then I stepped past him into the bathroom.

Bruce Hall community baths were ancient yet simple in design. In the center of the room were two sinks, flanked on the right by five shower stalls and on the left by an equal number of toilets. Whenver I stepped foot in there, I always recalculated the amount of my life wasted in that room when I was the D300 RA myself. I even thought about my favorite graffiti, which was written in Stall #2. Scrawled low on the left stall wall and written partially upside-down, you would have to sit on the pot, lean over as far as you could, then crank your head to read the simple words, “You are now shitting at a 45 degree angle.”

The bath was empty except for one person standing up in the far left toilet stall. The stall door was open, but the man standing in there wasn’t going #1. Instead, he was giggling. He popped out of the stall, and whatever smile he had disappered when he came face-to-face with me, his AHD. I told him not to worry, that I was just checking things out. He smiled and giggled, then slinked out of the room.

I entered the last stall and saw before me the biggest piece of shit I’ve ever seen.

Its circumference compared favorably to my upper arm. It stuck up out of the water, even to the edge of the toilet seat. Measuring its total length was problematic, since the other end snaked to some unknown distance down the hole, like a ghost shit that tore open the fabric of space/time.

Seriously, you should have seen this fucker! It still haunts my dreams.

Whoever did this must have turned themselves inside out, like “Screamers”. There should have been a trail of blood leading somewhere, but no clues were found. Analysis of the most-recent cafeteria menu was discussed amongst the crowd, but no one could correlate anything served with the end product before us. The next several days were spent keeping an eye on the Bruce Hall population, to see if any strange hospital admissions or obituaries were sighted.

The money that Aaron collected, he spent on a pizza party for his guys, the consumption of which probably contributed to Son of D300 Log at some point 36-72 hours later.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

When I was a kid, I had amazing ideas. Earth-changing ideas! Then my entrepreneurial spirit was crushed not once, but three times.

For the most part, I hated being a kid. I was always eager to be older, although I cannot recall why. Much of it had to do with how I feel most of the time today: that I was wasting valuable time, and that I had to get on with life.

My first idea was to complete all my lifetime’s sleep at once. Basically, I would just sleep 24 hours a day until my early 20s. Then after I awoke (and showered profusely), I would be awake all day and night for the rest of my life, fully able to take advantage of my young adulthood. Of course, I failed to factor in the years of education I needed to be an adult, plus the physical and emotional development I missed out upon. Did I mention I was a kid when I thought of this plan?

As I got older, I started to become aware of the great engineering feat that was my hometown of Dallas. I learned that there were vast networks of utilities that took our waste then returned it to us in the form of clean, treated potable water. And we were going through a ton of effort to clean that water, just to use it to flush our toilets. Why use clean water, I thought, when we could use sea water instead? We wouldn’t need to clean it for drinking purposes — it would just be used to flush toilets. And its salinity might help clean the surfaces as well, just like when you flush your sinuses. My brother was the one who clarified the cost savings for using less fresh water would be offset by the cost of eleventy-billion miles of pipes requiring installation from scratch country-wide.

With my brackish dreams dashed, I turned to problems of physics instead. Pooping during the winter was a tense process, thanks to the frigid toilet seat. I had this inspiration: what if toilets were filled with warm water instead of cold? That way, during that cold dark season, the warm water would heat the toilet and (by relation) its seat. You’d never have to sit on a cold toilet seat again! My dad’s response, “Then your piss would stink!”

Crushed, I tell you!

Photo Credit: Design You Trust

Officer Cueball, Southlake P.D.

Tsk Tsk Tsk

Today I read a tweet about Volvos, which made me think of the only friend I’ve ever known to actually drive a Volvo (Katie Thomas). From there, I started thinking about other friends who are equally outliers in their vehicle make & model choices, and I of course remembered Micha & her black Lincoln sedan. In a time when everyone drove CRX-SI’s or Camaros, Micha was bucking trends.

Back during high school, Southlake was seemingly small enough that you could fit it into one of the pockets of your Z Cavaricci pants. One time, Micha got into a fender-bender at the corner of Dove and Shady Oaks. Her car was rear-ended, knocking out the tail light. The Southlake officer attending the scene was a familiar one: a big, meaty individual with a perfectly-shaved chrome dome of a head. We sarcastically referred to him as “Officer Cueball”, and he was always around, it seemed. He wrote me my first-ever traffic ticket, which was my last one when I realized you could get out of subsequent tickets by telling officers, “Sorry I was speeding, but I was trying to get to football practice on time!” After Officer Cueball ensured that everyone was safe, he instructed Micha to get her tail light fixed at some point.

Several months later, I called Micha to see if she wanted to come over. I waited a long time for her to show, but she wasn’t there yet. I started to get worried and went outside to walk around & kill time while waiting for her to arrive. While out front, I peeked through the grove of trees which separated my house from the street, and I saw some flashing lights. I walked down to the creek to get a closer look, and I saw that the lights were from a police cruiser participating in a traffic stop. And when my cat’s eyes kicked in and I could see better, I saw that the perpetrator was a sedan…a black. Lincoln. Sedan.

I gleefully ran back to the house, then sat on the hood of my GMC Jimmy to ride out the traffic stop. Finally, the flashing lights stopped and slowly up the driveway came Micha. As her headlights illuminated me, she got full view of me laughing and going “tsk tsk tsk” with my fingers. In frustration, she sped to her parking spot, got out, glared at me, then said, “Suck it, clown!” before headed inside the house without me.

I followed her inside and found out that it was once again Officer Cueball on the scene. And that when he pulled Micha over, he wrote her a ticket for having a busted tail light, the very tail light he reminded her to fix and never did. I asked her if she said the same thing to Officer Cueball that she said to me, and I got an old-school middle finger.

It’s a good thing that Micha never changed.

Photo Credit: Wiffle GIF

The “Tallest” Mountain in North America

Mt. McKinley Initial Ascent

Several years ago, Slate Magazine compiled the worst things teachers said to some people. Some things were bitter, others were crushing, but overall they were stupid and pushed beyond the boundaries of fact. I had a similar experience which I was able to overcome…with a little help from my mom.

Mrs. Vogel went around my 6th-grade classroom, quizzing us on last night’s geography reading. I was doodling away, drawing some sort of Dungeons & Dragons map on the jacket of my textbook. She then posed the question, “What’s the tallest mountain in the United States?”

I shot my hand up and she called my name. “Mt. McKinley,” I said with full conviction.

“Wrong, Matthew,” she said before letting another child answer.

“Pikes Peak,” said some random little shit. “Correct,” said Mrs. Vogel.

But it couldn’t be Pikes Peak, I thought. I read this just the other day in our copy of the World Book Encyclopedia, the series of Encyclopedia Brittanica rip-offs I had read cover-to-cover several times as a kid.

I interrupted the teacher to protest. I insisted to Mrs. Vogel that Mt. McKinley was the tallest mountain.

Her reply kills me to this day. “Well, when I asked my question, I meant the contiguous 48 states, not Alaska.”

After I walked home later that day, mom asked me how school went. I told her what happened with my geography lesson, and she asked me to fetch the encyclopedia. And when we looked it up, I was correct — Mt. McKinley was tallest, and Alaska was part of the United States of America.

The next day, my mom contacted the school to correct the teacher. And in front of my classmates, my teach had to admit she was wrong. And for the rest of the year, I’m sure Mrs. Vogel had me on her shit list.

Geography, baby!

Photo Credit: University of Alaska Museum of the North

My Dallas Commute

Living in the suburbs and working near downtown Dallas has been a challenge ever since my company moved its offices to Uptown last February.

I’ve ended up relying on the following routine to ensure that I: a) get enough sleep; b) save money by eating a packed lunch vs. dining out; c) get my hours in at work; d) take advantage of the gym and work out everyday; and e) get to see my children before they go to bed. On most days, this schedule works out, but it is a challenge to keep up with on a regular basis:

  • 5:00am: I wake up & get dressed
  • 5:15am: I head downstairs and fire up my laptop. I then run an Alfred workflow script that launches several applications (Microsoft Outlook, Evernote, etc.). This synchronizes offline data onto my computer for later activity
  • 5:20am: eat breakfast
  • 5:30am: do an hour’s worth of work that requires me to be online, such as Google Drive documents
  • 6:25am: I write a quick love note to J. Then I grab my laptop bag, gym bag & lunch and head out the door
  • 6:30am: I drive from west McKinney to the Parker Road DART train station in Plano.
  • 6:55am: depending on what time I arrive at the train station, I take the first available RED or ORANGE train to Cityplace DART train station, then connect with the M-Line street car. During my train/street car rides, I work offline with the data downloaded to my laptop @ 5:15am (Microsoft Outlook emails, mostly)
  • 7:45am: I arrive at the Dallas office and immediately go to work
  • 11:30am: I grab my gym bag, walk across the street to Gold’s Gym Uptown, and change into my workout clothes
  • 11:45am: I begin my workout, where activity lasts 1 hour or less. My workouts almost exclusively consist of outdoor runs through various parts of downtown Dallas and/or Uptown
  • 12:45am: I cool down & recover from my workout inside Gold’s. This includes fueling, shower, and getting dressed in my work clothes
  • 1:15pm: I return to work. I then heat up my lunch and eat it at my desk while processing emails/IMs received during my absence
  • 4:45pm: I leave work to catch a bus or street car to my train connection. I have several options, which include steer car to Cityplace DART train station or several bus lines to either Pearl/Arts District or St. Paul DART train stations in downtown Dallas. If possible, I prefer the latter stations because it is easier to get a seat on rush hour trains
  • 5:15pm-5:30pm: I take the first available RED or ORANGE train to the Parker Road DART train station
  • 5:55pm-6:10pm: I arrive in Plano and commute home
  • 6:15pm-6:30pm: I arrive at home in McKinney, eat dinner, and catch up with the family
  • 7:00pm: I make my lunch for the following day
  • 7:15pm: start the children’s bedtime routines
  • 8:30pm: I shower and shave, then lay out my clothes for the following day. I also pack my gym bag with a fresh set of workout clothes
  • 9:30pm-10:00pm: start settling down either on the couch or in bed

Rinse, repeat.