Friday, October 19, 2007

Treat or Treat

I remember when I was 11, I went trick or treating around the apartment complex. I was getting a good haul of candy that night. Apartments are great for that, plenty of targets to hit to load up on as much product as you can carry. I came upon one door and knocked. A middle-aged gentle man (middle-aged to an 11 year old could have meant he was only 23) answered as was the custom on such a night and according to the ritual I answered what every kid answers on Halloween.


The man kneels down, lit cigarette hanging from his mouth. He's got some sort of metal object in one hand and a tool of some sort in another. He touches the tool to the metal rod then pulls it slowly away as an electric arc appears, stretching from the tool to the object. It made a neat noise, it's firework-like properties looked cool. Even a young kid can appreciate the ozone smell that wafted from the event...but where's my candy? You know candy? Candy, sir? Candy that our generation begs for every year.

To my awe, I began to realize, he didn't have any. He said something like "Isn't that cool," or "There you go" and closed his door, waiting until the next sucker. Mmmm, a sucker would be good right about now. Wait a diddly darn minute!


In a daze, I moved on to neighbors willing to give me what I really wanted. People who knew this dance. People who knew what was required of them to satisfy a young lad such as my self.

Time marched on. I went on a couple more annual Halloween trips but soon, I was done. As the years went by, even the years when I was too old to go anymore, I still thought of that guy who showed me a spark instead of giving me the treat. And as I got older, I analyzed the phrase "Trick or Treat" and I started to realize what it really meant. It's a demand, but it's a demand with options. The man technically fulfilled his obligation by providing me a trick of all things, without the treat. I actually began to retroactively support this man for bucking the system, for fighting the power, for pointing out to kids that they should pay attention to the words coming out of their mouths, to think before they speak and to take responsibility for their verbal messages.

For years I secretly supported this anonymous man who I'd never met again after that fateful night. He was just as right as the those candy dispatchers to do what he did.

But time kept marching and when I reached adulthood, I started to question that faith in a new way. I was freakin' 11! Did he expect 11 year-olds to know that trick or treat didn't always mean treat? Did he think we were professors? Did he think we cared? No! I went completely the other way on this man years after that traumatic event. How dare he assume I knew what I was asking for! I was a kid! That was pretty jerky behavior now that I think about it. Doesn't he know that's how homes get egged?

Regardless of his intention and competence though, it's the one Halloween encounter I've always remembered.

Friday, October 12, 2007

In Rainbows

I bought the new Radiohead CD, In Rainbows. Here's the thing, it's only available online, on a website right now. I felt weird calling it a CD. It's not a CD given he medium it's stored on. I guess it's an album but even that term refers to large, black discs at one time. Music compilation? Tracks? Songs? Ok, I just bought In Rainbows.

There's no price either. No MSRP. No retail, no discount. It is donation only. It's whatever you think you should pay for the alb-er musical compilation. I paid £3 (Radiohead is a UK band). After credit card charge of about 50 pence, that's about $7 with the current exchange rate.

I thought for a second about the poor sap Americans, a very hefty portion of the music-buying market, not knowing the exchange rate or worse yet, not noticing the £ on the price prompt. If someone thinks he should pay 10 for the download and thinks he's entering dollars, he'll end up paying $20 for it. $15, the average price of a CD in this country would be $30 out of pocket for ten tracks.

This is not a bad method for making money - taking advantage of American exchange rate ignorance - at least until the customer gets his credit card statement.

Radiohead is a great band. I hope this works out for them.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Old Enough To Be President (or Senator)

I've spent half my life waiting on computers. I'm exhausted tonight.

On a day when I celebrate my 35th year on this planet, I wanted to record a few thoughts. It was about a ten minute process from computer boot up, to OS load, to browser initialize and getting the website interface to load to write my thoughts. Sometimes, it just seems better to go back to pen and paper. The life of a Luddite is very appealing on some days.

It is my birthday and I had a very good day. People at work threw me a birthday luncheon with grilled hot dogs, potato salad, chips, beans and chocolate cake. It was nice to have everyone there.

After a long work day, I picked up my daughter from day care and came home. Mrs. Lock had a couple of more presents for me after giving me the big one over a month ago. The early gift was a crimson red and black DS lite. Tonight I received a package of fancy mini-cigars and a beautiful, red-dial wrist watch. I'm staring at it now on my wrist as I write this.

We grilled pork chops on the grill, had mashed potatoes and rolls. And of course Mrs. Lock made her famous white and delectable cake. The bad thing about us having our birthdays less than a week apart are the sweets and loads of left over cake we try to wade through. Bad bad bad for the waist line.

I was putting my daughter bed tonight. It's funny the rituals kids at her age (2 1/2) implement.The fact they have any habitual behavior outside of the instinctive needs is interesting. What, in evolution, gave two-year-olds the need to be repetitive about non-survival behavior? It seems like it would be important to the learning process but it doesn't seem very efficient.

Daughter Lock has this thing after she's in bed, to sign off as you're leaving her room. She has to say, in no certain order: "Bye" "I love you" and recently added to the repertoire "Good night" Sometimes these phrases are mentioned repeatedly. It has to be done every night or something might happen. We don't know what that something is because she's never tried to go to sleep without saying those things. Maybe she couldn't go to sleep. I doubt that. Maybe there's a bomb under her bed and certain key phrases have to be mentioned to disarm the bomb and she knows all of this. Whatever the reason, it's very important to her.

She has this other thing. She has associated "I'll be back" with "Goodbye." Nothing unusual if she is the one leaving, but if someone is leaving from her, it's a bit strange for her to yell out, "I'll be back." And she'll continue to yell it out until you respond with the exact thing she just said.

All very cute and mysterious mannerisms.

Mrs. Lock just asked me what time of the day I was born. It was in the nine o'clock hour. But I was born in Anchorage, Alaska. About a 5 hour difference from the timezone I live in now. Which means, as she pointed out, I was actually born October 10th EST (tomorrow).

No more cake please.