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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stairs vs Lift

If you live on the fifth floor of a building without a lift you will definitely get a lot of forced exercise, but is it worth the trouble? If you want to see a grown man cry just watch when someone gets down to the street and realizes that he forgot his phone. If you have to keep your bike inside your apartment your enthusiasm for stairs diminishes very quickly. Of course, all modern buildings have a lift but some of the most beautiful buildings in Valencia don't have this fairly modern convenience. Is a lift a "must" for you or do you have a bit of flexibility when it comes to humping up stairs? Take this simple test to determine what sort of building best suits your needs.

What is your tolerance for stairs?

A) I could live in a fifth floor walk-up.
B) Fourth floor without an elevator is my limit.
C) Only three flights of stairs for this trooper.
D) Two
E) One
F) No freaking way I’m living without an elevator and I never take the stairs.

I lived in a 3rd floor walk-up for two years here in Valencia and I didn't mind it a bit. I lived in a 4th floor walk-up very briefly and it sucked, mainly because I moved in and then out in the matter of a couple of weeks. This was in August and it was as hot as hell and the stairway was suffocating. A friend lives in a 6th floor walk-up in Barcelona and before she lived on the 5th floor here in Valencia without a lift; she obviously has a very high tolerance for stairs.

I usually take the stairs up to my fourth floor apartment if the elevator isn’t waiting for me when I walk into the building—unless I am carrying shit in which case all bets on walking are off. If I am wearing work-out clothes I take the stairs so I don’t think that I have gone completely soft. When I lived in Seattle I lived on the first floor so it was only a flight of stairs and two to reach the basement laundry room. The elevator was too old and scary for me.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Credit Where Credit is Due (Cash Only, Please!)

I'm what people call an idea man. Ideas fall off of me like leaves from a tree in autumn except that you don’t have to wait three whole seasons for the leaves to grow back and then fall off again as my ideas keep coming like an evergreen tree which really doesn’t have leaves unless needles are leaves but I think you get the point. After a run-on sentence you need to take a deep breath…run-on sentences and deep breaths are my ideas, both of them.  I am always thinking of new and exciting things. Exciting can be synonymous with dangerous but you sometimes never find out until you try something once...or twice assuming you survive the first time.  No one suspected that shoving a broom handle in the spokes of your bike wheel for the purposes of braking could present certain challenges to the safety of the rider when traveling at 50 kilometers an hour down a steep hill, but at least now we have answered that mystery. I’m not saying that all my ideas are good, just that I have a lot of them and for most I have received no credit or monetary recompense.

Everyone has heard of the rule that pizzas are free unless they are delivered in 30 minutes or less. I came up with that concept. Granted, I was working for the Detroit coroner’s office at the time and the notion of getting death certificates in 30 minutes or less oddly didn’t gain much popularity, but this same idea took the pizza delivery world by storm.  I haven’t received so much as a free order of cinnamon sticks for my brilliant idea.

If you read the instructions on a bottle of shampoo you’ll noticed that it says “Lather, rinse, and repeat.”  That whole “repeat” thing was my idea for which I received a boatload of cash. Unfortunately, I lost that and a lot more from subsequent legal battles after I put this same “repeat” instruction on a line of handguns I manufactured. Maybe I should mention that this rather stylish line of pistols were of a rather high caliber.

It was yours truly who came up with a numeric system for describing human elimination procedures; the old and very familiar #1 and #2.  For decades now this simple numerical hierarchy system has insured that two people wishing to use the same restroom at the same time have some kind of order as to who enters first, which would be #1, of course, unless they happen to be on holiday in Mexico in which case #2 trumps #1. Although I hold the patent on this procedure, I haven’t been able to turn even a modest profit. I have accepted my fate and I don’t waste time thinking about water—or other liquids or solids—under the bridge.
How was I to know that when I coined the phrase “The best things in life are free” it would come back to bite me on the ass?  I didn’t mean the stuff I came up with should be free; I was talking about stuff you download or that bag of groceries I got when the guy next to me on the bus fell asleep and missed his stop.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

“What Would I Have Done?”

It was 100 years ago today that James Cameron made the movie Titanic.  It has been a century of soul-searching, angst, and puzzlement that there hasn’t been a sequel.  All of us can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news of the unspeakable disaster, that the film was going to be re-released in 3D. The tragedy has plagued us with countless questions of ethics and morality and whether or not we can survive another tsunami of Celine Dion screeching from the radio. The question many of us are asking ourselves is “What would I have done?”

Would we have gone to see the film or would we have waited and downloaded it for free some years later as this technology was only the glimmer in the eyes of a few forward-thinking hackers? Would we have heroically stood aside while women and children filled the few lifeboats or would we have tossed out the smallest kids to make room for ourselves…and then tossed out another so that we'd have room for our luggage? Would we have admired the band for playing on in the face of certain death or would we have told them to “take a fucking break already” because they only knew three songs? Would we have cursed our luck and promised ourselves that if we made it out of this jam we would take the next trip on something really safe, like an enormous zeppelin filled with hydrogen gas? Would we praise the merits of the movie in countless conversations in an effort to score points with women or would we go with our gut feeling and say that it was “totally gay?”

Friday, April 06, 2012

The Bucket List From/To Hell

Is it half empty or just empty?

These are a few of the chores you need to cross off to assure yourself a seat in hell. They will undoubtedly make you a far more interesting person than if you follow the bucket list ideas most people have swallowed hook, line, and sinker. Think about it: your cat could raft down the Colorado River or skydive.  This is your life we are talking about, not a trip to some cheezy theme park. People always say that we should think outside the box. I’m saying that you should replace “box” with “normal boundaries of human decency.”

If you really want to impress people with your stories you need to spice them with at least one tall tale involving your tenure in some squalid Russian gulag or Mexican dungeon.  The key to survival in this hostile environment is taking out the toughest inmate as soon as they lock you up. This may be a little difficult with the Supreme Court’s new ruling in favor of allowing strip searches for almost any infraction as I was planning on smuggling in a Navy SEAL team to help me with personal security.

Lose a Major Body Part
Going through your whole life with both arms and legs just smacks of playing it too safe; try coloring outside the lines once in a while. Admiral Nelson, Moshe Dayan, and Miguel de Cervantes knew this and went out and took a few risks.  Missing a limb is a lot like a man wearing a hat: flaunt your missing appendage with panache and confidence and everyone else in the room will feel under-dressed for not being like you.

Contract a Frighteningly Disgusting Disease
Because cancer is so 20th century, be the first person at your health club to have a bout of the Black Death. That new spandex top will really show off your pustules.

Thrill Murder
This one could serve a practical function in your life and not just be about having fun, but why does it have to be one or the other? Do the world a favor with your multi-tasking skills and take out some enormous asshole like…I can’t think of any right off the top of my head but that’s just because it’s been a tough few years for the world’s enormous assholes. You may have to wait in line so bring something to read.

Be Excommunicated
I just think that being on the Pope’s shit list would be a great idea for my bucket list. The same goes for being fatwa’d by some hirsute ayatollah.

Drowning in Your Own Vomit
Because it's not just for rock drummers anymore and just about anything has to beat dying of old age.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

A Day with Canal Cocina

Yes, we have no ham.

Cooking shows have been all the rage for years. Spain is not different except for the fact that it was a food-obsessed nation long before the idea of the Food Channel—or Canal Cocina as it is called here—came along. In this era of Youtube and 24 hour food networks, bad food—like a heart attack—is something easily avoided.  Before I begin any new dish I scout it out first in Youtube, as I mentioned before in my post on The Abuela Project.  Youtube is the next best thing to having someone walk you through the dish for the first time. Today I plan on watching the cooking channel all day long (or until I get sick of it but I’m going to say that I watched it all day—how would you know if I did or didn’t?). I’m doing it so that you don’t have to watch or lie about  it.

The most obvious thing and what I learned almost immediately is that watching cooking shows makes you hungry.You would think that an essay about watching a Canal Cocina marathon would have a lot about the shows but I’m not really watching all of them. I basically just have the TV tuned to the channel and I’m going about my day more or less as usual.  I made some lentils and threw in some of the scraps from the end of my paleta of ham.  I also made Pollo al ChilindrĂ³n again. I made a video for this a couple of years ago so I took this opportunity to make another one in which I left out myself. As far as my cooking videos go, I probably have more people spying on me through my kitchen window than viewers on Youtube. I only wish that I had the skills and the equipment to make better videos.
Pollo al chilindrĂ³n with lentils