Compliments for 100 Dollars

I walk past a middle school at lunch every day. Most days we all just carry on with our own work (mine: dog walking, theirs: game playing), but today was different.

As I walked by the school yard, one of the kids kicked a ball over the fence and across the street. She asked if I would throw it back over, apologizing a lot as she did. It’s no real burden for me, so I retrieved it and threw it back over.

Another student asked if I could help retrieve a second ball, and then a third (there wasn’t a fourth). Again, not a problem, so I returned those balls as well. And then he said this:

“You’re so generous! Thank you! If I could pay you $100 I would, but I don’t have any money. Your dog is beautiful and healthy. Have a good day!”

Now, I can’t be sure of what drove him to have that little interaction with me. But I would like to imagine it’s a mixture of these things:

  1. Having a very high valuation of time.
  2. Having a very low valuation of a dollar.
  3. Having an innate sense for the existence of reciprocity.

Which then led him to decide that, knowing that he needed to pay for the use of my expensive time, a compliment to my dog was worth $100.

Unlucky in Travel

I was at dinner with friends recently and, during the course of our mutual catching up, was told that I have the most spectacular stories. We’re all travelers in that group, both for work and for pleasure, so the fact that I seem to have the most unusual experiences of all of us is notable.

Here are the most memorable circumstances, occurrences, and happenstances from the past year or so:

  • I told a 20-something man to stop verbally berating an older woman who was struggling to lift her luggage. He looked as though he might strike me, and for a moment I was worried he would. He did not.
  • A ticketing agent argued with me about my name for 10 minutes. She called a “Joseph Haden Chomphosy” to the desk, and I was sure it was my name but had gotten cut-off. We resolved it with me saying “If you think that somewhere on the planet, there is both a Joseph AND a Josepha with my last name and they both just happen to be in this building at the same time, you have a lot more faith than I do.”
  • A passenger had a panic attack in the door of the aircraft and her service dog got loose and wandered around the cockpit.
  • I flew out of an airport that was so small it hadn’t started taking electronic tickets yet. To this day I am not sure how they managed to get me on the plane, because it wasn’t with a paper ticket.
  • I had a long conversation about the educational system and how it doesn’t properly account for populations that suffer from systemic inequality.
  • On an entirely different flight, I had a long conversation about racism, college application processes, and real estate.
  • Three times I have practiced an upcoming presentation on random strangers (because our flights were delayed).
  • I was sent through security three times in 15 minutes at the same airport. They tested the same bottle every time even though it had been marked by them already.
  • I have been transported by random, non-taxi cars by two separate travel companions and have lived to tell the tale.
  • Twice I have shown up to an airport, ticket in hand, and been told that I am not a ticketed passenger.

And I didn’t even travel that much last year.

I was recently told by an absolutely brilliant woman that the best place for observational research is an airport, because that’s when people are their most honest selves. But if I believed what airports have to say about me, you’d think I was the unluckiest traveler around. ūüôā

Updates from Home: The Animal Edition

It is always the case that I write about animals on this blog. My dog Pepper is a frequent focus since she lives with me and it also incredibly adorable.

But this week I received two wonderful stories about two animals gone astray.

The Disorderly Donkey

This is¬†the story of a very silly donkey¬†and his¬†freedom run around town. This donkey had escaped from somewhere, I don’t know where, in the sunny college town in which he lived. Having discovered this new and wonderful freedom, he took to the neighboring yards. Some well-meaning citizen called the police and our dear friend the donkey, not ready to be once again a captive, began running through the streets.

If you’re not already smiling from the vision of this unfettered creature galloping through city streets, imagine a police officer chasing it down while shouting “Stop, Donkey, Stop!”.

In the end, the donkey was apprehended and returned to its rightful home.

The Fleeing Feline

This is the story of a very small cat. She is an indoor cat, but on this particular day was outside, tethered to a metal table. What with one thing and another, she became scared. The world is, afterall, a very big place for a very small cat. She was so scared that she ran away in fright.

If you are like me, you would think the table tether would stop her progress. It did not. She ran so fiercly from her fears that she took the metal table with her. The table, clangy as metal tables are wont to be, clanged along behind her causing evermore fearful running.

She, too, was aprehended in the end and returned to her rightful home.

And Thus Ends Our Stories

Now with all creatures returned safe and sound, we may all go along our merry ways. And remember… keep an eye on your pets!

Immortality, Space, and Doctor Who

First, let’s rip the bandaid right off this post’s title.¬†I don’t plan to talk about The Doctor.¬†He was merely an afterthought in this conversation that happened, naturally, over beers with friends at our local bar. Join me as I recreate this short and silly thought experiment.

Practical Problems with Immortality

Imagine for a moment, that you will live forever¬†(not in the “immortality of all matter” way, but in the science fiction way). ¬†At some point, you will witness the desctruction of your world the world you inhabit, either by natural¬†entropy¬†or by unnatural catastrophe.

A miracle occurs, or you are immortal, and you emerge unscathed.

So there you are. Floating about in space (ignore the part where you’re in a vacuum, we’re not trying to make sense of living forever right now). Eventually everything you had with you that was manufactured disintegrates. As the conversation went on it was decided that, given that you have nothing to do but think you would¬†become increasingly intelligent.¬†Let the record show that I diverged here, insisting that you would panic and become increasingly neurotic. Having thoughts without any way to conduct subsequent research does not a genius make.

The thought experiment ended thusly: any immortal, given enough time, will wind up drifting forever in space clad in nothing but their own brilliance.

At which point, I mentioned that this never happened to The Doctor who is, by all fictional accounts, both a variety of immortal and independently brilliant.

Feel free to discuss this with your families over the holidays!

WordCamp Fayetteville 2015

IMG_0015This past weekend I headed south for a bit of quality community time in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The lovely folks there can teach a thing or two about WordPress just as easily as they teach you¬†about hospitality.¬†I didn’t take any pictures all weekend, so I have for you one picture of me with a banner and one picture of a merhog.

¬†In case you are unsure of what a merhog is…it’s a hog with a fish tail. It is mythical. Honestly, it’s probably the myth of a myth, but here it is in all its glory regardless. A glorious myth’s myth.
Thank you and good night.

Updating Every Last Profile

It’s been about eight months since I last cut my hair. My face hasn’t changed at all, but you would be surprised how much six extra inches of hair can change the way you look. Like most people, I have a tendency to get one good photo and leave it for as long as humanly possible, but I’m officially at the point where I just have to update it. I have the photo, that’s not the issue. It’s that there are approximately six-squidillion sites that have my photo on them.

The very thought of updating all of them is sending shudders of dread down my spine.

You don’t realize as you wander through life just how many social media profiles you’ve amassed until you have to do something like update a single obsolete piece of data. At first you update facebook and Linkedin. Those make sense. After a while you remember about Google Plus and update that.

You are fairly certain you’re done, but then you are doing an image search of yourself one day (don’t act like you haven’t), and you stumble on your page. Then your ello page. Then tumbler. And Flickr. Each discovery compells you to search for the next car of the electronic train wreck that is your online presence. It’s like some cosmic joke at the expense of all the early adopters out there.

I would find it funny if I weren’t about to spend ten hours of my life reliving my misspent youth.

This of course doesn’t apply to anything I use gravatar with. That thing is the unicorn of profile photo management.