Friday, January 29, 2010

State of the Union: Hungry

Like all concerned and involved citizens of this great country, I was holding my breath to hear Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. And then I passed out, because that’s what happens when you hold your breath for too long. Okay, so maybe that was an exaggeration. I had no idea Obama was giving his State of the Union address (I was sleeping though, so that part is true). To be completely honest, I’ve watched more Twilight movies (two) than State of the Union addresses (zero)in my lifetime, which I’m pretty sure means I will soon be deported to some desolate foreign country, like North Dakota (in my defense, I didn’t want to see either one).

It’s not that I’m not an informed citizen. Far from it, I consider myself a “connoisseur” (I think that’s French for snob) of information. For instance, I know who is playing in the Super Bowl (not my Jaguars that’s who). I bet I even know more about what is going on in this country than Obama. I mean, how “in-touch” can he be considering he lives in the Vatican City? Wait, sorry that’s the Pope. By the way, why can’t there be a cool presidential hat that all of the presidents have to wear like that thing the pope has to wear? In fact, I think we should make America more like the drinking game Presidents and Asshole, which means we have to give the president a hat and elect the Asshole of the United States of America, who has to do whatever anyone in the country says (I nominate Dane Cook, only because Justin Bieber isn’t old enough).

Anyway, for those of you who also missed the speech, I’m pretty sure you didn’t miss anything. All presidential speeches are the same: sweeping statements, lots of assertive pointing, and at least one football analogy. It was probably made up of the same key words you always hear in presidential speeches, like “hope,” “progress,” “Monica Lewinsky’s snatch,” etc. At least George W. Bush tried to make them interesting by mispronouncing words, garbling sentences, and occasionally reverting to a language that he and Jeb made up smoking weed one day in high school. But just in case you do need to know the state of the union, I will give you my own state of the union address, which I did not write in capital letters because I am humble (and I always thought pushing the shift button was a nuisance anyway).

Now I’m sure that one of the big issues that everybody is thinking about and trying to solve is health care reform. Or at least I hope it is, because I’m not and somebody needs to be working on it. “Health care reform” is one of those phrases that become really popular for people to say but people like me don’t quite understand, like “trickle-down effect.” Now I don’t really have a firm grip on the “facts” of this issue, but I do know whose fault it is: old people. If the baby-boomers had just kept using drugs and having unprotected sex like they were supposed to and died already, we wouldn’t be having this problem. I think. Or maybe I’m thinking of social security. Oh well, old people living too long is a problem in any situation.

Now I don’t really have a horse in this race, since in five years I will either be living in Sweden with a supermodel or in jail for attempting to kidnap a supermodel, but either way I won’t have to worry much about health care. What I do know is we shouldn’t go to universal health care. Oh sure, it sounds like a really good idea that would benefit everyone but rich health insurance people (who we hate anyway). But there is one big disadvantage: the Canadians use it. Nothing good ever comes from adopting something the Canadians do (hockey, listening to Celine Dion, having intimate relations with moose) and we shouldn’t start now.

The other big issue is the financial crisis. Again, this is one of those things that I am vaguely aware of, but I don’t know how or why it happened. Sort of like Lady Gaga becoming popular. As far as I can understand, someone did something that resulted in something bad which led to more stuff and POOF! Everybody is broke. Or something like that. The guy who explained it to me used a lot of hand gestures, and at the time it made sense. But regardless of how it happened, I think we can all agree that we are in dire financial trouble. By “all,” I mean “not rich people.” Rich people somehow are always the people that get more money from the government, as if rich people are on some sort of endangered species list that must be protected by the government at all costs. They never give money to the people that need it, like students paying out of state tuition to go to the University of Colorado who are stuck in the snow because they have to drop down one grand every time they want to go back to Hawaii.

So yeah, in other words the state of the union is bleak. All of our celebrities are dying, there are still two Twilight movies left, an earthquake knocked over Haiti’s last two standing huts, and global warming has yet to make it stop snowing in Colorado. But then again, there are some signs of hope. For instance, The Who will be playing at the Super Bowl halftime show and Paula Abdul isn’t on American Idol anymore. Besides, as Barack Obama so eloquently said in his closing statement to make us Americans appreciate what we have: “Hey, you could be Tiger Woods.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's All Jibberish To Me

As you all know by now, school has started (if this has still not occurred to you then I apologize and you should just go back to sleep). This means school work, buying $500 worth of books that I will never use (mainly because I don’t know how to read) and those stupid introductions you have to go through on the first day where you have to name some interesting thing about yourself so your idiot teacher can try to remember your name. Seriously, some of these kids come up with the stupidest things to say about themselves. This semester we had one girl who admitted over the summer she had nothing to do, so she remembered every number 27 in the NFL. Another guy’s interesting fact was that he is from Colorado. Now, just to be clear, this class was taking place at the University of Colorado. Which is in Colorado. Where there are a lot of people from Colorado. This is like saying you like to drink beer at an AA meeting.

Anyway, my semester is already off to an interesting start thanks to one class in particular. The class - which consists of me, six girls, and some guy who sits there playing with a pocket knife - is a journalism class that meets once a week. Which is easy enough. But then we were told that we had to participate in a community service program on campus that tried to teach English to the foreign workers on campus.

Now, I have no problem with community service. I do my community a service every other day by not leaving my house. As long as the community service is something I can do, like mindlessly picking up trash, I’m fine with it. But teaching English to non-English speaking people is a little outside my skill set. Which is an understatement to say the least. It’s like saying calculus is a little outside the skill set of a gerbil. I mean, many people I know think I need English lessons of my own.

Never-the-less, there I was, sitting in a training session so I could be certified to permanently destroy some innocent workers chances of every learning English. Now, there were two groups of people in the room. There were the people who were in there because they know multiple languages and are majoring in Spanish and want to practice and genuinely feel for these workers and want to make the world a better place and cure AIDS and rescue Haitians from the rubble. Then there were the eight of us who were there because we were being forced to. And trust me; it was pretty evident who belonged to which group.

Now I’ve only had one experience with trying to learn a foreign language. I took Japanese for three years in high school, and left after those three years knowing less Japanese than a newborn horse. I blame this mostly on my Japanese teacher, Ms. Takizawa. Her teaching strategy was to never actually speak Japanese and just yell “Shut up Mitchell” every five seconds. And when she did teach us Japanese, it was always useless phrases, like “I love purple jackets.” As a straight man, I would never have a reason to inform a Japanese person that I enjoy wearing purple jackets. You never learn useful phrases in language classes, like “Where is your hospital? I think it’s infected” or “No officer, that is definitely not my cocaine.”

To be fair, I did spend most of those three years in class cheating, copying, sleeping, talking, eating, and doing everything but trying to learn any actual Japanese. This is because as an American, I feel it is not necessary to learn other languages. I think that is our right as the most powerful country in the world; other countries either learn to speak English or we nuke them off the face of the Earth. Besides, I personally don’t exactly like going to foreign countries, so why do I need to learn foreign language? In my experience, foreign countries are filled with, prepare yourself, foreign people. And I personally avoid any situation in which I might encounter French people. Besides, learning a foreign language is useless in the actual country. I’ve been to Japan three times, and never once have I been able to use my Japanese skills to know what they were saying. This is because people who actually speak the language speak it way too fast and make up their own words and never talk about their purple jackets.

So I think you can see why I’m a bit apprehensive about this whole tutor thing, and I haven’t even gotten into the part where I have to walk into campus for an hour tutoring session twice a week where I normally had the entire day off. All I know is that it is going to be an awkward hour of sitting there in silence while I point at the alphabet, which I will have inevitably written in the wrong order. So just a warning, if you encounter a worker on campus who seems to be speaking some form of broken English mixed with Japanese, give them a break. Maybe talk to them about their purple sweater.

Watching Our Weight in the New Year:.. And There It Goes

So the entire world is really obsessed with this whole earthquake in Haiti thing, but that is sort of depressing so I’m going to talk about a much funnier story of buildings falling down. This story is much funnier because it involves fat people. Everything is funnier with fat people. How else can you explain why people still watch Jay Leno?

Anyway, apparently a building in Sweden where a local weight watchers club regularly met collapsed during one of their meetings. For one thing, I had no idea that they had weight watchers in Europe (Sweden is in Europe right?). I always thought that obesity was one of those problems that only the U.S. had, like bad beer and “Jersey Shore.” Of course, it doesn’t help that I have no idea what weight watchers is. It sounds a little too similar to whale watching to me; like you just get on a bus and drive through Texas and take pictures of fat people dancing in the McDonalds’ dining room. In fact, it’s probably way better than whale watching because half the time you go whale watching you don’t see whales and they have to give you a refund. This is because whales, as it turns out, spend most of their time under the water, where you rarely see boats (or at least working boats).

Getting back to my point, to cure my ignorance about weight watchers, I decided to take my second nap of the day and think about it. When I woke up, I decided to go to their website. Apparently weight watchers is not a diet plan as much as it is “Fat People Anonymous.” The way it works is that you go to a meeting to talk to other fat people about being fat or where to find the best all-you-can-eat buffets in town. Maybe they do it while eating donuts. And just in case you were wondering, they do have a meeting location in Boulder, which is funny since most of the Boulder population is one tofu shortage away from starving to death.

Anyway, I thought this information would be helpful since it is just after New Years, when a lot of people are still pretending to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. Do you want to know why people always make these promises on New Years? Because a lot of people consume a lot of alcohol on New Year’s Eve, that’s why. Now, I’m not going to lie, I also made a New Year’s resolution. It was to stop setting unrealistic goals for myself, and so far I’ve really stuck to it well.

For instance, I have decided that going to school every day is expecting way too much of myself. Really, who goes to school five days a week? Which is why I’ve reversed the typical work week; I go to school two days a week and have five off (okay so I have one afternoon class on Wednesday, but the class is made up of me and six girls, so I don’t really count that one). This allows me to wake up at one in the afternoon almost every day. Which is good, because my other New Year’s resolution was to get more sleep.

Okay so there are some of you out there shaking your head at what a shame on society I am. The rest of you know me and have already gotten past this. I used to try and make New Year’s resolutions, but I would rarely keep to them. A year is a long time for a guy to stay in a commitment. I mean I’ve had classes for three days and I already had to be talked out of skipping some. So there is no way that some stupid promise at the beginning of the year is going to last until next week, much less December.

Do you know what we should do instead? New Day resolutions. All you do is make a resolution to keep to for the day. For instance, my resolution today was to not get hit by a bus (in order to fulfill this, I have not left my couch, where buses rarely go). Think about it, no long term commitments, so even if you pick a hard one, it’s not like you are really doing a lot of work. I mean if you make a New Day resolution to lose weight, just take a dump before you go to sleep and voila! (which means “poop!” in some foreign language). And of course if you fail, you don’t have to think about how big a failure you are for an entire depressing year. You simply make a new one the very next day!

Isn’t this fun?! Once again I’ve brought lowering standards to even lower depths. Speaking of which, my New Day resolution today is to not embarrass myself dancing. Of course, now that my roommate’s ringtone is “Love Machine,” this might be a harder task than I anticipated.