Runaway Future

13.9.2010

company policy

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 10:55

Swiped from elsewhere

Start with a cage containing five monkeys.

Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result – all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him.

After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked.

Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that’s the way it’s always been done round here.

And that, my friends, is how company policies are made.

8.9.2010

grocery debauchery

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 23:52

Went to the grocery store tonight, big mistake, the students are back in the city. Every year, the city doubles in size as the university kids come back and they all need food. And every year, doing those precious few weeks when they’re buying their first load of groceries, inevitably the stores run out of something.

Now it’s never the same thing! No, that would be too easy. Instead, every August, the stores play this Grocery Ordering Russian Roulette, trying to guess what the students want. This year, the store’s stocked up with Kraft Dinner and crackers and Cheerios. But sadly that just wasn’t the right combination, as I’m walking through I realize the store is completely out of eggs, grapes and Cheese Whiz. Better luck next year, Sobeys.

So I’m at the grocery store tonight, picking up a few things and I get to the checkout and the place is pretty packed so there’s a line. And right as I get to the little conveyor belt, there’s this girl behind me in line and hell, I can’t help myself so I look. I do the look, we’ve all done it. The look to see what the other people got.

Now, why is it that every girl that has to follow me in the grocery store line has a basket full of more civilized food than me?

I’m there with my processed cheese slices, my jar of pickles and a box of Froot Loops and she’s unloading some sort of flat bread, a container of hummus and some loose produce, not even in the little plastic baggies. I can just tell that this is not a girl I can engage in idle chitchat about what Archie and Betty and Veronica are up to these days (but seriously, have you seen the comic lately? They’ve made them look like real people, except you can’t because they are cartoon and everyone has in their heads what they already look like, so it approaches this weird uncanny valley thing, very disturbing).

And you know she’s done the look too, because she’s very quick to put the little divider bar down to make sure none of her wild rice gets mixed in with my Oreos. And I can just tell that I’m not going to win this little battle of one-upsmanship. ‘I brought the reusable bags this time! Oh, you’ve got a canvas bag that you made yourself…how keen’.

See this is why I like to go to the Farmers Market. Because it doesn’t matter what I get there, I’m always on the same level as the people beside me. Ah! Look at me, I’ve got bread that came in a paper bag too! Sandwich meat wrapped in butcher’s paper? Yes please! Give me a full pound’s worth! In fact, half the reason I go to the Farmers Market is to avoid the feeling I’m being judged at the supermarket. Free range? Ethical food choices? Eat local? Nah, just plain neurotic tendencies.

In fact more and more, I’m finding I’m purchasing more healthy foods all the time, not because of any consideration of mine to eat healthier, but simply because I hate feeling so inadequate every time I walk up there with a few packets of Kool-Aid, a can of chili and some cottage cheese.

But at least I’m eating healthier.

I was thinking, as I was writing this in my head, that this story, perhaps coupled with the snoring lady at the movie theatre and another story, maybe the nail polish fiasco would be the good basis of a comedy set.

I’m afraid who’s going to see this and think that somehow I think I’m funny. But that being said at times, I’ve been itching to ‘perform’ again in some capacity. So I wrote this piece in the way that I would present it as well..stand-up. Less funny observations about life and more anecdotes about my own neurosis. It’s likely a stupid idea, but every since one of my co-workers said that he was in fact keeping a list of funny things with the intention of one day turning it into a comedy set…I’ve thought, well I could do that.

Clearly, I’d try this at an open mic that no one would ever know about and hope for one pity laugh before running home crying. I’d also use a fake name.

The Next Chapter and other stories

Filed under: The Daily Grind — forbes @ 0:31

Once upon a time, many months ago, I came across this article on what drives people to create. It struck my eye, because it actually reminded me of a previous conversation with Chris about this space and how somehow it was important and should be backed up and saved and not lost (his thoughts, not mine). It has been more than five years since I started writing on this space and while I still bemoan the loss of futur.frandt.com, the predecessor to this blog that encapsulated my time in college (looking back fondly, it always makes me feel like I was more aware politically at that time, but I also need to acknowledge that I likely did not have a voice and admit that most of it was probably dreck, the meandering thoughts, keeping track of the day-to-day events) , this version of Runaway Future has covered likely the most significant period of growth in my life thus far.

I don’t know ‘why’ I keep this space going, the same reason why I don’t know why I still struggle at times with writing, the idea of writer’s block, the whooshing sounds of deadlines and hating the way turns of phrases won’t come to me and interviews won’t transcribe themselves and everything I type will sound like pure and absolute shit. But all I can say is I feel a constant drive, a compulsion to write.

It some ways, I compare it to running. In both cases, it’s something I alternate between loving and hating (and loving to hate), something I struggle with at times and have glorious breakthroughs at other times, something that I know that every time I pick up the pen or put on the shoes, I won’t be great, I won’t be the best, I’ll always need to work harder. It’s something that I’m never finished with, I’m rarely satisfied with and I always feel that I should keep going, that extra mile, that additional page.

In some ways, running has helped my discipline in writing. In others, it has hindered it, with it always easier to put on the shoes than it is to finish the article, more enjoyable to pound my feet against the pavement than my head against the keyboard. But I struggle with both and it’s only been recently, when realizing the simile there, that I’ve come to accept the struggle as part of the path and perhaps, enjoy the hardships of writing as much as I do with running.

When I run, I often do it alone, simply because I hate to have to keep up a conversation as I also focus solely on myself, my pace, my breathing. At the same time, I often talk with myself, nothing crazy or too out there, but usually the internal dialogue of sorting through the day, the challenges of life. Most of the time, I reach a point where I feel like I can’t go on and I whisper to myself ‘Almost home’ and even though I do it almost everytime I go out and in almost every case it’s a blatant lie that I am anywhere close to home, it provides enough of a life to clear that obstacle and keep going.

I’ve often thought about focusing my writing a bit more, either here or on my Tumblr, but always rejected it because I felt with that focus would come a lack of freedom.

I certainly could fill a blog talking about hockey (more on that in a minute) or running. Definitely on running: that sound of silence, the one I discovered running in the winter, when my passing makes the dried leaves rise up and chase me, skittering behind me on the sidewalk, it’s a silence I only recently rediscovered a few weeks ago on Young Ave, heading towards the park, in this, my first summer where I’ve actually tried to keep running through it. The shoes, oh wow, the shoes, I could talk for days about the shoes and the awful things those red Nikes have done to me and the glory of my second pair of blue Sauconys. The people, meeting first Erica and then Leslie on half-marathon and pulling each other through.

I’ve also debated continuing adding content but not for public consumption. My original motivation was for this to catalogue my thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams as I went through life, perhaps to one day serve as a memoir or basis thereof. I long ago learned, while living with roommates, that posting my personal feelings openly on a public area opens me to real world consequences. So I’ve toyed with the idea of a ‘Do You Remember’ area, for me, to keep track of those little anecdotes along the way, the majority of them drunken stories, either oft-repeated or ashamedly kept quiet, but worth remembering, the highlights and lowlights, capture my feelings before they’re gone. I just recently read something about memories and their wistful nature, from a book, from the library! (I’ve been going to the library recently) but won’t you know it, I forget what it was. Something about how perhaps forgetting things isn’t so bad, perhaps losing memories shouldn’t be mourned. Again, I forget.

I believe once before, I mused on a ‘Best of’ category, but realize that the quntity is just too much (over 350 posts now) and judging my own work seems to be so…biased.

I’m a little late to the party on this, but there’s a site that I recently discovered that takes samples of your writing and compares it to excerpts from famous writers, trying to say who your writing style is similar to. It’s famously wrong at times (Atwood tweeted that her writing was compared to Stephen King) and it doesn’t have every author programmed in, but I found it enjoyable in some regard.

Throwing some of the posts in here into the box, I came out with: Stephen King, Arthur C. Clark (for the year-in-review pieces), Chuck Palahniuk (something I thought was rather delightful, but I admit, I’ve never read his work), Cory Doctorow (the way BoingBoing is administered bugs me enough to not like this, seems hipsterish), a touch of Isaac Asimov, H.P. Lovecraft and Kurt Vonnegut and then also David Foster Wallace (who I picked up a book of essays by at the library (the library!) and found it enjoyable…but lengthy. I simply couldn’t keep going with it, I lost interest and moved on, with a scary thought in my head, maybe I am like him, I certainly ramble too much, but am I dull and boring? to who?)

Throwing my HF writing into the mix came up with: Arthur C. Clarke, James Joyce and David Foster Wallace again.

In other hockey news, I am temporarily covering the Ducks again, which excites me. More importantly, I am forcing myself to write articles that I enjoy (damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead!) and spent an hour tonight throwing half formed articles together on my mini-computer. Success (or at least satisfaction) with HF will undoubtedly lead to more meaningful content here (not to say the poetry, book excerpts and the ilk aren’t exciting). I often feel guilty producing content here when there’s work to be done for HF, but then I turn around and continue to not fulfill those responsibilities.

I only hope I can keep this pace.

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