Monday, January 28, 2008

Uncommon Courtesy

I walked into the Fresno In-N-Out fifteen minutes before they closed in the first morning hours of last night. I was hungry, had a Christmas gift card to spend, and a long snowy drive ahead of me. I ordered two cheeseburgers with extra veggies, onions grilled, and a cup of coffee. The drive-thru was full, and the dinning room was just starting to empty out. I returned the obligatory “Have a good night” with a genuine “Thank you, how is your night?” It was nice to hear a real response, as the man working the register took a breath and looked up from his routine. I bid him good night, then settled down with my Sunday edition of the LA Times and cup of coffee.
He brought my food right to my table, instead of the usual call-to-pick up at the counter. I thanked him, but was not too surprised, since I was by this time the last customer in the room. Ten minutes later I had finished one burger and was immersed in a story about the Russian spy who allegedly poisoned British double-agents in a European hotel, when I was startled by a voice from across the room. “How's your coffee; is it cold?” Not one to complain, even if it had been cold fifteen minutes ago when I first got it, I hesitated in my response. “It's not hot. I guess it's a little cold—“ “Brew a fresh pot of coffee!”, he shouted into the back, “What kind do you want? Regular?” “Yeah, regular would be great.” Wow, they were pretty much closed, probably not going to get another customer, and here they were brewing a fresh pot of coffee for me the last customer. I didn't even ask for it. Of course my coffee is going to be cold after sitting around reading a newspaper like I had been, what was I supposed to say?. Eight minutes later, I was back in the newspaper, when suddenly, he was there at my table. “Can I dump that out and fill it up for you?” as he took my cup, then returned it with piping hot, fresh coffee.

That man showed me uncommon, undeserved, and unexpected character last night. What a different world this would be if that were more... common.
I left wondering if he knew Jesus Christ, because that's the kind of selfless behavior that could lead a man to the cross.

Macgyver is still there.

Yesterday, I drove down to Fresno to do some shopping, sit in a coffee shop, and watch a movie in the theater. My first stop was Costco; I got what I needed and also a good book and a case of fresh mangos, then headed out to my truck. Oh, the frustration of habits born of life at Hume Lake. I had locked my key in my car. There is was, clearly stuck in the ignition with the red HPI bracelet hanging down, taunting me from outside. Fortunately, the rain had briefly let up, yet still my heart started rushing with adrenaline.

My mind started racing through options and possible solutions to my situation. I was by myself, I had no AAA roadside assistance to help me, or a friend in another car with AAA. I went through an inventory of what "tools" I had in my possession. A credit card, Costco card, Drivers license, a Hume 2 and 3 key on a metal ring, and a shopping cart with bread and eggs, The Kite Runner, juice, and a new Optima RedTop car battery. I looked around for a hanger or some other metal object in the parking lot- nothing. I checked all my windows and doors- closed and locked. Suddenly, I realized that the new car battery that I just bought had a convenient plastic carrying handle. A carrying handle which conveniently would double as a Slim-Jim in situations such as these. I removed that handle, and worked at the rear quarter window of my truck for about ten minutes. It took me longer than I thought it would, but I worked the long gray plastic handle in between the glass and the rubber seal along the top edge of the triangle shaped window, then slid it down to the plastic release that opens the window just an inch for ventilation. I was able to pop the catch open, then fold the handle out and around so the window opened. That little inch was all I needed. Then, I used the plastic again, to remove the handle from the steel pin that it hinged upon so that the glass was completely loose on one side. Them, I reached in and unlocked my door. There it's as easy as that. Now you can break into my car, too!

The only casualties were the incriminating looks from upper middle class Costco customers as I broke into a car, and a few drops of blood on my hand from a scrape as I was manouvering the plastic on the latch. A few drops of blood that I was very conscious of as my next stop was shopping at the Nordstom Rack. I felt very out of place among the high class bargain shoppers of Fresno with blood still on my hands from who knows what heinous crime.

As I finished, and got into my truck, I suddenly realized what a rush that it all was! How fun it was to feel stuck and helpless, only to make a way out. Macgyver was still there, even though I hadn't seen him come out in quite a while. I almost wondered if I had unconsciously locked my keys in my car on purpose merely for the sake of a little adventure.

I guess I'll never know for sure.

French, But Not So Chic

[an interview with one of my favourite directors]

[from Sunday's LA Times]
by Monica Corcoran, Times Staff Writer

, the director and Oscar-winning screenwriter, is known for his trippy visual style and vivid imagery. But the man behind "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" doesn't favor fashion as a form of self-expression. In fact, he hates it. Still, Gondry -- in town for the premiere of his film "Be Kind Rewind," which stars Jack Black and Mos Def -- sat down and bemusedly chatted about style over a cup of hot tea.

Why don't you like fashion? You're French.

It makes you feel embarrassed about what you wear. I was watching a documentary on Duran Duran, and after five minutes, I had to turn it off. I couldn't bear to see how they were dressed. I was thinking that the '80s were so horrible.

Don't you have any fashion faux pas in your past?

In 1977, I probably looked a lot like a hippie. I had long hair and wore purple pants.

How would you describe your personal style?

I wear all the same clothes since I was born. I wear plaid and corduroy and shoes for old men. I like soft shoes. I hate pointy shoes that say, 'I am arty and rock 'n' roll.'

How did you direct your costume designers -- Rahel Afiley and Kishu Chand -- to come up with a wardrobe for your new film?

For "Be Kind Rewind," I told the stylists that they had to buy all the clothes in Passaic, N.J., at thrift stores or stores where everything costs five bucks.


When I work with a stylist on a film, I always ask the person to go in the street and take pictures of everybody. I am surprised that all stylists don't do that. They always bring you magazines to show you what people should wear.

That's not reality.

Do you shop at thrift stores?

No. I rarely shop at all. My size has not changed, and so I don't know why I should buy new clothes.

In "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," Kate Winslet's hair color changes constantly. What does that say about a woman?

For that character, it says that she is not completely at ease with herself. She does it for provocation too. My son -- he is 16 -- did it to his hair a few months ago and he has a whole new personality.

Do you have any favorite designers?

No. I went to a fashion show for those girls who live with their parents in L.A. [Rodarte], and the reporter asked me what I was wearing.

I said, "Gap."

An Outlaw and Rising Star in Russia

"I don't agree that the Cold War is back.
It has never ended."

~Andrei Lugovoy, the prime suspect in the 2006 radioactive poisoning death of a former Russian spy in London, and recently elected member of the Russian parliament.

"If you're looking for Russia's most notorious international outlaw, try his new office in parliament."
~Megan K. Stack, L.A. Times Staff Writer.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Someday I'll Sail

I just started reading Two Years Before the Mast. It was written by Richard Dana, a high class, student from a well established east coast family. He dropped out of an ivy league school in 1838 due to poor eye sight. So, he decided to take a low position on a Man o War ship traveling around the tip of southern America to California and back. He kept journals the whole time, then turned it into a story and published a book immediately after he returned. It was the first published account of life on a ship, it inspired several other books, and provoked change in the conditions and pay of sailors all around the world, much like Upton Sinclair's The Jungle did for factory workers during the industrial revolution in America, and Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin did for the anti-slavery cause in the 1850s.

I'm really enjoying the book so far, as this seems like something that I would really enjoy doing in real life. I thought that it might be a droll read, but it's quite lively. I read the following quote by the author in the introduction to the book. It gave me a larger reason for reading the book. I think that it's something more of us should learn, as modeled by the God, who "became flesh."

He had left for a little while the company of those who have “ never walked but one line from their cradles to their graves. We must come down from our heights, and leave our straight paths for the by-ways and low places of life, if we would learn truths by strong contrasts; and in hovels, in forecastles, and among our own outcasts in foreign lands, see what has been wrought among our fellow-creatures by accident, hardship, or vice.”

-Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before the Mast

And, yes,

I am back in the market for a sailboat.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary has died

Announcing Sir Edmund's death on Friday, New Zealand's prime minister described him as a "heroic figure who not only 'knocked off' Everest but lived a life of determination, humility and generosity".

Check the BBC Article here.