Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Why you shouldn't make fun of surfers

They don't have many friends, but the ones they do have are fiercely loyal and extremely dumb; a gnarly combination.

Interesting concept, surfers. Sandy little bunch, aren't they? Liable to start a fight, if you let 'em. That first time your bottle of $300 liquor disappeared? Surfers. The first time you got into trouble at the theater, who were the little punks ragging you on from the front row? Surfers!

They aren't everywhere, but they might as well be. They seem to grow off the crest of waves and step onto the land, mollified like bronze rays of sunlight reflecting off of a $300 magazine. They're ambitious like the last sperm whale to sign up to bring

Flowers to the Funeral.

They sing the praises of balance and curly hair like it's the oldest hymn in the Bible.They talk about tomorrow like tomorrow is the mid-90's. It's compressing, rerealistic, and unbustable.

Looking for more?

You Got Unschooled!

I talk a lot in interviews. Whoa, that has the potential for misconstruation. Misconstruction. Missed-mentstruation. Misunderstatement. Let me elucidate.

I talk a lot in interviews… about my approach to learning and where it came from; my thin-slicing, shortcut lifestyle. Besides that, I really don’t talk much. I let my smile drift forward, and let my headshots do the talking.
“Dad. Stop. Just tell me how the $#!+ to spell ‘sugar.’” 
That was me, frustrated, typing up a report on my 3rd grade homeschool field trip to the Pepsi Bottling Co. I wanted to convey the importance of sugar in the soda-making process, but I couldn’t for the life of me spell the damn word, and my Dad is one of those “sound it out” types. Sure, grrr. The computer screen mocked me with DOSsy blue blinks. Who was going to read the report? Actually, that part was a bit unclear to me. Why was I writing it? That I could answer. I was writing because I loved everything about Dr. Pepper (and by extension, Pepsi), I was homeschooled, and I had nothing better to do.

Unschool Lesson #47: Power Stances

The Huff n’ Puff Post recently posted an article about Unschooling, which is the practice of allowing students to explore and learn based on their interests and not on a specified curriculum. Damn, talk about hitting the nail in the face with a hammerhead; suddenly I am retroactively an advocate and graduate of the unschooled lifestyle. I didn’t adhere to a lesson plan. Instead, I was released on a daily basis into the Colorado wilderness to “not die.” I also bathed standing up and showered lying down, but that is a tale for another day.

At the brawny age of 9 I was directing my 4-year-old brother to hack down cacti with a machete while I brought a pot of water to boil over a campfire. I was attempting to make peyote, something I’d read about in some piece of Western fiction or a drug-abuse pamphlet (same thing!). Once in a week or two, when I wasn’t reading or Unschooling my brother (or being schooled by my sister in anything that required athleticism), I was asked to complete a math assignment or something equally lugubrious. I would immediately fish out the Teacher’s edition of my math workbook and fill in the answers. Then, I would reverse engineer the problem from answer to question. After about fifteen minutes, I would be all learnt up, and I was ready to rush out into the yard to play lawn darts with the cat.

In the Unschooling article, they mention a kid named Xander who, along with some buddies, recently “spent a couple of months with a blacksmith to learn how to forge their own swords.” Stick that into your sheath and poke it. This little guy knows how to forge steel using advanced metallurgy techniques while his “schooled” counterparts are learning something pointless, like cursive. C’mon, if Latin is dead, then cursive is coughing up blood on its voluptuous deathbed. Little Xander must’ve been candy-striping with his sword again. 

Et tu, Cursivus!

The article also offers a peek into the life of “perky teen” Zoe Bentley. They never really get into what makes her perky, but one can imagine that one would encounter many perky things in a life so untethered.  Zoe is in hot pursuit of an expertise in Exogeology, the study of the geology of other planets.

I can see why an increasing number of parents are embracing the idea of unschooling their children. Short swords and falling space rocks. One kid is blowing flaming hot pieces of mediveal knowledge onto 21st century steel while the other looks to the ground for crumbs from the sky to learn about the ground on another planet. As you can see, what you learn at unschool is nearly the opposite of learning karate on the playground (which is listed as #1 benefit of attending public school).

I owe much of what I am to the Unschooled lifestyle. Now I have a new term to drop on the police when they come around asking why I’m having so much cactus shipped to my house. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It's Time to Climb

The Smiley's Project is just plain extraordinary. That's right, ordinary was hanging out, minding it's own business, when extra booted down the door and said "We're getting married!"
"We got married!"

Janelle Smiley (then "Janelle Leeper") is a childhood friend from my days in Colorado. Though I haven't seen her since before I took my first driver's license photo, it looks as though she hasn't been sitting around knitting. (If you do knit, Janelle, feel free to correct me.) Her and her husband, Mark, committed in 2010 to "climbing all of the routes made famous by the iconic book, Fifty Classic Climbs of North America."

When I found their site, I was so impressed I completely undressed. I burned all of my clothes. I have committed to never wearing clothes that don't have The North Face branded all over them. North Face, if you see this... I'm getting cold and could use an extra long jacket to cover up a thing or two.
Embedded below is the Smiley's video recap of their climb in Alaska. It includes great music, breathtaking HD footage, hot helicopters, and an endearing message about the best way to take your vitamins at altitude.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Not for Prophets

In June, at the 1st annual Cisco Volunteer Fair, I had the privilege to help present Cisco's corporate approach to giving to a group of 20+ area non-profits. I then led a panel discussion with a group of my peers. We offered insight into how non-profits can engage and utilize the unique talents us Gen Y kids bring to the table (but sometimes hide under it).

"Hmm, I could use this to get a leg up on the competition..."

Today, I took advantage of an afternoon opportunity to help out at The Kramden Institute. Their organization had a memorable booth at the aforementioned volunteer fair, and I was intrigued by their mission. What do they do? They turn tossed computers into asphalt; paving a road for students in need to drive toward educational success.

My palamander Luke and I set up the event to cross-pollinate two of Cisco's resource groups: the Early in Career Network (Gen Y) and GBLT&A (Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, Transgender, Asexual) or (Gay, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado). We tackled broken monitors, a mouse nest, dusty keyboards, and crusty circuitry with a fervor only possible after 5 PM on a workday. We weren't afraid to ask the tough questions, like "Why are we cleaning these mice without giving them a little plug love and testing their metal a little?" I was amazed at the streamlined operation they have set up, and I did my best not to let my big mouth get in the way.

On the way out, I read a letter by a girl from Colorado who'd typed Kramden a letter, telling them about all the massive, impossible things she was going to accomplish with her new desktop. Here's hoping she moves mountains.

Yeah, I'm a mountain and I'm live-streaming right now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grind your Own Meat

It isn't uncommon for me to want some red meat once in a blue moon, but it is always rare. Whenever I can, I order as bloody as possible. In this day and age, if you know how to grind your own, you can get places. And I've been a place or two. At least one place, you can't take that away from me.


Ordering Meat
"Can I get medium-rare?"
I try not to order in declarative statements. Or unfinished basements. The waiter looks unimpressed, as if he's seen a half-eaten baby calf order deviled eggs from a silver-backed guerrilla. 
"Oh yes, you can order however you like. We grind our own."

Well said waiter - there is no counter-argument to that. When someone says 'We grind our own' you have nothing to worry about, right? Assuming they are keeping the incest out of the kitchen. And the can of balls well separated from the spices and raw ingredients. And they can ensure you the kooks haven't spit on - or shaken their tenderloins at - your soon-to-be meal.

Ordering Eggies
"How would you like your eggs?" The easy answer is over-hard. My friend Logan always tells me there are really only two options for how to order eggs: Fried or Fertilized. That said, I've never seen Logan unyolk and order anything but salad.

Watermelon, tomato, feta, unbridled passion.
Reading Between the Lines
Order whatever you want, wherever you are. They can always say no. You can nod and say "Yes, I would like that." If they say no again, grind your meat on the table.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hosting is Hard Work

Party planning can be hard, especially if you're a social parasite. If you would like to encourage a friend to take over planning for the next bash, be sure to send them this postcard. They'll get the message and you'll be praised for your snappy, scathing pun-liners.

Never Forget Who's Voted for You

I know you’ve heard this from me before and it's going to sound like I’m beating a dead rocking horse, but my life is devoid of materials. It isn’t that I don’t want the goods; to feel a whole person, I need a wide selection of footwear, designer sunglasses, moderately priced paperback novels, and microwave-safe bowls just as much as the next guy. Unfortunately, I have some hot daughters living in the backyard that have torn through and eaten everything I just listed… including the dead rocking horse.

The Bench-walking Wench
When the dogs aren't testing their jaws of life on inanimate and often poisonous products, they are flirting with visitors to the house. While the driveway acts as a revolving door to our hostel environment, our adopted sassholes act as pushy greeters, offering to carry guest’s bags in with their teeth. Of course, this all takes place after each dog has shoved a nose into any new groins in the room; a strict check-in process, not to be disturbed.

We don’t ask anything of visitors but to have a good time, but we do warn them that by the end of their stay here they must vote for their favorite pup. Inevitably, opinions become polarized and tempers flare - ours and the guests mostly, but sometimes the dogs. When I recently saw Mosey cast a disdainful glance at Kona after someone cast a  vote for Kona, I knew it was time to teach her a lesson. Thankfully, she took my words to mouth and I watched as she digested everything I said. In fact, the advice worked so well with Mosey that I’ve decided to take it and apply it to my own life. It’s very simple, as I told Mosey: Never Forget Who’s Voted for You.

Two commas, chillin' on the floor.

I think each of our relationships is an individual Trust spectrum with a ballot box at each end. The boxes slide from Bust to Trust and multiple votes are allowed over a lifetime of interaction. It is important to pause often and check the boxes; I’d like to stay updated on who’s voted/voting for me and thank them for doing so.
I’m not going to thank those that elected me “Prom Prince: Wesley King." Votes for me weren’t cast at some grand event, they happen more often and in much smaller doses than that.

"Don't make me Power Tie you to the chair."
My preschool teacher decided against punishing me for being a “smart-alec” and gave me a kitten instead. A girlfriend’s Grandma and her Grandma’s friends gave me some money for “college expenses” because someday, they said, I was going to do great things. I barely knew them! A redneck gifted me a dollar to fill my flat tire... I gave him all the credit I could even as my credit cards were worthless in that situation. Here, you can borrow my car. Here, you can sleep on my couch. Here, you can stay here, right here, with me! Here, I don’t really know you but you can meet my circle of friends… I’d rather you do that than continue to stand in the corner by the umbrella stand, wading for rain.

I’m sorry to say that each of the above votes of confidence were based on a bad assessment. I’m not untrustworthy, but most of my decisions are path-of-least-resistance and you would get a better return tossing liquid assets into a waterfall. Yet people continue to trust me, and someday, inevitably, someone will do the same for you. I know, I agree, they are entirely too trusting! But whether the trust is small (they trust you with their time, their smile, their secrets) or large (horse-sitting, model train-set, experimental brain surgery), remember to thank them, or, at least, acknowledge their actions.

I’ve discovered the real world isn’t a vacuum, so I’m trying to suck less. Help me out… remind me of a time you trusted me so I can make fun of you for it. Just please don’t tell me which pup you like more; I’d rather you whisper it in their ears when you visit. Trust me, they won’t forget.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

AARP: The American Association of Resplendent Penguins

My cousin has been getting flooded with AARP mail. Without fail, every time the mailbox is opened there is another bullet-point riddled printout unabashedly spackled with pictures of Jerry Geriatric. Jerry is usually using his feeble cane-graspers to massage an older woman who he is probably dating because she puts out… the trash every Thursday night, which he somehow always forgets to do. The mail is by far the most entertaining communication we receive as a household; all else consists of bills and birthday cards from our insurance agents.

Smile! The camera adds ten years.
AARP is an acronym for Appropriate Age to Rest in Peace. While this doesn't mean you must necessarily find the nearest bucket and kick it, it does mean that you and whoever you spend your time with should break out that bucket list and ravish it from top to bottom. Some couples have a concerted art attack; the two biggest draws on their bank accounts become museum tickets and postcards from museum gift shops. Others choose to find peace by swapping overmedicaiding for oversharing and overmedicaring. Some get angry at their inability to express their thoughts; life becomes effing ineffable.

Back to the mysteries of the mailbox. At first, it seems odd that anyone in our household should be getting AARP mail. Our average age is 23.52. However, when you take into account my cousin’s maturity level, the picture begins to clarify; he is wise beyond his years. When you witness the things he can do with an eagle-handle cane with exotic inlaid hardwood, it becomes even more evident that he is the definition of what the AARP hopes to be. Finally, when you find out that he recently added himself as my Grandpa on Facebook, you understand completely. It proves that what happens off of Facebook didn’t happen, and what happens on Facebook is the most vital of the USDA’s recommended daily intake categories for social meat eaters.

Age is so circularly peculiar. What once was the most arresting void – the three years between 18 and 21 – is now simply one collection of memories on the line drive that is life. As birth and death act as baselines, pastimes lose their significance and we begin to find appeal in the sexy wild pitches the future is sure to toss at us.

Bring on the wild pitches, bitches. My name is Wesley King, my cousin is my grandpa, and I collect AARP mail for motivation. Viagra is my favorite salad topping.  

White t-shirts: recently patented by young AARPers.