Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Color Me Puzzled

Eureka!  I believe I may have discovered yet another example of the dichotomy between males and females.  Without further preamble, who of you can correctly identify the following:  Sarsaparilla, Coast of Maine, Polaris, Thunderbolt, City Street?  How about Phoenix Fossil, Fragrant Cloves, Turning Oakleaf, Demeter, Pony Tail or Spiced Vinegar?  Well, try these then:  Neptune, Wavecrest, Bashful, Sorcerer or Planetarium?  Any clue?  If so, my infantile ‘research’ concludes that you are likely female, because few men would know these as just a miniscule sample of . . . paint colors.  Seriously.  Seriously?  I’m supposed to pick Pony Tail for the kitchen?  Now, I realize that this conclusion is based upon my own experience and has no scientific underpinning, but I don’t tout this as ‘news’, only as a revelatory opinion.

I learned—unfortunately--about the esoterica of paint colors when our home suffered a serious fire some years back.  While the kids and I resided in a rental house for some six months, the task of overseeing some reconstruction, new wood flooring, rugs and carpeting, full repainting and new furniture throughout—among other things, were left to me.  Of course, I had a general contractor, but with respect to decisions on the aforementioned, I was on an island.  A few well-meaning female friends advised me to hire a decorator.  I resisted.  I neither wanted nor desired that some stranger to our family come in and create a monument to herself, so I took it on.  In retrospect, perhaps my innate macho stubbornness was, well, just that.   Nevertheless, on I marched.  There was much to learn.

Feedback from the kids informed me that I’d done a creditable job with the wood floors and furniture.  Paint colors, however, were my Waterloo.  Not only was I devoid of experience, but I had to decide about not just walls and ceilings in multiple rooms, but the kids’ bedrooms were included as well.  Oh no, it couldn’t be simple.  Should the walls below the chair rails be the same as those above or perhaps a bit darker?  Should the rails be flat or glossy?  How about the ceilings?  All white?  Well, which of the 83 shades of white?  Who knew?  Why did we even have chair rails in the first place?  Some rooms had no chairs.  When I first began this trek, I traveled to a nearby paint store—where I would become a regular--and chatted with one of the woman working there.  She started pulling books and chits with names such as Sheer Romance and Spring Morning.  I could not decipher any of it.  Frankly, it was overwhelming.  How could this be so unnerving?  What happened to the days of four primary colors and their immediate derivatives?  I ended up with 37 colors in our house if memory serves.

Interestingly (at least to me), I think I may have come upon a possible solution to this conundrum as to how we have arrived at the place where selecting paint colors should be part of a college curriculum, perhaps even a graduate program.  Somewhere on this fair Earth, though I know not the exact location, I imagine an enormous hall, much like the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. I suspect.  I visualize it filled with what I believe to be a cadre of talented, creative, well-meaning women, from across the political decorative spectrum shall we say.  First, this makes perfect sense to me as in general I believe woman are much smarter and more intuitive than are we simple men.  In any event, I think It must be there, in that cavernous hall, that the delegates debate and then, after much gnashing of teeth and banging of the gavel by the Speaker of the Hue, create the names I have set out above and—literally—thousands more.  That is ‘thousands’, such as Baby’s Breath, Magic Wand and Everlasting.  I find this astonishing.  I think the reps pass more color names than the U.S. Congress does laws and that’s saying something.  Even more shocking though, is that it is not solely the colors of paint that the Color Congress debates and then pass into the Color Spectrum Law.  There has to be more.  Must be.

I submit for your review and comment that it is not solely for the nomenclature of paint colors that Color Congress gathers for its annual sessions.  Think about it.  Have you ever cruised through Walgreens looking for some digestive help or otherwise and passed the nail polish section?  Well, I have many daughters and I can assure you that it’s more of the same when discussing colors, but enters into yet a higher realm.  I did fewer than five minutes of research and came up with a small sampling which includes the following:  Untamed, Romantique, My Private Jet, Incognito in Sausalito, You Don’t Know Jacques and, the winner, My Very First Knockwurst.  Now, are these names that men would develop?  I think not.  For paint we might let our creative juices flow and come up with Light Blue, Dark Green or, if we get really creative, ‘Tan’.  Nail polish?  How about ‘Don’t Waste Your Money’. 

Heck, even the 24 count Crayola Box has a ‘cerulean’ in it.  I had to look it up.  I have no idea what other things may be ‘blessed’ with such indecipherable names, but I do know that the aforementioned are additional evidence for my conclusion—reached long ago—that I’m so happy I was born a male, simple and blissfully ignorant of so much that occurs all around me.

Monday, July 10, 2017

A Man of Few Words

So, anyone who knows me understands that I am a person who would charitably be described as ‘garrulous’.  My defense is that my verbosity is not tuned necessarily to the mundane or trivial.  I am what my children describe as a ‘people collector’, which translates to the fact that I truly enjoy making new friends and acquaintances.  To do so generally requires one to have a conversation, doesn’t it?  Even in today’s world of electronic ‘talk’, how else does one come to know another?  I still enjoy the human contact, the reading of expressions, body language, twitches and the like.  It is part of my natural essence, my being, something that I cannot alter.  It is simply who I am and I embrace it. 

I welcome discussions on virtually any topic as well as telling the stories of a lifetime and hearing those of another.  I read and am enthralled by a multitude of subjects, though I am fluent in few.  Because of this the kids call me a ‘polymathic autodidact’.  Look it up.  I can be long-winded and loquacious, but enjoy the give and take of human interaction.  Talking is the way I connect with others.  Always it has been so.  Do I talk too much?  Arguably.  But it is who I am, what I do.  Apologies to anyone offended.

What strikes me about this personality trait is that it was passed on to a couple of our kids, but not to the degree it is in me.  The really puzzling thing about genetics is that virtually none of my chattiness was passed on to our son.  None, at least as I’ve been able to discern over his 26 years.  In his ‘defense’, he was the youngest of four and the sole boy in the brood.  Perhaps he never got the chance to put in his view with his three older sisters, but I don’t believe that was it.  He has simply been more to himself, taciturn, much like my youngest brother who was the ‘baby’ of six with a 14 year spread from beginning to end.

Then I think sometimes that perhaps our son is different when he is with friends and co-workers.  This must be true to some extent as he has many pals from his early years and college as well.   He has been regarded as a leader from his youngest days (yes, I’m boasting a bit), though a quiet one.  I’m unable to reconcile all of this each time the memory rears up of a telephone call at dinnertime when he was a junior in high school.  I had prepared a health, fresh dinner for the two of us, ready when he arrived home from basketball practice.  We sat at the table and I went through my daily attempt at finding out about his day.  I had already come to terms with the difference in communication from our daughters and him, but when the girls had all gone away to college and beyond, the silence was maddening at times.  For example, when I would ask how his day was, the answer was “Fine”.  That’s it.  Always.  When I attempted a deeper dive such as, “So, anything unusual in your classes today?”, invariably the reply would be, “Not really.”  No matter my efforts, those were the responses or variants thereof.

This particular night, however, lives forever in my head as it was illustrative of what I describe.  He had taken his plate to the sink to rinse and place in the dishwasher while I still wrestled with the remnants of the repast when the house telephone, mounted on the wall by the sink, burst through the silence.  He couldn’t ignore as he usually did, so he grabbed the receiver.  The following is what I heard, “Lo.  Yuh. K.  Bye.”  He hung up.  It couldn’t have been ten seconds, no chance.   I turned and asked him, “What was that?”  He responded, “What?” to which I retorted, “That call.  What was that?  It wasn’t a conversation.  Four grunts.  What did you accomplish with four grunts?”  He innocently described his call with his friend David and went on to portray some complicated plans with his pals for the upcoming Friday evening.  I was incredulous, mouth hanging open.  I challenged him as to how he could have done all of that with four grunts.  He just laughed and went up to do his homework.  Quietly.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Driving in the Left Lane

Have you ever asked a family member, friend or acquaintance about his or her driving abilities?  More to the point, has anyone ever responded in the negative?  I can't recall a single soul ever admitting that his driving abilities were sub-par.  Nevertheless, isn't it axiomatic that half of the drivers are below average?  For that matter, I may be one of them.  No, that couldn't be.  Could it?

Each driver holding a valid license has passed a driver's test (lo those many years ago for me), so we share the view that there is an underlying knowledge of the traffic laws, but then there are the unwritten rules of the road.   Do we on occasion roll through a Stop sign or dial in cruise control at five miles per hour above the posted limit?  Of course we do, which in its purest sense makes us scofflaws, though I make no admissions here against my own interests.  How then can we/I reconcile these shortcomings with those I am about to excoriate?  Hypocrisy?  I’d hate that for certain, but take a look and you be the judge and jury (and executioner if necessary).  Strap on your seatbelts.  Please.

The thing is, I have spent more hours than I can recall in the past decades driving from the Denver International Airport west to the majestic Rockies and the ski mountains nestled therein.  Regrettably I also have to make the return trip.  The drive generally ranges from an hour and a half to two hours, give or take, but I’ve done a fiver as well.  The Rocky Mountains are my happy place and have been so since I was a child.  However, getting from point A to point B and back is not at all smiles, all the time.  Why, you might ask?  Well, the answer is a simple one, i.e. some drivers in Colorado.  Notice that I don't impugn all resident Coloradans, only some drivers on Interstate 70.  It's a fine point.  More to follow.

Quite often I make the trek up to the mountains solo, meaning I have time to kill and the balls inside my head just bounce around.  In any event, during these frequent migrations I have concluded that a large percentage of drivers in fact do not understand the aforementioned rules of the road, encoded or otherwise.  Whether resulting from arrogance or ignorance, drivers constantly park themselves in the left lane of I-70 and absolutely refuse to pull to the right to allow passage of faster vehicles.  They do so irrespective of the length of a line of vehicles behind them.  They do so in white-out blizzards and when the sun shines brightly on dry pavement.  They do so in the light of day, at dusk as well as in the dark of night.  Nothing will dissuade them from their appointed mission.  Not a flick of the bright lights, a toot of the horn or a bit of gentle tailgating will cause them to take the hint.

 How about reading the Colorado statute which dictates:  “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle in the passing lane of a highway if the speed limit is sixty-five miles per hour or more unless such person is passing other motor vehicles that are in a non-passing lane or turning left, or unless the volume of traffic does not permit the motor vehicle to safely merge into a non-passing lane.”  IT’S THE LAW. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s only when the limit is at least 65 mph, but should the logic disappear if the limit it only 60 or 55?   It's as puzzling as it is maddening and I suspect enforcement is next to nil.  

The worst offenders?  In my unscientific poll, those who are runners-up to the most frequent Riders in the Left Lane Under the Posted Speed Limit are those driving (a) pickup trucks; (b) the estimable Toyota Prius, or; (c) those who come from warmer climes to ski and somehow believe that a nice rear-wheel drive sedan is just the ticket for winter mountain driving.  The winner and grand champion, however, is that ideal of the Colorado driver:  The one behind the wheel of--wait for it, wait—the Subaru.  And they are everywhere.

It appears that the glut of new residents who have migrated to Colorado over the past decade from hither and yon have all concluded that owning a four-wheel-drive Subaru is tantamount to being indestructible, with the ability to negotiate any amount of snow despite being four inches off the ground.  They seem to believe they can take their Subarus and leap tall buildings with a single bound.  But don't let’s forget about the moral superiority evidenced by this behavior as well.  Am I wrong?  Make no mistake, however, about my view of the Subaru vehicle in general.  All the way back in 1986, prior to the child explosion in our family, we owned a Subaru something or other wagon.  It wasn't my idea, but I had nothing against the car or the manufacturer.  In fact, while I never drove the wagon on a regular basis as it was the ‘first baby’ limo, I recall it being a nice ride overall.  That was then.  The same holds true today if I correctly read the reviews.  

However (and there is always a ‘however’ in life), the Colorado Subaru drivers on I-70?  Yeah, not so much.  The give the cars a bad name.  My universe of testing embodies those who travel that inestimable route from Denver to Vail and beyond.  This narrow sampling, however, leads to inescapable conclusions, i.e. that for reasons I cannot yet clinically determine (though I am working on an algorithm), Subaru drivers love the left lane of multi-lane highways in Colorado.  Why you ask? Not a clue.  I cannot fathom the reason other than what I have set out herein. 

So, my plea to those drivers I have impugned, following are a few suggestions to ponder:  (a)  read the Colorado law, and/or; (b) get past the moral superiority of determining the proper speed limit for the rest of us, and; (c) lose any other justifications for your left lane-leaning tendencies, and finally; (d)  move the hell over.  Please.  Before my head explodes.