Irks and Perks

We all have ’em. Things that just make us cringe, ball our fists, and want to just go all medieval on someone’s tuchus. On the other hand, there are also those things that make sonofmanyinyang-240you happy that… well, just make you happy. Here are a few of my irks and perks. Keep in mind, this is far from a comprehensive list, just a sampling. (Don’t be surprised if you see more samplings in the future.)

IRK: DTV Crawl

I was so looking forward to the DTV transition because of over a year I’ve had to endure that idiotic crawl over some of my favorite shows that tells me that the conversion will be on February 17, 2009, and the converter box, and blah blah blah. Except the big kahuna in the White House wants it to be in June. Aw..c’mon. Four more months of this? Nuts!

PERK: Classical Music

Seriously. Wolfgang Amadeus, Sebastian, Ludwig, and scores of others wrote some pretty cool stuff. Whenever life is beating me down, I pop in a DVD or tune in to the classical radio station and just let this aural poetry ease away the vicissitudes of getting through.

IRK: Mis-sync’d Audio

Different people have different perceptual things that really tick them off. My brother is an audiophile and will strain his hearing to find every quirk of a piece of music. Me…if anything sets my blood-a-boiling it’s when audio and video don’t sync up. If it’s off by more than a few milliseconds, it just gnaws at me. One of our local stations is particularly bad at this. I think the worst recent national example was with Lifetime’s movie, The Good Witch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a version that wasn’t badly sync’d. I had to copy it to my computer and delay the audio by 36 ms (a little more than one frame of video) for it to even be close. Thing is, it’s not consistent through the movie, so I had to accept the least objectionable average.

PERK: Papa Murphy’s Pizza

I really can’t say enough about the pizzas that come from this chain. Sure, you have to bake ’em up yourself, but that is such a convenience. It allows you the chance, before it’s cooked, to tweak the pie. My mom, for example, doesn’t want a lot of cheese, so we just shift the cheese over from the one slice she’s planning to eat. Or we can add some extra quirky ingredients that aren’t even at the shop. Nothing but thumbs up.

IRK: Fashionistas

My family loves watching the fashion and model “reality” contests. I vehemently do not. Too much drama for something that is both trivial and all too important. And these are people who have something at stake. All the grousing about what a celebutant is wearing (or not wearing) is asinine is not only non-productive but so arbitrary that it serves only to promote the ego of the grouser.

The thing is, all of this eventually affects the lives of ordinary people. I can’t tell you how many woman have complained in recent years about the inability to find pants that just fit: not whale-tail showing hip-riders or the oft-derided mom-jeans. Who’s to blame? Those to whom the trivialities of style are everything, and who tend to stock for the extreme instead of the masses.

PERK: Pretty Natural Women

Hey, what can I say? I’m human. I like to see aesthetically pleasing members of my species that atessnomup-180re of a particular gender. I also like to see them, mostly, as they are. While I’m not stridently anti-boob-job, I’m not a big lover of the look. And make-up? A judicious hand is great. I took a quick snap of one of my DLTs, and she was embarrassed because she wasn’t wearing any makeup. I think, if anything, she looked even better than always (then again, I’m biased).

And let me add that I do totally agree that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. My tastes are both conventional and otherwise. To me, pretty isn’t just flawlessness and symmetry, it’s also a “there-ness” that some women have who aren’t conventionally attractive to most. A woman I knew, skin pock-marked from acne, and teeth badly mis-aligned, has been one of the most beautiful people I’ve known…and this from moments after I met her and before I got to know her well. Sometimes it just shines.

IRK: Political Poopy-Heads

The dogmatists who knee-jerk pro and con every issue just make me want to slap them up-side the head. Even when I agree with their stand, if they are doing it just because of party or other dubious agenda, then I cannot respect that.

But it’s not just the politicians. The talk-radio set (and those that drink in every word) are no less exasperating. It’s easy to toss out trigger words that appeal to a certain demo, but that isn’t really debate. Debate requires a balance of information without circus-like editorializing.

PERK: The Human Palette

I’ve mentioned this a blog years ago. In Albuquerque, when I moved here in 1990, if you saw more than four black people a month anywhere in town other than the UNM campus, it was nearly miraculous. Since hurricane Katrina, the complexion of the town has changed and is still changing. African-American faces now populate the landscape. Since I spent my formative years in the D.C. area, this demographic change has been very welcome to me. This little city is feeling more like home.

IRK: Princess Drivers

Oh, you know who they are. They are most easily seen in parking lots. These female type people (I’m not elevating them by calling them “ladies”) drive around the lot completely oblivious to the goings on around them. The just drive around looking for their precious parking space all the while ignoring the jump-backing pedestrians they almost hit or the brake-slamming drivers they just cut in front of. No, their world is contained only around the self-important bubble they call “me”.

PERK: My Backyard Oasis

Though it takes work to maintain, I don’t know what I’d do without my little island of tranquility. From early spring to mid-fall, the yard is home to a broad leafing tree, (mostly) green grass, a colorful flower garden, and a large variety of birds. It’s not uncommon to find me sitting out there, in the middle of summer, just watching the avian politics that goes on. (I need to mention a small irk: the pigeons (my mom says “doves”)…I just can’t stand those damn pigeons.)

IRK: Light Pollution

No, this isn’t the same as regular pollution, just with fewer calories; what I’m talking about is the cacophony of light that every city emits into the sky, brightening it to the degree that the stars become all but invisible at night.

I remember, as a boy in my hometown, being able to look up and see not only stars, but at just the right time, the Milky Way. Now? I can see the moon. On a clear night I can see Mars, Venus, and Jupiter. In winter I can sometimes make out the constellation Orion. And that’s about it. Oh sure, every now and again a really bright star will manage to shine through the photonic din, but not nearly as often as you’d expect. I miss seeing stars amid a black backdrop.

PERK: Women’s Basketball

If I’m going to make a list with things that make me happy, I have to include women’s basketball (esp. the University of Maryland Women’s Basketball). I know me droning on about it may be irksome to some readers, but these women lighten my heart. (And I’ll be nice, I’ll stop the gushing here.)

IRK: Pollen

Seriously… plants, come up with another way to have sex, please. Your public indiscretions make my nose and eyes miserable from February through September. What’s worse, the result means that my sense of smell is so reduced I can’t taste thing at all well during that time.

Get together with some bats and bees, will ya?

PERK: Healthy Toes

brokenpinkytoe-140Yeah, I know that seems weird, but my toes have taken a lot of abuse over the years. I count no fewer than eight breaks (likely more) as my penchant for walking barefoot leads to tragic consequences as gravity, table legs, and the mis-placed heavy objects conspire to wreak damage on my poor phalanges. So, when nothing is broken or sprained, and all of my toenails have finally grown back out so as to look normal, I’m very happy.


And I think that’s enough for now. As I said, my list of both items is lengthy. Some things we can mostly agree with, some will just have you labeling me a raving loon. Either is fine. I like it when y’all have your own opinions. I only hope that you are as welcoming of our differences as I try to be.

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