"Holy crap, you're fancy," said Lynn as we drove through Spokane in my 2010 Prius. She was gesturing to the antiquated GPS display in the dashboard. "Do you use it? Let's use it!"

When we arrived at the Picnic Pines diner-dump, I stopped to take a selfie with the restaurant in the background. This was for Mariko, with whom I'd frequented the diner-dump while in grad school.

Immediately, a burly employee burst out of the kitchen. "What are you doing?" he demanded.

"Um. Taking a picture?" I was confused. I knew from the food and hygiene that this was not an Amish restaurant.

"Of the bathroom?!"

"Huh? No, of...myself....oh." I looked in front of me. There was the bathroom. An outbuilding, naturally. "This is a backward-facing camera," I explained.

"Oh," he said, relieved for some reason. "We...we don't have fancy phones around here."

now i ain't saying she a golddigger

The Atlantic proclaimed a couple months back that the whole "men with money/beautiful women" trope is a myth. I snorted then. I snort louder now.

Back when "I work at Microsoft" meant what "I work at Google" does now, I hired a guy into Microsoft. He was a decent, bright, average-looking guy. And so I initiated The Talk. I imparted some hard-learned wisdom.

"You will soon find yourself attracting really beautiful women," I said. He laughed and scoffed. Surely, I was mistaken. "No, I'm being totally serious. The heavens will rain hotties upon you, and they will make you feel like the manliest man in the history of men. Here's a good rule of thumb: if she wouldn't have dated you in high school, keep your PIN to yourself now."

"Okay, sure," he said, right before he torqued himself himself into love with an imbecilic, perpetually bespandexed trollop 15 years his junior.

All these years later in my Pittsburgh loft, I live with the people he and I were then. They're young tech guys. It's not a coincidence that I live here; I want to network with them. They have jobs exactly where I would like to work someday. But this place is expensive. Really expensive. My furnished 1 bedroom flat costs 184% of the mortgage on my waterfront house in Metamuville. I'm not delighted by that, but that's the cost of networking.

More to the point, by definition, everyone here has money.

People with office jobs leave during the day, of course, leaving behind their partners. It is decidedly not an aesthetic cross-section of humanity. It's a modeling academy. I've never seen anything like it. Even college campuses have their share of not-ridiculously-smoking women. But not here. They're insanely hot.

I wonder what it could be, Atlantic? The water?

white privilege

We were somewhere in North Dakota when our paths crossed.

Him: middle-aged black father leaning against a mini-van, impatiently waiting for his wife and kids to finish peeing at a rest stop.

Me: well, I was me. A white slob pulling his Prius into the next space, listening to NWA and smoking a cigar, wearing the same black gym shorts and t-shirt I'd put on in Seattle. When I opened the door, my car belched smoke and probably dog funk, and a Diet Coke can fell to the ground.

He stared at me quizzically. He didn't say it, but I heard it resoundingly nonetheless: "Seriously?"

• • •

That morning, I'd left Missoula at 4am. I was scarcely out of my motel's parking lot and driving the deserted streets when another car raced on top of me. He tailgated me dangerously, blinding me his high beams, for two miles on a multi-lane road. I slowed down to 10 mph below the speed limit, hoping the psychopath would pass, but he would not. When I finally got on the freeway, he did not, and I saw that it was a cop. What King Shit with a Badge's game was, I can only guess, but his aggression was inexcusable. "Asshole," I thought as I drove down the freeway.

Soon I was thinking about what a privilege it is to know he's an asshole. Were I a minority, I'd have to sort through all manner of chaff on my radar. Sure I would allow that he might merely be an asshole, but I would never know for sure. This, I thought, is perhaps my favorite white privilege: knowing with confidence that this cop is a dickwipe.

As I entered Minnesota, I was passed by another black dude. He was driving 90 in an Escalade. Now impervious to speeding tickets, I swooped in behind him, setting my cruise control to 90.

in case you missed it

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green and brown bidet

photo.JPG"Good god. Why is he posting a photo of his toilet?" the reader might fairly ask.

My loft's toilet has come to dominate my life, although I didn't know it at first. I was initially preoccupied with the mildewy funk emanating from my bathroom. No problem. A quick scouring with bleach later, and I got its hygiene up to 19th century battlefield standards. And an hour later, I scoured it again. And showered again.

This is one of those low-flow toilets that saves water by requiring that you flush it several times on every use. I can only assume it was invented by the same eco-terrorist airheads who brought us "green" electric vehicles. How feeble is it? Yesterday I overflowed it by blowing my nose three times and throwing the wads of toilet paper in its bowl.

Although that is a perfect measure of its dysfunction, it was, quite tragically, not the first.

Easily blocked toilets are nothing new, but that teardrop-shaped channel is. New and bloody evil. Imagine taking a plunger to that. Imagine the force you apply, and imagine where the pressurized toxic water is being aimed.

The hippie grocery store across the street doesn't sell bleach, only gentle cleansers, so I had to hop in my car to buy the disinfectant necessitated by my hippie green toilet.

Slow clap.

the new boobs of feminism

I'll always remember where I was when I heard the Challenger exploded, and I'll always remember that I was in a Minneapolis hotel room when the Internet exploded.

"How on Earth did some creep find nude photos of all these actresses?" I thought. "Oh. Did they seriously upload them to the Internet? Seriously?!"

That was the sum of my thinking. Whoever hacked these women was a creep, a criminal, a despicable piece of shit. And his unwitting accomplishes were imbeciles for needlessly granting 6 billion probable creepy criminals unlimited free attempts at ruining their lives.

And then I learned that I was wrong. And stupid. And a misogenist.

My twitter feed clogged with people hammering home some sort of perverse pseudo-feminist point, conflating the right to upload nude selfies with the right to walk through a park unraped. Such analogies seem, to me, counterproductive. Here's another.

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Yes, a perfect analogy...if I covered my cash in honey and had Bernie Madoff manage it at Lincoln Savings & Loan. That's my ethical expectation of the Internet and all its denizens. What's yours?

In this feminist discussion, it is unhelpful to claim that the need to bank is analogous to the need for actors to upload crotch shots. Mind you, this statement is from a technology writer. One might think that she would use this as a teaching moment. ("Attention, impaired! Don't store anything sensitive on the Internet! And don't turn on cloud syncing of photos! If you have, here's how to turn it off.") Alas. That doesn't feel as good.

The guy who invaded these folks' privacy is scum, and I hope he's found and prosecuted. The people who rushed to see the pictures are also scum, frighteningly entitled scum. I am not among them. I don't want to see the pictures. It's morally wrong. And it's creepy.

But let's stop conflating using a bank with a famous person storing photos of their genitals on the Internet. One is necessary. The other is needless and obviously, vomitously stupid.

I, for one, will never see Jennifer Lawrence the same way again. I feel horrible for what she's going through, but I also feel disappointed in her. Not because she took naked selfies. Not because they became public. Because she isn't nearly as bright as I thought she was. Perhaps her idiocy will serve as a helpful cautionary tale for us all, but it won't if we move rhetorical mountains to deny the idiocy and flail at points that aren't there.

• • •

Postscript: Kate Upton, I see exactly the same way.

the week in review

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i am haunted by waters

The Missoula of my imagination, before tonight:

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The Missoula of my imagination, after tonight:

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the negotiation

Lynn has long wanted me to perform the eulogy at her funeral. It comes up in our every conversation.

"So do you have any ideas for my eulogy?" she asked, stabbing at her chow mein.

"Mmmph," I replied.

"All I ask, John, is this: no profanity."

I swallowed my food. "None?"

"Not in the church I grew up in, no!"

I thought about this. "What about hell?"

"Now how is that word going to come up in my eulogy?"

I thought some more. "Well then what about Jesus Christ?"

"It depends on the context."

I chuckled. "Ya know, this is a good eulogy right here. Recalling this conversation."

She eyed me warily as she mentally went down her list of other potential eulogists. "JUST SAY SOMETHING NICE FOR SIXTY GODDAMNED SECONDS AND SIT DOWN!"

housesitter

One would think that arranging a long-term housesitter would afford some peace of mind. But I find the opposite true.

Step One: make the liquor closet impenetrably secure.
When you find yourself moving hinges to the inside of a closet door, you ask yourself, "Do I maybe have some trust issues with my friends?"

Step Two: liberalize your definition of "liquor"
I'm compromising the integrity of that door, what with all the knives, pans, photos etc. that I don't want ruined that I'm cramming into that closet.

stat of the day

11% of the search hits on this site come from Bing. Of those, 94% originated within 20 miles of Microsoft's corporate campus.

They know something you don't, you know. You just don't understand.

compost

Remember that time your neighbor left a pile of dungeness crab corpses to rot in their back yard, and a week later when they were good and ripe, your EX-dogs found them and rolled in them gleefully, all of which you deconstructed after the ecstatic dogs fouled your entire house with the stench of diapers found on a New Jersey beach?

No? It's just me?

deserve's got everything to do with it

Over lunch, I was telling Elizabeth the Anna story, and about how, last week, Anna bizarrely sent me a photo of herself filling out her divorce paperwork.

"Huh? Why?" Elizabeth asked, much like I did.

"My theory is that she thinks this is why I won't go out with her. Because she's still married."

Elizabeth could barely restrain her amusement at the thought of my possessing this particular ethic. Her mouth disappeared as she sucked in her lips to suppress a guffaw.

chorus

"That's not a costume, John. Those are what people call normal clothes." —Katrina

"You dress like you took the clothes off a hobo's corpse." —d'Andre

• • •

I accidentally grabbed a long-sleeved, synthetic black shirt when I shot out the door on my way to Spokane. This was significant in that 1) I was taking Lynn to a dinner and a show and 2) it was 104 degrees there.

And so, for the first time since maybe the 90s, I walked into Nordstrom to buy a dress shirt. And then I drew a blank and came to a stop.

I could not remember the name "men's department."

• • •

I also took Elizabeth out to lunch while there. I arrived first. When she arrived, I watched her look right past me. Granted, it's been five or six years, but still. So I called her name, and we hugged, and she pointed to my khakis and dress shirt and said "I totally didn't recognize you in that."

resistible link of the week

"Elderly sex slaves want solace"

I spent this week in Spokane, visiting friends and cranking my hotel room's air conditioner so that I could comfortably take baths in the 100 degree heat. Oh, and I paid $40 to to overnight five pink cookies to grad school pal Mariko. I never said I'm not an eco-terrorist.

I love Spokane. It'll always be home to me. Another grad school friend described it best thusly: "Spokane is a backward 1950s retro town that doesn't know it's retro." It wasn't meant as a compliment so much as an indictment of when the place was last cleaned.

It's more modern now, and even I, who shake my fist angrily at pretty much all change, have to admit that it's for the best. One demographic, however, holds firm.

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rocky iii

Rocky III may be a spectacular piece of crap, but man, is it ever a great movie ever to work out to. Especially if you fast-forward past the "character" "development" scenes straight to one of the three (!) training montages.

During the obligatory Adrian Puts Rocky's Head Right scene on the beach, I began to wonder what, exactly, is the most embarrassing thing in this movie. Is it the homoerotic overtones of the Apollo/Rocky training scenes, complete with slo-mo groin closeups and bro-hug amidst crashing surf? A worthy candidate, but no. Is it the horrific racial stereotyping, from Apollo's slum roots to perhaps the single greatest living embodiment of every horrific racial stereotype, Mr. T? Yeah, that part makes me cringe, but it doesn't make me cringe the most.

No, that honor is reserved for Carl Weathers. This former professional football player had to pretend to lose a footrace to Sylvester Stallone. Stallone, who, while running in these scenes, could not possibly look more like a corpse that's undergoing stroke aftershocks. Weathers' performance here is perhaps the single greatest job of acting this side of Jennifer Aniston pretending to be attracted to David Schwimmer.

dear hotel owners

How much money do you save by using those flimsy, sheer shower curtains that cling to one's naked body like cold, clammy flypaper? I'd like to begin a Kickstarter for you.

burghese

"I already know what I love about being in Pittsburgh," I explain to people who didn't really ask. "Now I'm going to find out what I hate."

What's the opposite of "riveted?" Unriveted?

I already know the answer, of course. Driving in Pittsburgh makes prison rape look like The Notebook. I didn't actually make it farther than 10 minutes into the Notebook, but given the reverence 20-something women have for that movie, I'm supposing that it's a big, gooey, estrogen-besot, romantic mess.

Though not as big as Boston, Pittsburgh's even harder to navigate. Dead-ends, one-way streets, foothills and rivers cutting you off constantly, and nary a right angle to be found.

Worst of all, the town is GPS-proof. Google Maps, TomTom, Navigon, Apple Maps—all get hopelessly confused. "U-turn! U-turn! U-turn!" they scream as I'm trapped between two concrete barriers. While I was unleashing a withering blast of profanity on my last trip, the Google Maps chick was singing harmony. At any moment, I expected her to shred the little speaker with "THE FUCK IS WITH THIS FUCKING TOWN?!"

There's a redneck quotient in Pittsburgh that I expect to find less than charming. I hear them call into local radio shows, quite possibly already drunk at noon, to twang that some white guy no longer on the team will have a breakout year for the "Stillers."

Which brings us to the Pittsburgh dialect. I find it charming from afar, but the Stillers playing dawn-tawn even doe dey practiss on de souseside uh tawn? Nah, that won't get old.

When I pronounced the nearby town of "DuBois" as doo-bwah, I was corrected. It's doo-BOYZ, don't you know. And when I ordered gnocchi in a bar, everyone laughed. Silly boy, do you mean ga-NOTCH-ie?

Coming from Ahia by way of Wooshington, I will be a stranger in a strange land. I shall make a list of these things for your consumption.

unintentionally funny headline of the day

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In full makeup, evening gown, and heels, feeding her infant in front of fashion photographers in a diner. Just like our cave-dwelling ancestors did.

Allow me to translate her quote: "Look, everyone, I have boobs now. Discuss!"

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metamuville nooners

I complain a lot about the lack of places to eat here in the boondocks, so allow me to share the other side of that coin.

This is my DMV at noon.

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This is my Costco at noon Saturday.

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But the restaurants do suck. At all times.

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if you ain't white, you ain't quite right

My company occasionally has to fill out a diversity form. In the name of color-blindness, we vendors, never once seen by our employer, must declare what color we are.

I get it. The law is well-meaning. But isn't there a less condescending way of getting this information?

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drive-by momming

I ventured into the outside world yesterday, always a mistake.

Madam's parents are staying in the house next door this month, which typically means only one thing to me: no whizzing off the deck. But late last night, they drunkenly waved me over. For some reason, I accepted.

This is what I remember of our conversation.

Blah blah Microsoft

"What did you think when you found out it was two women moving in next door?" Mom asked, for some reason amused by her question.

Blah blah boats

"I always feel bad for you. The girls don't take very good care of the house," Mom said.

Blah blah Percy

"Percy took really good care of the place. You must miss that," Mom baited.

Blah blah big government

"I love Madam and Eve, but they sure are weird, you know?" Mom said, shaking her head with concern while she waited for me to give the slightest response that she could later quote.

Blah blah their daughter's partner

"Well, she's Chinese. They're a humorless people, don't you think?"

You get the idea. Mom spent the entire evening shaking me by my ankles, hoping that a weapon she could use would fall out.
And...time....just...flew....by.

"How often do you see your family, John?" Mom asked at one point.

I shrugged and stared at Puget Sound. "I don't much see the point."

reader mail: left turns

I never know what's going to set you people off, but it turns out you have a lot of thoughts (not to mention barely restrained rage) about left-turn arrows. You are among friends here.

My favorite nugget came from recently uncloseted Stank troll C.J., who informed me about the Pittsburgh Left:

You turn left in front of them before they have a chance to react to their green light
I'll admit that I only do that when the doofus coming the other way is looking at his phone. I need to step up my game.

green arrow

On the West coast, drivers are seemingly incapable of turning left without the aid of a green arrow. I'm not sure what's cause and what's effect, but not coincidentally, almost every traffic light has a green arrow cycle, 24 hours a day. If there isn't a green arrow, you will never, ever see the driver in front of you ease into the intersection on yellow and squirt through. That is simply not in their repertoire here. And so you will sit behind them, trapped until the sun goes down and there are no oncoming cars.

It's crazy-making to idle at 2am, waiting for my turn as precisely zero vehicles go through the intersection. So I've increasingly started turning left on "red" when parallel traffic has a green light. It's perfectly safe. It's unnecessary in 47 other states. But from the reactions, you would think I aimed for an orphanage and floored the gas pedal.

33 days to Pittsburgh.

the sexiest thing i have ever seen

Now all I need is a defense to watch.

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class warriors

"How much did that cost?" asks seemingly every visitor. In response, I look down and shuffle my feet awkwardly as I resist the impulse to bitch-slap the rude out of them.

When I grew up in the Midwest, this was an impolite question, indicative of a complete absence of class. Either times have changed or my Seattle-based visitors are unbearably status-focused. You can guess which I believe.

No one ever asks how much a skillet or a lawnmower cost. It's always a traditionally statusy item. A car. A trip. A $500, unreturnable cookbook I ordered from Amazon in a delirious, pre-CPAP stupor at 4am. These people are worse than data-mining corporations.

"Would you like to just see my tax return?" I reply in my mind 10 hours later, when the initial numbness wears off and I think of the perfect response.

I'd say it, but I'm afraid they'd whip out reading glasses.

soon, my pets, soon

Flo is on her way to spend the day "working" at my house, so I'll surely have something to rant about soon.

Ah, there it is. She just texted me while driving, complaining about the slow drivers on Metamuville Rd. Anyway, while I collect bitchy anecdotes, here's something for you to chew on. I passed this sign the other day. And then I passed it again the next six days before it was changed. Sometimes, ya just wish you could hear the story.

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that old person smell

I bought a used Jeep from an elderly couple. Though 10 years old, it looks brand new, and it only has 40,000 miles on it. They pampered it. Nope, there just aren't many downsides to buying a car from an old couple.

The stereo settings when I took ownership:

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