Saturday, April 29, 2006

Pick Up! I Know You're Home...

Sorry for the delay, y’all. It’s been a busy few weeks, and blogging took a back seat to…well…life. Never fear! I am here. I would be lying, though, if I said I had some burning issue that brought be back to the keyboard. However, I have obtained some new readers of late, and they are crying for new material.

As our level of technology of our society increases, we obviously gain capability, but we also loose some little things along the way. You know what I’m going to miss? Answering machines as plot devices. Remember how a movie or a television show could tell you exactly what was going on by having the main protagonist (or even a support character) walk into their apartment after a long day and hit play on the answering machine? Recently former ex-lovers could leave a longing message begging for reconciliation. Meddling mothers could leave repeated messages asking why a son or daughter is still single. A police detective could save the last message his wife left for him before dying in a horrific car accident that very same night and could play it over and over as he ponders his loneliness. OK, that last one was a little much, but I DID see it in a movie. And who could forget the “tippy-toe” episode of Seinfeld!?

Yet, our beloved answering machine is on the way out. Really, when is the last time you saw one of these devices? It’s all about the voicemail now, and for good reason. Even the most advanced of these clunky machines wear out eventually, and why would anyone pay money for a machine to do something that your phone service will do for you cheaply and efficiently anyway? As a result, I haven’t seen an answering machine in a movie for years. Now writers have reverted to using the inefficient and tired old flashback to give us the back-story on our characters. I guess it’s true…you really can’t go home again.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Spring Showers...

It’s a night of nostalgia here in the Stroodler household. I’ve begun looking through old photographs, listening to a little Tears for Fears and Concrete Blonde, and suddenly I’m being sucked back in time to days gone past. I think it’s happening now because the month of April has historically been a period of momentous change for me, and having turned 30 this year, I’ve become little more reflective than I’ve been used to. I also can’t shake the feeling that something important is lurking on the horizon…that a change of some kind is in the cards. In any event, I wanted to share with my readers the magnitude of changes I go through during this month.

April 1978 – Ma and Pa Stroodler bring me and little baby sister Stroodler to the Cherry Blossom Festival in DC all the way from New Jersey. It was my first taste of my new adopted home city, and I was infected immediately...even though it would be another 27 years before I would actually be a resident. It was also momentous because I took a little unexpected “dip” in the Reflecting Pool after thinking I could balance-walk on the stones that line it.

April 1992 – I started my very first job at the Napoleon Public Library in Napoleon, Ohio. This was also the same month in which I returned to DC with my high school marching band to march in the Cherry Blossom festival. Are you sensing a geek theme? Go Wildcats!

April 1994 – I find myself on the grassy common grounds of the University of Cincinnati, studying with my best friends Dave, Donald, and Mitchel. I realize that for the first time in my life, I might actually fail out of a class (quantum physics).

April 1999 – I go on my first real date with a “boi”. Of course, at the time, I couldn’t bring myself to call it a date. It was “coffee.”

April 2004 – I get an offer for an interview for a new job in DC. I’ve wanted to relocate to DC permanently for a while, and now it’s finally within reach.

April 2005 – five months after moving to DC, I loose my beautiful apartment and most of my belongings in a fire. The loss is enormous and I am basically required to start my life over again. On the whole it can obviously be described as a negative experience, but in a way I feel a bit reborn, and when you can successfully emerge from something like that you feel invincible for a time.

So, I'm off to ponder these things and finish listening to "Mexican Moon". I say to to 2006...

Bring it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Good God, Y'all

My typical commute home from work is fairly enjoyable. I zoom down the GW Parkway at twice the speed limit (while being passed by others) admiring the beautiful view of the city and listening to the wide spectrum of music available to me on the XM radio after a long day of work. This afternoon was no different, and I sped home as usual in a not too shabby mood. I had accomplished a lot today, was looking forward to an evening with friends, and was generally happy. I was in the middle of a particularly moving rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” (I have a little trouble with the high notes), when all the sudden, bitch in a white Toyota Corolla (circa 1995) plows into my lane out of NOWHERE. I emphasize nowhere because this was a particularly light day of traffic, and there was no reason I could see to endanger, at a minimum, two lives in order to get into the left hand lane. The insanity continued when, after deciding that the imaginary cars in front of her were going way too slow, she decided to ride the center line of the highway while checking to make sure it was OK to get back into her original lane, speeding off into the sunset.

Now, I’m not one to buy into the standard driver stereotypes that are out there. In fact, I find most of them so offensive that I won’t even mention them here. However, one stereotype that has proven to be consistently true is that Maryland drivers are absolutely insane. At first, I though it was just a coincidence when I started to notice a pattern of poor driving etiquette on the part of our neighbors to the north. But, the Washington Times (yeah, I know…I read it just this once) recently published statistics showing that 64 percent of citations issued by automated traffic cameras in the District were issued to Maryland drivers, compared with 20 percent issued to District drivers, and 9 percent issued to Virginia drivers. (7 percent went to drivers from others states). Do you realize the significance of this figure? This should be grounds to stop these people at the border and turn them around until they learn how to drive.

Even as we speak, Maryland officials are beginning their outcry, claiming that District officials are unfairly targeting out-of-District drivers, and that this is our alternative to passing a commuter tax. Yet, we hear nothing from our Virginian neighbors about this unfair penalty. One of the main features of the traffic camera is that it can’t discriminate, and is one of the reasons it’s part of Marty Stroodler’s Utopia. It’s other great power lies in it’s ability to show you habits and behaviors that you might not have expected. Well, WE all knew what the cameras would say, but Marylanders (is that what you call them?) just seemed stunned. I think the answer is simple – send our overly bureaucratic DMV representatives from the District over to Maryland to begin immediate re-testing of all individuals in their ability to operate a motor vehicle. Do it for the children…or at least my sanity on the drive home.