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19 posts from November 2008

On Pilgrims

The house my mom grew up in in Massachusetts was about 20 minutes from Plymouth Rock, and in the mid-1980s my family moved back to her hometown for a bit when my dad was transferred to work on a Boston-based project.  Therefore, I lived in Massachusetts for part of preschool and kindergarten, which has since proved to have a disproportionately significant effect on my personal level of respect for Pilgrims.  See, Massachusetts is a very Pilgrim-loving state, and preschool and kindergarten are very crucial years in the formation of a person's knowledge of holidays.  Put them together, and you get the impression that Pilgrims are extremely important.

Signs of Pilgrim importance were everywhere in Massachusetts.  The signs on the Mass Pike had pilgrim hats stenciled on them, for God's sake!  The town I lived in was also home to the Miles Standish Monument, and to this day I am not sure if he is a legitimate famous person or not, because his name was so ubiquitous in my youth.  Does every five-year old know about Miles Standish?  Was he really that big of a deal?  Or was his importance inflated by my very pro-Standish preschool teachers?  Perhaps you can tell me, because I lived less than a mile from a statue of him, so I think my opinion of him might be a little subjective.

Anyway, in my two years as an MA resident, I was on the receiving end of a lot of Pilgrim hype.  I've visited Plymouth Rock more times than I can count, and I went to Plimouth Plantation (note ye fancie olde spelling) every time the library was giving discounted passes.  I've toured the Mayflower II and owned my fair share of pilgrim memorabilia.  And it's not that I'm saying these weren't enjoyable experiences--they were.  Plymouth is a lovely place.  All I'm saying is that it took me a really, really, abnormally long time to realize something that I think most kids realize by age 10:

The Pilgrims were lame, no-fun dorks.

Because Pilgrims are such an important part of Massachusetts history, it often gets overlooked that they were boring prudes.  Yet, there is a reason why there are no bars or nightclubs with a Puritan theme.  Plymouth Colony was a pretty bleak place--as is anywhere where the List of Ways to Die a Young, Horrible Death (scurvy, cholera, dysentery, scabies, rabies, starvation, childbirth, exposure, etc.), is about ten times longer than the List of Fun Things to Do (butter churning and buckle polishing).

Boring or not, I am more than happy to celebrate the Pilgrims each year by taking the day off work and eating a cubic meter of mashed potatoes.  That seems like a fair deal to me.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Every Photo of Me Must Now Be Shot from This Angle

Last week the place I visited in Philadelphia had a front desk security guard that was, by far, the laziest I have ever seen in my life.  However, this resulted in a visitor badge that was, also by far, the best I have ever had the privilege of wearing.  Behold:
There are many wonderful things about this badge, like the fact that he did not bother to type out my whole name or enter a primary contact, but clearly the real showstopper is that gorgeous photo.  The Matrix-like effect you see going on was produced by the innovative photographic technique of not caring enough to pick the camera up off his desk and point it at me, and it is certainly a technique I will employ in the future whenever I want to look like that special combination of giant, gangsta, and first floor education center visitor.

Incidentally, I Actually Did Have Pancakes for Breakfast Yesterday in Real Life

Pancake Breakfast will continue to be a slightly sporadic feature on this site throughout the winter as the cold weather makes dog park trips and other fun, photogenic activities a little bit harder to come by. However, to make up for the lack of new pics this weekend, here's a link to a guest post I did for Who's Your Dachshund, which features non-doxies on the weekends.

This Week In Internet: Disney, Doggie, and Joan Holloway

I was in Philadelphia most of this week with only sporadic Internet access (I really need to get a laptop already), but here are the links I managed to dig up.

Time for some serious sleep.  Must forget that Philadelphia traffic.

Can I Interest You In a Jar of PLEASE GOD WHY

In my mind I have this running list of shops I will not enter unless they are absolutely swarmed with customers. All of the stores on this list (which includes such popular mall favorites as Bath & Body Works, Victoria's Secret, the shoe department at Nordstrom, and any perfume counter anywhere on Earth) have one thing in common: their salespeople have been trained in the art of what I like the call The Sales Pitch of Earnest Desperation.  This is when, upon entering the store, you are immediately accosted by an overly effusive sales associate offering to Help You With Anything You Need, Seriously, Just Ask, My Name's Jennifer and I'll Be, Well, Hovering Right Beside You Until You Decide Things Are Too Awkward and Then Sneak Out of the Store.

Everybody has their own way of dealing with these people; some ignore them, others tell them to f*ck off, and still others will politely keep repeating, "No, thanks, I'm fine," for the duration of their visit.  However, I do not know of a single person who will turn to the lady in Bath & Body Works and say, "You know what?  You can help me!  I am new to this planet and its concepts of grooming, bathing, and perfuming.  Furthermore, the layout of this store confuses me. Why does this bottle of lotion have a picture of a pear on it, while this one features an image of a rose?"

So if nobody out there is looking for this suffocating level of "service," why does it continue to exist?  This is what I have been pondering for the past two days after a particularly disastrous encounter with an overzealous Lush employee.  I would describe her pathetic sales pitch in detail, but a.) to relive that encounter would be to risk a brain hemorrhage, and b.) I am already getting the evil eye from the person behind me in line to use this hotel's computer; instead I will just ask, "WHY?  Why won't they leave us alone?"  Leave your theories in the comments.

This Week In Internet: Steak, Penguins, and That's What She Said

Just a couple of links before I go play Guitar Hero for the next 60 hours: