30 November, 2007

My Level 5 Leader could Pown Your Level 3 Engineer

Can I kvetch for a little while?

“Please do Eric,” I hope you allow, “I haven’t had my fill of whiney-emo-chatter today.”

Did I detect on note of sarcasm in your voice, dear reader? Well, whether or not, I’ll take what I can get. One of the great frustrations of being a Mount Hermon intern is that you have to read some things that no self-respecting (which I shouldn’t claim to be) human being ought to read! Over the last several months I have been reading and discussing Jim Collins’ national-bestseller, Good to Great, or as I would call it, Simple Ideas Rehashed Until You Commit Seppuku with this Book. My title suggestion was ignored by his publishers.

Jim Collins’ Good to Great

I will give it to Jim, he knows how to take other people’s success stories and package them in such a way that he made a pretty penny himself. He gives us such witty analogies as ‘getting the right people on the bus” and “wash your cottage cheese,” and he has taught me how to curl up into a ball like a hedgehog (one of my favorite pastimes).

“Okay,” you interrupt (as usual), “where is this going, Eric? You’re not even doing that great of a job at complaining.”

My dear, and astute, reader, you are correct – my main purpose today is not to complain, but rather to follow Mr. Collins’ lead and embark on my own journey in capitalism! You see, one of Jim’s chapters is on what he calls “a level 5 leader,” and at this I thought to myself: Eric, is he speaking about some nerdy RPG (Role Playing Game, for you newbs) like Dungeons and Dragons? Naturally he was not, but that didn’t stop me from running with it.

I’ve never really played Dungeons and Dragons, but I’ve known a few nerds in my day

[Insert nerdy sound here.] My level 5 leader has a toupee of charisma and a +6 tie of recitation. [Pushes up glasses and another nerdy sound.]

Seriously guys, I think I could be onto something here! I could call it something like Associations and Accountants and you could create different character classes like Engineers, Accountants, CEOs, Investors, and Interns.

Potential Character Figurines for the Game

Okay, I can tell that you’re not sold on the idea, so allow for me to play Office Master and give you a possible scenario for my level 5 Leader.

A Level 5 Leader is gifted in both controlling employees and magic

Your Leader enters the corporate office, and something is obviously amiss. The foul stench of an alien presence permeates the halls. You proceed with caution. As you approach your lush corner office you are intercepted by your level 1 assistant. He informs you that there are a group of foreign investors in the boardroom. You can smell the hostile takeover.

A Horde of Foreign Investors

You slip into the boardroom, armed with Ostrich Leather Attaché Case forged by Jack Georges. The Foreign Investors swarm about the room, looking for blood. You whip out your +6 pen of trickery and begin battling your enemies. They cast a spell of offering good stock options, but you block with macho ego and then retaliate with a “for the good of the company” speech. The Foreign Investors begin to grow sleepy – your attack was successful. You practice your verbal agility and bullshit them into supplication. You are victorious in your first battle of the day! (You gained 1200 XP and $50,000 GP)

A Cantankerous Stockholder

As you leave the boardroom an impish man leaps out from behind the water cooler. Keeping your calm, you assess the situation: Samuel Chiggins, major stockholder, level 4. Chiggins announces that he will sell his stock to a rival firm unless his demands are met. You straighten your +57 tie of charisma and offer Chiggins a handshake of sedation. Chiggins takes your hand and you begin your verbal assault. Your veiled threats are too subtle to penetrate the old geezer’s ear hair, and you quickly change your battle tactics. Chiggins begins a brutal barrage of anecdotes about the company, but you are able to deflect by glancing at your +2 Rolex. Eventually you satisfy Chiggins by scheduling a meeting with him two weeks down the road, by which time his senility will make him forget all about his attack. (You gained 2000 XP and $63,000 GP)

A Rising Business Woman

As you return to your office your level 1 assistant once again stops you in the hall to inform you that a businesswoman is waiting in your office. You put up your guard and enter the room to find a level 3, business suit clad woman sitting on your plush leather sofa. You ask if you can be of service to her, and she begins to discuss the direction of her career. You recognize her as the woman who has been climbing the corporate ladder and decide to put on a concerned frown as she speaks. As she begins to push towards advancement and you deftly cast a spell of glass-ceiling and thus thwart her attempts at progress. Seizing the opportunity you offer to further discuss her career in your corporate hot tub on Friday night, she is unable to resist your poise. (You Gained 2300 XP, $70,000 GP, and a date for Friday)

You are on top of the World

You leave the office victorious and head toward your corporate jet for a quick trip to the Bahamas – you’ve earned it.

The Level 5 Leader Leaves a Little Richer

If you are reading this Jim Collins, get on the bus!

28 November, 2007

And I Kant Stand Him!

I was recently visited by my good friend Ben, and amidst our fine dining and pithy conversations, he was attempting to retreat from the world for a short time (fear not my dear Protestant worrywarts, he had every intention of returning) in order to write his Senior Project.

Ben and some of the McCollum Kids

As a quick aside for those of you who did not attend the prestigious California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo: Everyone who passes through the school’s learned halls must complete an opus that represents the acme of their academic work; everyone must complete a Senior Project that will be stored in the honorable Robert E. Kennedy Library for posterity. I wrote an ironic (misunderstood) essay on the history of the spiritual ramifications of the Bauhaus between the years of 1919 and 1932 – I know that it has been viewed on microfiche at least three times since being entered into the Library database.

Unless you object (which no doubt you’d like to, my most objectionable readers), I will carry on with the story at hand. Ben is a philosopher…

“Eric, this had better not be a boring philosophy story!” you will no doubt rudely interject. “Didn’t you learn your lesson after writing ‘Le Morte D’Bushman’ and had your audience sighing over your asinine, fifty paged attempt at wit?”

Well, I’m sure not all of my readers are quite so perturbed as you, dear reader, and thus I must ask for your patience (and tact) to be exercised in this instance. As I was saying, Ben is a philosopher, and as such he is given to philosophizing. His Senior Project is an attempt to move beyond justification though citation into original thought.

Dame Iris Murdoch

Now, if you know anything about Ben’s philosophical background, you know that he is hell-bent on discrediting Kant and making him the laughingstock of the philosophical world. Ben is attempting to use Dame Iris Murdoch’s philosophy to prove that Kant was speaking out of an orifice that most scholarship seems to come from. While I appreciate Ben’s project, I do not believe that Kant needs to be refuted from a philosophical standpoint, but rather I find it categorically imperative to defeat Kant once and for all in the realm of aesthetics!

Dear reader, this is our enemy, Immanuel Kant:

As you can see, Kant’s portraits range from looking downright evil to baboonish. Point the first, if we were to take Kant’s philosophy to act in a universilizabile fashion seriously, then I would ask for Immanuel to have a constant look about him! How can I take a stand of constancy when he can’t make up his mind to look like a bat out of hell or a Neanderthal!?

Point the second, look at him! The only reason he wants us to treat people as an ends unto themselves is because he knows that I could take him in a fight. Shoot, a one-armed, anemic child in an iron lung could rough him up! If the only groundwork he can lay for morals is that he doesn’t want to get thrashed by a school-girl returning home after having snow rubbed up her nose, then I don’t think we can take him all that seriously.

Point the third, to critique his reason practically and purely one only needs insert his name into little puns like, “If he Kant be ‘Emmanuel,’ then I Kant read Immanuel.” He would never see that one coming.

Lastly, point the fourth, the only possible argument in support of a demonstration of the existence of Kant can be found by students biting their thumbs at their philosophy professors when they tell their students that they ought to be doing their reading. If Kant can’t write clearly enough to prove to me that he thought, I don’t think he deserves to exist.

In conclusion, Kant is a big weenie, and even if Ben can’t refute him using Iris’ arguments, I believe that she could take him in a fistfight. And I refuted Kant thus!

The moral of the story is: You can choose your battles, but you Kant always fight fair. That one will never get old.

19 November, 2007

Thanksgiving a Humbug?

Do you remember when Thanksgiving used to be about gorging yourself on various tuber products and force-fed turkey? Or what about your Uncle Dave throwing back one or four too many glasses of wine? What about all of those nice fall color schemes in your house that you finally get to show off to your in-laws? Heck, we’ll even throw in some buckled hat pilgrims eating dinner with the Wampanoag in there if that helps get the spirit of Thanksgiving across. It doesn’t seem that long ago that people were so revved up about getting their double portion of turkey that they weren’t all too concerned with the culture of the market going on around them. But in this year, this the week of Thanksgiving, I have heard more complaints than thanks being offered. So buckle up, you chowderheads, this is going to be a bumpy ride.

I suppose it is true that Christmas seems to be coming quicker and quicker every year. People have been asking me, indignation on their faces, what I think about people already playing Christmas songs or (heaven forbid) purchasing Christmas trees? What is the correct date to begin celebrating Christmas?

I have, more than a little coyly, deferred to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and wanting to keep Christmas alive in my heart year round as Scrooge had after his conversion, “and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that truly be said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!” But people usually give me an exasperated sigh and say something to the affect of: “So you’re one of those people.”

Granted, the majority of complaints I receive from people about Christmas season are commercial ones. I’ve heard from folks that storefronts had barely taken down Halloween decorations before the Christmas ones were popping up. I can appreciate these concerns, I really can – they do seem to be signs of a further commoditization of Christmas (and all other holidays), but I wonder if Thanksgiving really cares about the face time. Do there need to be giant pilgrims and smiling turkeys in our stores to usher in the holiday cheer?

What Hand Turkeys have to do with Thanksgiving, I don't know... But they do.

However, I didn’t want to leave all of you dear readers debating the validity of this line of thinking, so I decided to invent a time machine and go back to the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth (not Berkeley) and partake in their merriment.

And so with the handy pilgrim costume I always keep on hand, I was in my time machine and rushing back to 1621. I arrived to the smell of fresh baked rolls and cooking duck and the sight of a child chasing a dog through a vegetable garden and her mother scolding close behind.

"The First Thanksgiving", painted by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

I tried to hide in the margins (something I picked up from being a wallflower back in High School) but these kind people pulled me into tumult of their celebration. We feasted and laughed for hours, only taking breaks from our eating long enough to either go for what they called “walks to get gut a’circulating” or sweep the children up into our arms and set them upon our knees so they could recount their latest adventure.

The party was going on without a hitch, but I could tell that there was something missing… Dancing! These Pilgrims weren’t dancing! Now, I should have remembered from my history books that Protestants were not the biggest fans of dancing back in the Seventeenth Century, but I had maybe thrown back a little bit too much mead to consider that at the moment. I eventually swaggered over to the cutest bonneted lady I’d ever seen and took her by the hand. At first the dancing was a little strained, but she quickly took to it. There were a few frowns from on-lookers, but the Wampanoag began howling with laughter and a few of the tribe’s youth came to join us. Eventually the Pilgrims’ eyes began to soften and slowly but surely they joined us in the most ruckus Pilgrim Dance Party America had ever experienced.

Dancing continued until the early hours of the morning when we all collapsed in fits of laughter and Tryptophan induced comas. This truly was a Thanksgiving to be thankful for.

But then the unthinkable happened.

There was an unearthly scream that jarred us all awake. Little Alverice was gone but we could hear him crying. Without considering the danger we might be thrusting ourselves into, I rallied the Pilgrims and Wampanoag behind me and we charged into the wilderness after the lost lad.

A cool mist had settled low to the ground, making it impossible to see what we where stepping upon. Without warning Jonathan the carpenter was grabbed by something and sucked down bellow the fog. We jumped back instinctively, but after taking hold of my senses, I leapt into the fray. If I can fight giant spiders and vampires, I was ready to take on whatever this foe may be.

As I dove into the mist, a claw slapped me across my chest and I was lifted back into the air and collided with my companions.

The beast rose to its full height, towering above us. A werewolf. In that moment I knew that my former roommate Jordan was right in his speculation that Squanto had indeed been a werewolf.

Fortunately I always carry a silver knife on my person for such occasions. I once again charged the beast and threw myself into its torso. Fighting off a barraged of clawed blows, I climbed up its body, clutching tightly to clumps of its fur. Eventually I reached its chest, and after drawing my blade I smote it thus. The monster collapsed to the ground and was metamorphed back into the former British slave, Squanto.

After we returned to camp and nursed Jonathan back to health and returned young Alverice to his mother, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag asked me if I would stay with them and help them build a new utopian society – they asked if I could lead them as their king. I told them that I needed to return to my own time and set a few things straight about this whole Thanksgiving business. They didn’t really understand what I was talking about, but there was not a dry eye among the lot of them.

And so my dear readers, I have returned to you in order to level this argument: Thanksgiving is about family and friends and an inordinate amount of food. Let’s try to keep Thanksgiving as uncommercialized as possible. And let us keep Christmas in our hearts year round.

I’m not really sure how that last one slipped in there.

18 November, 2007

I could Sell a Trunk-Elongator to an Elephant

I sometimes wonder if all of my job experience will someday culminate into some impressive position in which I can utilize all of the skills I have acquired over the years. Sometimes I think of myself like Dr. Samuel Becket from TV’s Quantum Leap, except for instead of having multiple doctorates, Al’s ex-wives, a bad-breathed Gooshie, and a sassy computer named Ziggy, I have fake racists co-workers and knowledge about sizing a woman’s toe.

Remember that time Sam Leapt into Lee Harvey Oswald?

Since I don’t believe myself to be leaping through time (righting wrongs, making sure Arrested Development was still being produced), I will instead embark upon giving my litany of jobs.

I was no capitalist from a young age; I did not have lemonade stands or mow neighbors’ yards. Truth be told, I was just a lazy little bugger. I started my first job in High School under parental persuasion. I joined the ranks of the SanOmar empire and spent my days screen-printing shirts and making Farkle containers in what I lovingly dubbed “the sweatshop.” I don’t find it particularly strange that this is the time I started listening to heart-breaking music, as I was working in a sweltering box with an enraged Cuban and a yappy dog.

In an attempt to cut down my hours working for San Omar I began working for my Uncle Dave, performing market research for large computer-data-storage-devices. I still have no idea what I did. Was I getting paid to surf the most boring parts of the web or I actually working – unbeknownst to me – for some covert organization with intentions to conquer the world… It was probably just the boring Internet stuff.

However, my situation quickly changed, as situations tend to do, and I found myself no longer working for either my uncle (who moved out of the computer-storage business) and my Cuban chief (as he tried to kill me with a bottle of Icky-Sticky-Unstuck). And so, once again my parents encouraged me to find work; however, since we were in the process of moving from Washington to California I did not know where to look for work. I decided to take a job working Day Camp at the church my father had taken a position with – it should be worth a few laughs, right?

I will only give my time working at South Hills Community Church a brief aside here (as I worked for them twice in the future), but my time working Day Camp was one of the worst jobs I ever had. I like kids, I really do, but there was a general feeling of disgust and entitlement that circulated not only amongst the campers but the counselors as well and if you mix that with dehydration and the repetition of cheesy music, you’ve got yourself a work experience that is detrimental to the soul.

Let’s fast-forward past my senior year in High School, the following summer, and my first year at Cal Poly to the summer preceding my second year.

I am not proud of it, but when I started off that summer I was so desperate for a job and having such difficulty finding one that I spent a day working for the local paper, calling people up to ask if they’d like to purchase a subscription.

“Eric!” No doubt you’re aghast. “Are you telling us that you were a telemarketer?”

Yes, dear reader… I took the position by urging of my parents, and while I tried to justify it in my mind in some way, I could not.

“You’re scum, Eric.”

I cannot fight you, reader. I was so ashamed that I never returned the telemarketing office, not even to pick up my check for one-day’s work – they had to send me my check for thirty some-odd dollars.

My rebound from telemarketing may not have been a great improvement, but at least customers came into my store rather than my entering their home. Yes, I began my first retail experience by becoming a vitamin salesman for the renowned The Vitamin Shoppe. Sure, it wasn’t the most glorious job, but I didn’t have a B Complex about it. Ha ha ha! But seriously, I was working and gaining experience (in what, don’t ask me) and I left confidently believing that I would return to San Luis Obispo ready to find a job and take on the world!

I had forgotten something over the summer: San Luis Obispo is a college town saturated with cheap labor. I thought some lucky store would just snatch me up when they saw me strutting my stuff down Higuera St., but this was far from the truth. Once again I was at the mercy of the man, and I began a dogged search for an employer.

After several weeks of turning in applications I finally found someone who wanted me. Gary Wallace of Edgeware Cutlery offered me a job as a knife salesman. Thus I continued in my soul-sucking retail experience.

Our fiercest competition

My time at Edgeware wasn’t a terrible one, I met such interesting characters as Brian, my coworker who feigned being racist to be accepted by his red (which I learned did not me ‘communist’) friends. There was Randy the postcard guy who was in love with my other coworker Yoneko. There were quite a variety of people who I had no right to sell knives to.

The problem was that the store started to get to me. The whole place was full of glass cabinets, and I started having vivid daydreams about systematically or barbarically destroying the entire store, one eye gently twitching.

Eventually I could not take working at Edgeware, I was going crazy working retail, and knew that I would not return after the summer.

I had been offered a job in San Jose working for a company called Once Upon a Toe.

“What was that?” said not doubt with a suppressed giggle.

Yes, dear reader, I worked for company called Once Upon a Toe. We sold toe rings. I was a toe ring salesman. I sorted, fitted, and sold toe rings. Actually, I generally worked in the office, but it wasn’t unheard of for me to size a woman’s toe so she could purchase an appropriately sized toe ring that she could wear continuously. (No, I hardly did anything to make that sound more ridiculous.) During that summer I also worked for South Hills one last time.

Okay, this post is becoming quite tedious, and so I will some pictures explain what it was like working for Lifewater and Mount Hermon.

I was asked to dress like this to represent Lifewater

Johnny put up more of a fight than any High Schooler ever has

So, my work experience may not have taught me to be the most honest person who ever lived, but you can rest assured that I can sell a decorative supplement to an armed (albeit dehydrated) youth from another country at the drop of a hat. Sigh.

15 November, 2007

From the One You Left Behind...

If I ever happen to have children (one of which would be named Linnaea), I would not allow them to attend school on 15 November, as it is one of the most important – albeit uncelebrated – days of the year (according to the Gregorian calendar).

Wait, dear reader, you look a little confused. Could it possibly be that you are unclear on what day it is?

“Okay, Eric,” you will probably pander, lip upturned and finger forcefully tapping your keyboard, “what day is today?”

What day is today? Why today is Paul McCullough day! This is the day when June McCullough gave birth to Paul “Bobby” McCullough a short twenty-two years ago. However, I will not give you a biographical sketch on Mr. McCullough because that job has already been breathlessly accomplished by one Alison Waffles, and so I defer you, dear reader, to her.

“Well, if you aren’t going to tell us about Paul’s life, then why are you taking up our time? You really screwed up this time.”

My word, you are on edge today, so allow for me to rush ahead!

Today I want to talk about myself (big surprise), and more specifically what Paul McCullough means to me. Since he is so far away, I figured that I could get away with writing him a very sentimental cinquain which I have decided to put on display for all of you here today. In honor of Ben’s witty comment earlier, I have named this poem “A Good Paul Isn’t Hard to Find:”

If I
don’t marry, Paul
could be my hetero-
sexual life partner. He’s a
good man.

Now that my heart’s bleeding all over your web browser, I will show you a couple of pictures to drive home the goodness of my dear friend.

Paul sitting with our dear friend Adam (who happens to be a hobo clown poet)

When Paul choreographed the dance numbers for the movie Footloose

Paul brought sexy back years before JT

Life imitating art imitating life

To Paul - may that magnificent son of a McCullough have many glorious years ahead of him!

So, while I will always encourage you to remember me when naming your children, I ask that you also pause before sending wee Eric or Erica to school come 15 November.

09 November, 2007

Stay Depressed Emo Kid

Hands down Chris Carrabba front manned the best emo band ever in Dashboard Confessional. For all of you out there who find my crestfallen friend a tad bit whiney or annoying – you’ve probably leveled the same charges against me, and so I’m not even going to listen to you.

However, this is not a love note to my heartbroken buddy, but rather I wanted to explore what emo looks like in other cultures!

Now, we’re all probably familiar with the stereotypical emo garb, kindly displayed on my friend Ben bellow (I snuck Paul in there too because he was probably playing some hella melancholic tunes at the time). You’ll note the black clothing, hair in the face, and dissatisfied expression – please keep that in mind for the remainder of this rambling.

Despite the derision of my peers (if one can call them that), I adamantly believe that I am not, nor have I ever been, emo. If costuming suggests anything, I did not garb myself in black. If lamenting past loves was a requirement, I certainly couldn’t have accomplished that in High School. So, let’s just put to rest this whole Eric=Emo business because it is nothing more than hot air.

“Eric,” you may interject, as you often seem to, “why are you so worried about being emo if you started off this article defending its avatar?”

Well, my astute reader, I do not want to be likened to emo music because the majority of it is really bad, and emo kids can be a bit whiney. For a while there were stickers circulating with the lowercase words: “cheer up emo kid.” These emo kids wanted to be sad, so I fashioned a sticker of my own, cleverly bearing the title of this post.

“Eric,” you’ll no doubtedly persist, “you’ve done a bit of griping today, but you have yet to discuss emo in other cultures. Please share your thoughts.”

Thank you reader, I can always trust you to keep me on track. I discovered this picture on Google images while searching the term “lederhosen” (please don’t ask why).

I was startled to see the hipster haircut, the downcast eyes, the hands digging into his pockets, the curling lips. This was either an emo kid in Bavarian disguise or in fact something I had never considered before. Had emo reached our Germanic friends? Were their Emokindern? I can only imagine heartfelt ballads about punctual scheduling and flipping coasters in bars. Has an accordion ever appeared in a song by bands named something like Dunkelaugen? This whole going international thing could really be what emo needs to become a serious genre.

Now, perhaps some of you are thinking up mean jokes about Germans not having feelings, and thus being unable to be ‘emotional,’ but I assure you, that this is plain not true! Hannes Wader sings a lovely song about wild swans and birch trees courting one another, and the most famous German drinking song laments, “you don’t know how good I’ve been to you.” So, let’s slap some black Lederhosen on and stand in the middle of polka concerts, scowls on our faces, and deride the other listeners because we’ve known about polka music so much longer than they have.

06 November, 2007

Is that a Cougar Eating Your Face or are You just Happy to See Me?

Back in February a mountain lion decided to gnaw on a seventy year old chap for a little while. The man survived, the mountain lion returned to the forest, and since then mountain lion sightings have been on the rise – we are up to six a day in Santa Cruz County! Since only about six people see me in any given day, there is a good chance that one of those people are a mountain lion in disguise – topology suggests as much.

Mountain lions are about the sneakiest bastards you could ever hope to meet. Last year one walked around in downtown San Luis Obispo for about an hour without being noticed – everyone just thought it was a European tourist looking to purchase a cat sweater. Eventually we figured out that it wasn’t really a European when it commented that it really liked Budweiser – we shot him on the spot after that little slip. There is now mass hysteria surrounding a mountain lion invasion. My roommate, Matt Boutte, long time San Luis resident, has considered running for political office on an anti-cougar platform. “I have always been a Tiger (the SLO High mascot), but I have never been a cougar!

I am naturally worried about the escalating mountain lion population. My instincts are starting to kick in, proving me to be a skittish animal. My eyes are always watching the trees, anticipating a cougar licking its chops at my lean, sinewy flesh.

However, I have decided to no longer live in fear. I will not let these cougars disrupt my American way of life. I will launch a pre-emptive strike that will shock and awe all puma-kind. I have found a tree perfect for pouncing, and have crafted a little resting place amidst its branches. I plan on lying in wait for a mountain lion and then pounce upon it, unawares. I will give it a brief scuffle and then allow it to retreat. As it flees, tail between its legs, I will raise a defiant finger and declare: “Tell all your friends!”

I figure I will either live a life from that point forward free from the cougar-menace or I will sincerely hope that one of you find me while I am in combat with the cougar, its mouth firmly gripping my face. Oh, and I’d be most happy to see you at that point.

03 November, 2007

Don't Pee on my Coat

I have a tendency to live in abnormally chilly houses. In San Luis Obispo it was not uncommon to see your breath during the winter months. I can remember a period of time while I was studying the history of death and dying in modern Europe and America – I would don my history cardigan, wrap an afghan about my legs, bury some earplugs into my ears, and sport my very stylish reading glasses. I felt like an old man with bad hearing and vision. People would enter the room, I would barely hear them, and then upon looking up they were nothing more than a hazy blob. Oh, and I could see my breath.

However, I do not want to speak about my San Luis residence today. I am now in the Santa Cruz mountains, and am housed in a fine abode. As you can imagine, it is a lovely living space; however it is also on average ten to fifteen degrees colder than anywhere else in Santa Cruz County. Our house is partially submerged under a hill, and my being downstairs leads my home to be somewhat similar to a Hobbit-hole or a mole’s home.

With the weather getting colder, I have been excited to wear my beloved pea coat (maybe the nicest thing I own). I realized that this desire would arise when I was preparing myself for the move over the hill, and I began packing up my belongings thinking that my coat would materialize. Alas, my coat was nowhere to be seen! I could have sworn that it was packed up when I left San Luis, but I hadn’t needed it while I was at camp, and thus I hadn’t seen it for a good three months.

I began a frantic search for my beloved jacket, but my efforts were fruitless. I had one final desperate hope of finding the coat: sending out an email to my dispersed roommates. My cry for help clawed its way through the cold divide of cyberspace and managed to reach my friends.

At first the results were bleak. “Haven’t seen it, but I’ll keep my eyes open.” Touching, but ultimately left me without my coat, and the weather continued to grow colder.

I had all but given up hope in reclaiming my outer garment (searching eBay, eyeing my roommates parka) when a welcomed name appeared in my inbox. Johnny Paolucci, that magnificent Italian, had sent me a note. Any news from Johnny could warm my heart even if my body were an icy relic awaiting future anthropological discovery. What was this? My coat had been discovered! It was a prodigal and returned to me! I once was cold but now I’m warm! I would survive my first winter atop the mountain!

Before you think me entirely mercenary, my coat was not the only reason I went to San Luis last weekend. I love people there very much, and I would want to see them even if my coat rested safely in my home or was misplaced in Beirut.

And so, good has been done here. Johnny is still a beautiful man, and you will all get to enjoy a thawed Mr. Garner. Eric: one – Anthropologists: zero.