<![CDATA[Okay, these are the little things that I've been thinking about that won't fit together in a real column. Call me lazy if you want, but hey — you're gettin' bonus reading material, so quit yer complainin'.

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My cousins four year-old son (does that make him my second cousin, first cousin once removed, or tertiary cousin ad nauseum?) was over recently, and he, being the rambunctious lad that he was, started peering over my shoulder, looking at me while I was working on my laptop.

“Hey, I wanna see a monster.”

“Sorry, no monsters here. Just me and my boring Word document.”

“But, but, this is a computer right… so… I like monsters. I think you should go to Monster.com.”

I’m chuckling at this point.

“Trace, I can take you to Monster.com, but it’s not what you think. It’s just a website with a bunch of jobs and stuff. Pretty boring.”

“Nuh-uh, I think there’s monsters there. Come on, go to Monster.com. Come onnnn…”

So finally I relent, and show him.

And you know what? He was right. On the front page of Monster.com, there is a big old crazy looking monster. I guess he must be their corporate mascot or something. Shows you what I know.

After Trace spotted the monster, he looked at me with a precocious grin and nodded, as if to say, trust me, I’m a kid… I know these things.

* * * *

You know, if my name was Katrina, I’d be really annoyed at most media coverage of the recent hurricane. It’s journalistic shorthand to omit the word ‘hurricane’ when we speak of the devastation and all of the various related issues therein. And I understand the need for such editorial practices. Having to write or speak “Hurricane Katrina” just to differentiate between life-altering cataclysm and the popular first name would be banal and, after a while, more than a little redundant.

But by now, I imagine there are a few women out there named Katrina who are probably feeling a little defensive.

I can just imagine a Katrina on her lunch break, erupting to no one in particular.

“Look! I didn’t leave death and destruction in my wake, I didn’t force anybody to move, and I’m not responsible for the worst flood in the history of Lousiana, okay?! I’d like to eat my bagel and read my newspaper without being accused of visiting unspeakable horrors upon mankind.”

* * * *

Portland is a significantly smaller city than Chicago, so I figured that it would take me a little while to adjust to living in the Rose City again. Man was that an understatement.

There are many things I love about living here (fall in Portland is absolutely gorgeous), but I can’t help feeling that I’m living a bad sequel to The Truman Show. It’s seems like every other day I’m running into someone who I knew a long time ago and haven’t seen in years.

Just in my first two days at my new job, I coincidentally met a coworker from another department that used to go to my church when I was in elementary school AND a bus driver I befriended in high school, who’s now driving a route that stops next to my building.

So today, after I had walked past the desk of one of the management personnel for the third time, I was trying not to stare, but I could feel my familiar Spidey sense going off again. I tried to let it go, but I was too curious, so I knocked on the outside of her cubicle, and apologetically asked her if she went to the same high school I went to.

She smiled, and said “Nope… I went to Tubman, though.”

So that’s where I knew her from… middle school.

We small-talked for another minute or so before I triumphantly strode back to my desk, feeling grateful she recognized me. Not necessarily because I wanted her to remember me, but because I didn’t want her to think I was trying to hit on her or something.

So I’ve been at my company for a total of three days and already I’ve covered all the phases of my secondary education.

If I find out there’s somebody here who went to North Park, I’ll be humming the theme music to “This Is Your Life,” and looking for hidden cameras.

* * *

So yesterday my wife Holly and I stopped at a fast food joint to grab a bite. As I parked the car, I casually glanced over at the strip mall next to us, and I was amused by what I saw. Squeezed between Pizza Hut, FedEx Kinkos, and a retail store devoted to selling on eBay was a tae-kwon-do facility. It didn’t even have a real name, it just said, in a big yellow lighted sign, “TAEKWONDO.”

Hmm. Fast food, high tech document reproduction, e-commerce, and a martial arts program that emphasizes discipline and restraint.

One of these kids is not like the other one…

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get some sort of coupon-group-deal, maybe something out of the Entertainment book, where you could get two slices of Pizza to go, make a few copies, and get five tries to land a roundhouse kick on the local instructor.

And then maybe if the coupons got popular enough, you could sell ’em on eBay.

Okay, that’s all for now. I’m G*Natural, and thanks for mixin’ it up with me.


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