Monthly Archives: March 2004

Why America is like my cleaning lady

I have a cleaning lady. She comes once a month. In fact, she’ll be cleaning my place this week…

In anticipation of her arrival, I haven’t done any dishes for days. My cloths are polluting my bedroom like collateral damage…
My pots and pans still have three day-old remnants of scrambled eggs sticking to them…
Garbage cans and recycling bins are likely to volcanically erupt they are so overflowing…

And no, I’m not normally a slob. But maybe my cleaning lady assumes I am. Because I know she is coming, I ease up on my cleaning responsibilities. I don’t mind giving her more work — that’s what I hire her for, of course …

If she came once a week would I be a slob all the time?

Maybe.

Ok. Probably.

Why not?

Often times, the rest of the world sees America as its cleaning lady…

“We don’t need to worry about cleaning up after ourselves, we can rely on America.”

“We can appease dictators. Because America will clean up if our strategy of appeasement ultimately fails. Of course, we can go to bed feeling good about ourselves — because we stand for peace (even though our placating generally leads to war).”

“We can be Western Europe and decimate our military capability. We can turn our military to a welfare system where the average age is double that of the U.S. military and where personnel are 80% of our costs. Because we know we are never going to fight. We can count on America.”

“There’s a problem in Liberia … we want America to send troops. There’s a situation in Haiti … America — can you send some of your nice troops? We’ve got to keep American troops in Germany, in South Korea, in Bosnia, in Columbia …”

“We can propose impractical treaties in Kyoto because we know America will save us by taking an unpopular stand that we do not have to take in front of our people.”

Just like the anticipation of my cleaning lady, the world can act like a slob because it knows that it has the vacuum-wielding, Windex-toting, bleach-carrying, duster-brandishing, Tilex-sporting America ready to pounce when needed. Yes, it is America-on-demand. The USA is like the Wolf from Pulp Fiction — we’ll be there in 10 minutes to clean up your mess … even when you mistakenly blow your friend’s brains out …

I’m not implying that there is any other alternative … only pointing out America’s situation. America certainly shouldn’t shrink from helping to make the world a better place. We owe it to our fellow man to continue to act with a kind heart and be the strong parent (and not the one that’s always letting little Tommy replace dinner with two desserts).

And as the world of terror unfortunately gets bloodier, this “us against them” will fall more and more on America’s shoulders — with the rest of the world rooting for us and against us at the same time.

Rooting against us to appease the terrorists, the dictators, and the oil hoarders. And rooting for us because … well, because … if America retracts then they will have to actually step up and take responsibility.

And who wants to take responsibility?

Not me … I have the cleaning lady coming this week.

Why I like Skype

Next week my friend Eileen Tso Broch is moving from San Francisco to London to join Skype — the pioneering company that allows free telephone calls in a peer to peer system.

Skype was started by the founders of KaZaA and has received investment from Tim Draper, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Index Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and Mangrove Capital Partners.

the tool works well — high quality sound and easy to use. you can make peer to peer calls for free anywhere in the world.

it still has a lot of bugs — and it needs the ability for you to take your profile (friends) with you to another computer (it would be great if i could log into an internet cafe in Dubai and make telephone calls to all my friends) — my profile on my laptop does not match my desktop.

On turning thirty

I’ve been thinking about the age of “30” recently – probably because my own 30th birthday is only a few weeks away.

Still being in my twenties, I feel society has not tempted me with any responsibilities. No one expects a twenty-something urban male to have kids — or even to cook … or take care of a plant for that matter. People always give me the benefit of the doubt — my faults are deemed as “youthful indiscretions” … it’s “cool” when I don’t wear a tie … and while my watch isn’t made by Fisher Price, I still love Curious George — and singing “Pour Some Sugar on Me!” while eating Mike & Ike’s and owning a freezer overflowing with frozen pizza.

I even have perfect eye sight. But maybe I’ll get fake glasses to play the part.

Once I turn 30, I’ll finally be an “adult.” Everyone will think of me differently. Single women will think “potential husband” rather than “potential babysitter.”
Even my mother might stop insisting that she pay for dinner (and maybe she’ll finally stop reminding me to brush my teeth).

I’ve noticed some grey hairs … that might help …

I plan to be dour, unenergetic, and utterly serious. I might even take up golf. I’m going to wear black socks with sandals … and lots and lots of plaid. Yeah … I’ll like plaid. I might even buy some tools and learn how to fix something besides my computer … like maybe I’ll fix the washer and dryer … make it faster … though now that I’ll be an adult, I’ll have to stop washing my neighbor’s cat.

In the ancient Jewish tradition, one becomes a man at age 13 … but now bar mitzvahs just mean consumer commercialism (and my first game of spin the bottle with Sally Shlipowitz). In today’s world, the entire idea of a bar mitzvah is a farce. I mean the only rights you get is the right to baby-sit your younger siblings, the right to take out the garbage, and the right to stay up to 11pm on a Friday night so you can watch JR Ewing on Dallas … but I digress …

And it’s not like at 13 you can tell your parents what to do. You can still get grounded and your mom is still driving you to the junior high school dance. I personally spent most of my time then perfecting lewd noises with my hand cupped under my armpits.

And 18 is the official “adult date” in American society. But what does that really mean? Sure, you can vote — but most 18 year olds don’t. They’re too busy IM’ing each other, watching Real World Performs Jesus Christ Superstar (or something like that), and selling their parents’ memorabilia on eBay to get proceeds to pay for EverQuest.

And you can enter into a legally binding contract when you are 18 … but honestly, how many 18 year olds ever enter into a contract and are held to it? Even Britney Spears was allowed to annul her marriage. And yeah, you can smoke when you’re 18 … but no one actually starts smoking when their 18 (they usually start at 14) … and who cares! Because it is illegal to smoke as an adult everywhere except for that disgusting glass-enclosed jail in airports … and, kids don’t smoke anymore anyway … at least not tobacco.

And you can legally drink when you’re 21. but that just gives you the right to stop buying fake IDs. Most people I know consumed more alcohol before they were 21 then they will during the rest of their life. Now the one huge plus about turning 21 is being able to rent a car, but you still have to pay that $15/day under-25 age-discrimination charge (have you noticed that there is no over-95 rental car charge??? Now who do you think is more likely to get into accidents?).

Yes, you really become an adult at 30. you’ve probably just paid off your undergrad student loans and you might even be thinking about retirement planning …

and we all celebrate it. These days, 30th birthday parties are bigger than New Year’s celebrations — and often bigger than weddings. I know a person (his name rhymes with “Auren Hoffman”) that is having a 30th bday party both in San Francisco and New York — one always needs the East Coast party to ring in adulthood.

Unlike my 1987 Bar Mitzvah of old, my 2004 30th Bday Celebration might not feature wheelbarrow races or Ricky Klein trying to spike the punch. But some things (like continuously playing songs from “Kool & the Gang” and trying to play spin the bottle with Sally Shlipowitz) will never change.