The Intelligence Estimate

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When I went home to my mom's my hair was this long...crazy homeless man length.

This is my brother Dave post haircut. Gosh he looks happy. That's because this is the haircut he asked Mom to give him.

This is me post hair cut. I don't look as happy do I? THAT'S BECAUSE THIS IS NOT THE HAIRCUT I ASKED FOR! Mom asked me how I wanted my hair cut. I said, "Like it is only shorter." She heard, "Like HIS only shorter." By the time I realized what she was doing she was half done with my hair cut. So I let her finish.
Then I went home and did this.

It's a workable solution, but not perfect. I feel this haircut makes minorities very jumpy and cancer survivors think I'm mocking them.

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Skynet is Becoming Self Aware

Yesterday I was helping a friend load some files onto my computer so I could edit them for her. She is a MAC and I am a PC. I'm rather proud to be John Hodgeman in this scenario. He's definitely the smarter of the too. Stupid Justin Long made Accepted. Prosecution rests.

Anyway, as in any cross platform communication, it was a nightmarish cluster-fuck. While we were trying to dump files somehow my external hard drive (which contained the files from my movie, my entire music library and every picture we've taken since getting a digital camera) got erased.

Then my computer started shutting down with no warning or reason. I eventually did a system restore on that an it seems to be ok now.

But when I got in my car today to take the hard drive to ye olde data mines the car was dead. No click of the starter motor, no lights on the dash, nothing. Completely dead.

The machines are mad. I thought the first rule of any nearly sentient equiptment was to do no harm to humans. Isn't that the prime directive? Didn't Asimov or Bradley tell me that machines can't hurt me? I guess that was the FICTION part of the science.

Just to be safe I'm not gonna turn on my TV for fear that it will fill the room with poisonous gas while screaming obscenities about my mother and ruining my credit rating.

Keep It Down, I'm Trying to Get PAID!

Ever since I've been unemployed it's become increasingly harder to drag my ass out of bed. So much so that I have now gone almost entirely nocturnal. I routinely go to bed around 4 or 5 am. I am just not tired before then. Then when I get into bed I sleep for 12 or 13 hours. Yesterday I slept the sun around. Dark when I went to bed. Dark when I got up. Without any reason to get out of bed, surprise, surprise, I don't. It's also a very kid-friendly way of handling depression.

So imagine how shocked I was when I got rejected for a University of Chicago sleep study. Let me just defend my honor at this point and clarify: I AM AN EXCELLENT SLEEPER! Honestly, Olympic caliber. I've been entertaining the idea of teaching a master class for insomniacs. I am THAT good!

The study was something about a link between sleep, weight and diabetes. So they asked me my weight, which I make a habit of not giving out over the phone just like my social security number and for much the same reasons. I don't want anyone using it against me. But the economy has loosened my morals on the issue a bit and if it would get me a paycheck I would have told them I was an albino, lesbian, soccer mom.

I gave them the number and they said, in a nutshell, "Okay, you're fat." Thank you very much. Go ahead, take my pride, I'm clearly not using it for anything. That's a good 7 or 8 pounds lost right there.

They asked me about my caffeine intake. I told them it, not unlike my ass, was sizable. Honestly, I have to do something to keep me awake. They asked me if I would be willing to ween myself off of caffeine for the study. And for the price they were offering I would have shot the stuff directly into my own eyeballs if they asked.

"Are you on any prescription medications?"

My pat answer is usually, "Yes. ANTI-PSYCHOTICS!" And then I start eating my own shirt. But I decided that was probably going to work against me in this scenario. Little did I realize that the truth was also going to work against me.

"I am on an anti-depressant for general anxiety disorder."

That's it. No thank you. Take a hike. We can't use you.

Apparently I am so unemployable that I cannot even get a job SLEEPING! Ironically not having a job is the major source of my anxiety right now. A little income from...say...I don't know...a sleep study would have made me a lot less anxious and rendered the caffeine unnecessary.

And so now I will go back to assuaging my anxiety and depression the only ways I know: prescription drugs and sleep. Sweet, anxiety-inducing, unpaid sleep.

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An Open Letter to The Unemployment Office

To The Illinois Department of Employment Security,

Your websites are a joke and your phone service is the punchline.

I registered for unemployment a month ago on your poorly constructed and even more poorly implemented website. I answered question after painfully incomprehensible question. I signed up for the Illinois Skills Match database. I listed all of my job skills and education and training for you to quantify. I searched through your "skills match" jobs. I looked on patiently as your website listed all the jobs I was "qualified" for along with a corresponding percentage of "how qualified" I was for them. I slowly simmered while those percentages told me the gap between my skills and the jobs available...a quantification and catalog of my inadequacy rarely seen outside of the a family gathering. But I did not get angry.

I've called in every other week to certify that I am looking for jobs. I have answered your battery of even more incomprehensibly worded questions. ("Were you working for the same company on the 12th as you were on the 8th?" I was fired on the 8th. If I answer "Yes" then I am certifying that I am still employed by the company that fired me, which is not true. If I answer "No" I am stating that I am currently working, which is also not true.)

I smiled through gritted teeth when you demanded to put my unemployment money on a State of Illinois Visa card. I angrily drummed my fingers on the desk as I waded through the digital swamp that hid the application form for the direct deposit of my unemployment money into my checking account. Even when I got a letter from your office saying that I was being denied a week of my unemployment money because I answered a phone question in a way that made you question my eligibility I remained begrudgingly calm.

When I called into your office (using the phone number provided by your very own paperwork) on three separate occasions and was immediately ushered into a voicemail box I teetered on the brink of coming unhinged. When the voicemail announcer informed me that the mailbox was full and that my only option was to "try back later?" That was the precise moment I became certifiably enraged.

I submit to you that there is no job crisis. You clearly need more people at the unemployment office to answer phones. Maybe someone to help you make sense of the certification questions? I have a Speech Communications degree and have held many writing and customer service positions. I feel like my job history and training make me uniquely able to fill the gap in your office team. I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss my qualifications with you further. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest possible convenience...or whenever you can pull yourself out of that voicemail box.

Chris Gummert, Job Seeker

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A Shadow of his Former Self

Two weeks ago I was exercising in my living room with the "help" of Nintendo's Wii Fit. When it came time to weigh myself at the end of my session I was told that the Wii balance board was out of battery power and the only way to proceed was to change the batteries immediately. "No problem," I thought. "I'll burn off more calories looking for batteries and show this thing who's boss.

I got batteries and put them in the bottom of the balance board, turned it on and carefully flipped it over. The screen beeped at me. That's when I noticed that the weight of my hand on the board and the motion of the board hitting the floor registered as my weight, 0.62 lbs.

Apparently the extra weight I burned off looking for those batteries was beneficial in ways I even now can't comprehend.

Suddenly the screen started congratulating me on meeting my weight loss goal (to lose 20 lbs in a year) ahead of schedule. It didn't seem to concerned that the Wiimote weighs more than 0.62 lbs. It also didn't wonder about how I had gone about losing an amazing 216 pounds in the course of ONE WORK OUT. Details.

Then it suggested that I make a NEW workout goal. It suggested that 0.62 pounds may be a dangerous weight to be at so why not try building up some muscle mass? Why not indeed. At a little more than half a pound I should have no trouble finding heavy things to lift.

It would not let me advance any further or take my weight measurement again until I had made a new goal. Now being a game geared toward fat Americans it would not allow me to make a goal of GAINING weight. So the only goal I could choose from their menu was to MAINTAIN MY CURRENT WEIGHT. And the shortest time frame they gave me was 2 weeks. So That's the goal I made.

I then went back to take my weight measurement again. This time it measured me correctly and was simply appalled that I had gained 216 pounds since our last measurement.

So in the world according to Wii Fit you can never be too thin. Losing 216 pounds in a half an hour is commendable. Gaining 216 pounds in 3 minutes is shocking.

Imagine its disappointment today when I weighed myself again and, despite having lost a few pound in the intervening 2 weeks, I still hadn't maintained my old fighting weight of 0.62 pounds. But I am back on the trail. I am eating lightning and crapping thunder and one day I will be a contender again!

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It's a Union Job

I hate when handymen of any trade come over to the house. I always feel violated somehow. Like they're judging me. I feel like they are scrutinizing the way that I live and if I were a better person I wouldn't need to call in a wrench monkey to come lay hands on my pipes...or whatever it is they do.

Earlier this week a "team" showed up to tuck point the exterior of the apartment. For those of you unfamiliar with tuck pointing it is a masonry project where the exterior brick work is sealed by a process consisting of old Italian stereotypes yelling obscene things at each other at the top of their lungs. Somehow that keeps the water out of the house. My guess is that the water is just afraid to come in now.

So for two whole days we were held hostage by swarthy jerks on scaffolds who wanted nothing more than to scream our place sealed. Sophie, who has been a fitful sleeper as of late, slept through the whole thing.

This concerns me on a lot of levels. Not the least of which is that I am afraid now that when it comes to hiring a sitter we are going to need to find a Teamster with tourettes.

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My Apologies

I'm sorry. I didn't realize. I just thought the people who mentioned it saw something that I didn't see. I know it seems absurd, but I honestly didn't notice. So I'd like to say "I'm sorry" to all the people who asked me in the last year, "have you lost weight?" I didn't mean to lose my temper or insinuate that you thought I was fat. I just didn't realize I was losing weight.

Apparently, according to no less an authority than my doctor, I have lost 17 and a half pounds over the last year.

So the upside is I'm now almost 20 pounds lighter, the downside is I'm convinced I have chronic wasting disease or perhaps a large tape worm. Been nice knowin' ya!

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