Phone Impairment

I hate the phone. I hate how it rings and startles you when you're doing something important. I hate waiting for people to call back. I hate it when people call incessantly. I hate that my phone makes more noises than R2D2 on crack. I hate it when people leave a message that says, "Call me back." I hate how your ear gets all warm and sweaty after you've had the phone up to your ear for 20 minutes. I hate paying 45 dollars a month so that I can reached and tortured by any one, any time. I hate worrying about the brain cancer it may be causing. I hate that my mother can hear me rolling my eyes on the other end of the line. Did I mention I hate the phone?

Why do I hate the phone? Because I am phone impaired. Perhaps not Homer Simpson impaired, but impaired nonetheless. My calls are punctuated by awkward silences. On work telecons (which combine TWO awful things: phones and work), I'm always talking at the same time someone as someone else such that we probably sound like geese at the reservoir. I know that the valediction should probably depend on who I'm talking to, but everyone gets the standard, "So, uh, yeah ... talk to you later", even if it's a telemarketer from India.

As far as I'm concerned, the phone is a means to an end. Get in, get out, get on with your life. You have a question, you make the call, you get it answered, you get off the phone. I think I learned this from my dad. You can always tell when he's done talking. They best is when he tells you point blank: "Well, I'm out of words." Yep, I'm out of words, so don't judge me.


The hiearchy of Sandwiches

Growing up, I think I ate a sandwich nearly every day. Peanut butter and honey was a staple, as was peanut butter and mom's strawberry freezer jam. Tuna fish was rarely acceptable because it didn't age well in your backpack from 8 am until noon (fish + mayo + lettuce + room temperature = soggy and smelly).

The real travesty, though, was the cold cut sandwich. I'm not sure how it happened, but I never learned how to make a proper sandwich using sliced meats. For starters, we used margarine instead (no mayo) and "kinda" cheese (Kraft singles, which are only "kinda" cheese). Forget any lettuce, tomatoes, or mustard. It was just 3 or four slices of pressed chicken product between two slices of white bread. And, to be honest, I liked it! Sometimes I'll still make one when I'm feeling nostalgic. But this is not the kind of sandwich that will win adulation and affection.

Fortunately, I discovered the real sandwich when I started working. It was then that I realized that I don't tolerate fast food anymore. I have a once per month quota on anything from McDonald's, Burger King, Arby's, Taco Bell, etc. (Well, that's not true, I could probably eat Five Guys several times a week, but that's another post entirely.) What, then, is a hungry young professional to do?

Become a sandwich snob, that's what. If you go easy on the milk based condiments, its damn hard to make a sandwich unhealthy. I used to eat at Subway 3 or 4 times a week. At least. Grilled chicken breast on wheat with spinach, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, vinegar and oil. Awesome, totally non lethal, and 5 bucks. Life was blissful.

And then I ate at the Subway Shop in San Diego. You've probably never heard of it, probably will never go, either. But, they make the best sandwich ever. Hot pastrami on 2 inch thick marbled rye with provolone and mild peppers. This is when I realized that Subway was really no better than the cold cut and margarine sandwich.

Since the Subway Shop, I've been on a quest for the perfect lunch sandwich. It must be inexpensive, tasty, easy to pick up (in both ways), and not so full of triglycerides that my Dr. can buy a new pool based on my future medical bills. And I think I found it at Jimmy John's:
  • Tasty: French bread that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Bread is the KEY to a good sandwich. A JJ sub, filled with toppings together well enough that you can eat it while driving on the freeway with a manual transmission. Not that you should... They also have something that a lot of places are missing -- the avocado!
  • Inexpensive. Less than 5 bucks for most sandwiches. To be fair, the sandwich is 4 inches shorter than at subway, but what sense does it make to measure food by the inch?
  • Easy to pick up. Online ordering people! ONLINE ORDERING. Get on the web and you can tell them EXACTLY how you want your sandwich. No line, no sandwich artist with a tenuous grasp of the English language, and then you walk in and and walk out. With online ordering, you don't need a drive through.
  • Healthy. Sure enough. They advertise 4 sandwiches with less than 5 grams of fat. I would guess that most don't have much more. As always, you've got to avoid the mayo for that to work. Not a problem for me, because the bread isn't sandpaper-ish.
Well sheesh. This turned into a stupid advertisement. Lame. Sorry about that, but I really do like a good lunch sandwich. If you're like me, and you want to grab a quick lunch you can eat in the office, where do you go?


Constantine's Sword

Sometimes, despite my better judgment, I abandon the usual episodes of 30 Rock and The Office for something more cerebral. This time, it happened by total accident. I downloaded a movie called Constantine's Sword, thinking it was some sort of sequel to the the guilty pleasure movie Constantine. (Yes, the lame one with Keanu Reeves ... don't judge me...)

What I got instead was this semi-documentary exploring the violent origins of Christianity in modern western civilization and the intolerance. Immediately, I was intrigued; violence and intolerance are not attributes that I associate at all with Christ or His believers in any age. Certainly, I was familiar with the mixed role the Catholic church (the source of Christianity at that time) played in Europe throughout the middle ages, but I always assumed those trespasses to be part of some malignancy introduced by corrupting and later was excised by the renaissance, the reformation, and the enlightenment. Constantine's Sword however, shines a much brighter light on the history, makes some very interesting and disturbing observations about where modern Christianity comes from, the dark symbolism of the cross, the actual role of Jerusalem's Jews in the crucifixion, the growth of antisemitism, and the as the subsequent role (or lack thereof) of the church in inquisitions, crusades, wars, hateful evangelism and even the Holocaust.

I hope it doesn't seem as though I accept everything in the film as historical fact, because I do know that the the film shows only one perspective and takes liberties in compressing 2000 years of history into two hours. That said, the film makes a genuine inquiry into some of modern Christanity's flaws, which have suprisingly ancient roots.

For me, personally, the lessons from the film revolve around two of the two great balances of Christianity in the United States: how do we balance church and state when the majority is Christian, and how do we balance evangelism and a desire to prosylite with religious tolerance? Difficult questions indeed. We'd like to believe that we are philosophically light years away from the church that went on crusades or told Jews to convert or die, but we must acknowledge that these wrongs are in our past and avoid any modern day incarnations.