My New Year’s Resolution — Zipping

Yesterday, I had my combination lock cut from my gym locker when, after several attempts, I realized it’d been so long since I’d last worked out, I’d forgotten the combination.

So yes, weight loss is among my New Year’s resolutions, which I gladly make every year. This blog was Resolution No. 1 last year, and I’ve been at it (almost) every weekday for the past year. But blogging is nothing compared to this year’s top priority — remembering to zip.

You read that correctly. Over the past year or so, I’ve developed a terrible habit of forgetting to zip my fly. This happens in the morning, when I put my pants on. It happens after using the restroom. Sometimes, I swear it happens after I’ve already corrected the issue. My girlfriend catches my fly down just about every day. She’s concerned my forgetfulness might lead to a lawsuit, but I don’t wear boxers, so I’m good there.

It’s to the point where I’m no longer embarrassed when I catch my fly down. I’ve admitted my problem at work and invited my co-workers to let me know what’s up, er, down whenever they notice. I’ve even picked up a number of stealthy moves that allow me to zip my pants in public without breaking stride. It’s all about creating a distraction — cover a sneeze with one hand, zip with the other. Done.

In 2011, I’m taking accountability for my zipper issues. Short of seeing a hypnotist, I’m willing to do anything, even if it means wearing button-up jeans or more sweatpants. Friends shouldn’t have to tell friends, “Hey, your fly is down and I’d much rather you keep everything properly contained.” Co-workers shouldn’t have to say, “Let’s have Miller sit this client meeting out. We can’t lose the account because he failed potty training.”

Curious — what are your New Year’s resolutions?

People Watching at the Renaissance Festival

Here’s the entrance to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, which just may be the finest people watching area in the Midwest.

You know what makes America great? We’re willing to funnel millions of dollars to put on a production that celebrates a history that isn’t even our own.

I spent my weekend at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, which evoked memories of my British Literature Before 1785 course in college. I’m not a fan of the Renaissance Era, but seem people are, as proven by the thousands who showed up this weekend wearing attire true to the era, despite 90-degree-plus heat. Now that’s dedication.

I make the point Ren Fest — as the regulars call it — isn’t much different than a Minnesota Vikings game, where men who haven’t exercised in decades wear Adrian Peterson jerseys as if they, too, play in the NFL. We all like to play dress-up, it seems. Some just can’t wait for Halloween.

Ren Fest is, as my mother would say, culture. So, there were hundreds of young couples bringing their children out to expose them to hecklers, jesters, maidens and knights. I saw a lot of this:

I’m a bit of a pyro, so anyone who toys with fire without incinerating themselves is pretty cool in my books. For instance:

The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is going on every weekend up to October. If you want to see what it’s all about — or you just want to drink supreme brew from a wooden mug — wait until late September when it cools down. Bring a camera, too.

Please Help a Guy Get an Internship

This will be the first, last and only reference to the 2000 U.S. presidential election.

Starting tomorrow at 8 a.m. CDT, Facebook users will have the opportunity to decide the next summer intern for Fast Horse Inc. in Minneapolis, Minn. I’m among three finalists, and this position equates to a dream internship, so I’m hoping you, dear reader, could mosey on over to this page and vote for yours truly. But before you do, here’s the rules:

  1. You must “Like” The Fast Horse Experience before you can vote.
  2. A vote is counted in the form of a “Like.” My video cover letter will be posted along with the other two finalists. To vote, simply “Like” the video. It’s that easy.
  3. Voting closes at 5 p.m. CDT on Friday.

You won’t need to submit: An e-mail address, your mailing address, your average yearly income, your first-born child, any amount of money. This contest is cut and dry. The nature is simple: If you’re so good at marketing, you should be able to hype yourself. So, here I am.

If you really want to help me out, please add me on Facebook. I’m sending out a mass message later on today with directions on how to vote. Also, throughout the week, I’ll be regularly updating my status to remind people. You could also supply me with your e-mail address if you would be interested in sending out a forward. (Just leave that in the comments or e-mail me at atmiller14@gmail.com)

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Why Are My Towels So Foul?

Let me get this straight: To clean a towel, it’s put into a machine full of water and soap and swished around 40 minutes. Then, it’s put into another machine where it’s dried for another 40 minutes. At the end of this, the towel is fresh and clean.

A little more: When I shower, I use water and soap. I used the towel to dry off, then promptly hang it in the bathroom where it’s left to dry. Hours later, the towel smells like it was used to clean the lower deck of a pirate ship.

What went wrong?

I shower a good two times per day. It’s my way of staying clean and wasting the local water supply. Plus, each shower is warranted. Shower No. 1 acts as a wake-up call, where Shower No. 2 follows a gym workout. My showers are purposeful — not Patrick Bateman-purposeful, but of necessity. I need them. And you should be happy I take them.

My towels are not happy, though. My towels have become foul. You’re probably thinking, “Well, it’s probably mildew.” Mil-don’t. That makes no sense and I won’t have any of it. Keep your fancy science to yourself, nerd.

This problem — through no fault of my own — goes back to my freshman year in the dorms. Laundry costed about $10, but so did a 12-pack of Rolling Rock. I kept four towels in rotation, and if I used each towel for a week, I could save my laundry until I made a trip back home where it was free.

For each towel, fourteen uses before it hits the laundry machine. That seems reasonable, doesn’t it? Reasonable to me, anyway, but I’ve met people who change bed sheets every few days. Not I. I’ve never owned more than one pair of bed sheets. That’s not my definition of luxury.

Luxury, to me, would be towels that were indiscriminate about how and when they were coming in contact with water and soap. I want my towels to take on some of the same properties as, say, baking soda. Baking soda could spend its lifetime in a fridge full of rotting leftovers and do nothing but freshen the fridge up. Baking soda wouldn’t take on the odor itself. Rather, baking soda would benefit the fridge with its presence alone. High five, baking soda.

Here’s what’s not going to happen:

  1. I will shower less.
  2. I will wash my towels more frequently.

Here’s what may need to happen:

  1. I need to buy better towels.
  2. I need to study this “mildew” nonsense.

I realize this is one of those dirty, little facts we generally keep to ourselves. However, I can’t imagine I’m alone on this one. Under the cloak of anonymity, please tell me your towel-washing timetable. Is mine completely wrong?

Need a New URL — Help a Guy Out

I feel it’s time I drop the “wordpress.com” from my blog’s URL. This is one of those whorish branding/marketing decisions I get a little freaked out by, but it’s probably necessary for the future of The Miller Times.

On Monday, I’m going to be appearing on WNSR 560AM Nashville SportsRadio to discuss high school basketball recruiting with Henry Nichols and Jeff Thurn, who host Sports Xtra. Rather than force these poor lads to say, “Visit Andrew’s blog at http://www.andrewtmiller.wordpress.com,” I’m making the decision to tighten things up now.

More obvious choices like http://www.themillertimes.com or http://www.andrewtmiller.com are way out of my price range. Those listed in the poll are about $12 per year. I’m leaving this choice up to you guys:

Much appreciated.

I Know Mortgage is Scary, But…

Have you seen these ads for LowerMyBills.com? They’re everywhere on the Internet, and they’re awesome.

I don’t know much about mortgage or APRs or even if 3.62 percent is good or bad. But I’m given the impression all of this is bad news based on the look I’m given by fella to the right.

This one deserves a CAPTION CONTEST! What was going through old dude’s mind when this photo was taken?

My entry: “Oh, that wasn’t a fart…”

Have at it, folks.

Causes for Concern

Downtown Portland is overrun with clipboard-carrying, young bleeding-heart liberals who try to stop every passerby to earn a financial commitment for the charity they work for. Greenpeace. Amnesty International. International Children’s Fund. You name it, these bright-eyed pups think you should pay up.

I usually take the MAX right on past all the shark-infested corners, but it was ridiculously nice out Friday after work, so I walked about six blocks before hopping on. Big mistake.

I was stopped by a young girl who — OK, let me stereotype, because you’re never going to meet her. She was probably 18. She had probably done shrooms at multiple Dave Matthews Band concerts and described each experience as “an awakening.” Vegan. Didn’t believe in make-up, although she didn’t appear to need it. She wore a beanie, and she looked the type to always wear a beanie, no matter the temperature or situation. She thought, without a shard of doubt, that she was saving the world by hawking financial commitments to orphans in South Africa.

(I mean, my judgments aren’t entirely misinformed. Take a gander at the Greenpeace Street Fundraisers Facebook page. Click through the pictures. Yeah, that’s a pretty good depiction of all street fundraisers, no matter the charity.)

Normally, I wouldn’t have stopped, but I didn’t have my iPhone earbuds in. Earbuds shield you from 98.9 percent of all nonsense that takes place around you, be it money-seeking charity workers, hobos or the street drummer who’s rhythmically impaired. I was screwed.

“OK, I’ll let you give me your spiel,” I said.

Did she ever. She laid it on thick. She, of course, had photos of malnourished South African children with pathetic facial expressions that could break the hardest of hearts. She worked the math, made $100 per month equate to something like two cents per hour. This girl had been trained, and well. Her overwhelming compassion wrapped around me like a noose, and Andrew 2008 — the one who was terrified of confrontation or conflict — may have said, “OK, take my money.”

Not I.

“You know, I just can’t make the financial commitment right now,” I said, thinking that would be enough.

Nope.

“OK, tell me why you can’t give,” she said.

Had she not heard me? No, she had. But the answer didn’t seem good enough.

“No, really, why won’t you give to these children?” she asked.

She had clearly missed her calling as an interrogator for the Department of Homeland Security. (She was probably unwilling to work for The Man.)

“I have to have a reason why I won’t give? Doesn’t that contradict what charity is?” I asked.

By now, I was seething. I was offended by her guile and utter lack of common sense. I know these charity workers answer the craigslist.org ad, endure boot camp for solicitors and probably deal with a lot of rude people day-to-day. But here, she was completely undermining the spirit of charity. Charity is about willful giving, not coercion.

I wanted to ask her, “How good would I feel about giving money now that I feel I’ve been forced to?” I came up with that zinger roughly 51 hours after our stand-off. I hate how that happens.

I ended up just walking away. She wasn’t going to hear me, and, ironically, I needed to get to the bank before it closed. I was going to open a savings account and a secured credit card to help boost my credit rating. These were both perfectly honorable things on my part, but they felt dirty and devalued after being ambushed by the clipboard bandit and her third-world orphans.

Maybe that’s what it’s come to in Portland — either you’re part of the solution or you’re an asshole.