Sunday, October 24, 2010

Holiday Road

I've been on vacation this past week. Not having the money to go anywhere, I decided to stay in town and get things done. At the beginning of the week I put together a list of stuff I wanted to accomplish. Here's how it went:

GOAL #1 - Finish CD Ripping Project

Background: A year ago I bought a new 160gb iPod. Having lost all my music in the Great Hard Drive Crash of 2007, I had to start from scratch last year and rerip my entire collection. I didn't really mind; this way I could rip everything as high quality mp3s so anyone who wanted to "borrow" my music could. It's been a year since I started this project and I was only up to Led Zeppelin. I wanted to get to at least Bruce Springsteen by the end of my vacation.

Result: Yeah, that didn't happen. For one thing, it takes a lot of time to rip music. And when you're talking about an average of five minutes per disc, I just didn't have the time to sit there and continue switching out CDs. I did make a solid dent though, ripping about 100 discs throughout the week. I'm currently midway through my John Mellencamp collection.

GOAL #2 - Spend Time with Friends

Background: Not much explanation here. I wanted to spend time with a few people I hadn't seen in awhile.

Result: This was pretty much a success. I saw a play with one friend, met two separate friends for lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday, had dinner with another friend on Monday, and went to Columbus, Ohio, on Friday to see Roger Waters with yet another group of friends. In other words, it was fun, but I'm broke now. (But it was all worth it.)

GOAL #3 - Clean the House

Background: While I keep my house picked up, just a cursory look at all the cobwebs tips you off to the fact that in reality my house is pretty filthy.

Result: This didn't happen at all. In my defense, I was on vacation. Who wants to clean their house when they're supposed to be relaxing? The cobwebs can wait.

GOAL #4 - Naps

Background: I'm tired.

Result: This goal was met with resounding success.

GOAL #5 - See Films at the Heartland Film Festival

Background: Last week was the annual Heartland Film Festival. I had at least four films I wanted to catch throughout the week.

Result: Didn't go to any of them. Meeting my friends interfered with some of the scheduled show times. That was fine with me, since I preferred seeing my friends. Also, the films I wanted to go to all got mediocre or terrible reviews, so the idea of spending $10 just to see something bad turned me off. The films are now on my massive "To See" list, so I'll get to them eventually.

GOAL #6 - Update the Resume

Background: It's time.

Result: Didn't do it. Thought hard about it, but decided to wait. I'm on the fence about where I want to take my career next and I don't want to update my resume unless I'm really serious about looking for a new job. And in this economy, that's not a great idea.

All in all, it was a pretty decent vacation and I'm already dreading going back to work tomorrow. Oh, well, I have another week off in mid-December, so the things I didn't get done can wait until then.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Big, The Tall, The Ugly

I've been on vacation all week long and one of my goals was to buy new work shoes. I know that doesn't sound very exciting, but when you wear a size 14 like I do, buying new shoes is always a chore.

Until now.

For whatever reason, I thought I'd try the big and tall store this time. They cater to the big. Why wouldn't they have big shoes?

And they did! No longer will I have to cram my feet into size 13 shoes, compromising comfort while telling myself, "They'll stretch out eventually." I'm happy with my new shoes, even if they're Hush Puppies, a brand I have always associated with my grandfather and being old.

Now, here's where the story turns dark. Look, I'm not a thin guy. I know this. But I used to be bigger. And I used to have to shop for clothes at stores like this one and each time I did, a piece of me died. Thank God I started going to the gym years ago and have since been able to buy all my clothes - sans shoes - at regular retail stores. Because I always get pissed off whenever I see the clothes that large guys get to choose from.

Lots of loud prints. T-shirts with phrases like "Big Dog" and "Extra Wide" printed on them. Polo shirts with horizontal stripes. Shirts that look like they have been sitting on the shelf since 1972. Shirts made of that weird stretchy fabric that supposedly breathes but instead looks like a large dish cloth. Elastic. Lots and lots of elastic. It's downright embarrassing.

Sad thing is, it's easy to fix this. There's no need for the plus-size men in our society to look terrible. First of all, shirts: There needs to be a lot of cotton button-down options in solid colors and in patterns that don't look like Miami exploded. Also, the whole fat-men-in-polo-shirt stand-by needs to go. No one looks good in a polo shirt. No one. If you want to be comfortable, wear a t-shirt. Oh, and get rid of those degrading slogans on the t-shirts they do sell. Fat people don't like to wear signs indirectly calling them fat.

Now, pants: Get rid of anything elastic. Pretty much all khaki pant makers have figured out a way to elongate the waistline without using elastic. Why not use this technique on jeans and shorts as well? Also, I used to have to wear bigger pants and absolutely none of them fit right, always sagging down. Fat men don't have waists. But there has to be a way to make it look like every single person wearing a pants size higher than 46 didn't just drop a load in their shorts. It's embarrassing.

Finally, suits. A classic black or blue sport jacket will do just fine. The only person who should wear a printed sport jacket is Herb Tarlek at WKRP.

And get a load at how much these items cost: The degrading t-shirts: $35. The horrible work shirts: $60. The polo shirts: $40. Khaki pants: $65. Jeans: $50. I know it takes more material to make these items, but damn.

Look, I'm no fashion expert. As I'm writing this I'm wearing blue jeans that are ripped to shreds and a button-down shirt that barely covers my slowly-expanding gut. (Note to self: Get back on a regular gym schedule or else you'll be shopping at the big and tall again.) But at least these items didn't make me look foolish the day I bought them. Oh, sure, now they probably do, but when they were new they didn't. I just think that because you're plus-sized doesn't mean you should look like a doofus.

I'd open up my own big and tall store just to give these guys options, but I know nothing about the business and it would ultimately fail. Plus I'm afraid I'd turn into Thorton Mellon, Rodney Dangerfield's character from Back to School. And no one wants that.