Five Weird Habits

Monday, March 05, 2007

I'm pressed for time and not in the mood to write anything substantive anyway, so I'll pick up a meme I recall spotting a few weeks ago over at the blog of one of Raymund's friends.

The title says it all.

(And blogging doesn't count!)

1. During the cooler parts of the year, I build up astounding amounts of static electricity as I walk around. More so as I drive. To keep myself from getting shocked, I will grab a key in my hand and touch it to something metal, watching the spark jump harmlessly from its tip. Otherwise, I will get a nasty shock as my finger (and sometimes my hand) moves on its own. Very unpleasant.

This is situational when I am on foot, but it is a winter habit when I get out of my car. (And yet from time to time, I will still get jolted on my calf if I stick my leg out of the car too quickly.)

2. The first thing I do in the morning is draw the blinds up so my cat Jerome can enjoy the sunshine from on top of my wife's dresser. You can see the cat, the dresser, and the window here. Jerome is the one on the left. He's 18 and pretty healthy for his age.

3. I hate unplanned telephone conversations so much that when I am home, I almost always have my wife answer the phone. Fortunately, she doesn't mind and even thinks it's kinda cute.

I'm one damned lucky curmudgeon.

Actually, I hate telephones in general. I have her do the calling for such things as ordering pizza, too!

4. As a sort of running joke, I email my slightly younger brother a new sign of increased physical decrepitude he can look forward to each year on his birthday. My favorite: "old man noises".

Hmmm. Come to think of it, I have another email to write soon!

5. I will go to great lengths to avoid big social gatherings I am not ready for. I once forgot about some contrived holiday snackfest my large employer was putting on, only to learn about it from a friendly acquaintance on my way back from lunch.

She, "Are you going to get some cookies and punch?"

I, pretending to be joking and doing my best expression of mock horror (which was easy), "No!"

I then went about a quarter mile out of my way to use another entrance to the building so I could ascend the elevators undetected.

(And: Chocolate fountains? Ick! That room reeked of sugar hours later.)

Honestly, that was one I would have dodged anyway, but being unready for it sounded especially unappealing to this not-wild-about-sweets introvert.

I normally don't tag people with memes, but if Raymund violates his one week rule, I will tag him with this one.

-- CAV


Jim May said...

I do the same things to discharge static, except instead of using a key (which can scratch surfaces, isn't always handy, and often gets bypassed anyway... static is a funny thing), I use my knuckles, which aren't so sensitive as the fingertips. After several years of life in the dry Southwest (Las Vegas and Los Angeles), where static is a daily fact of life year-round, I automatically knuckle visible metal surfaces indoors, everywhere I go.

Static doesn't accumulate in the car until you get out, btw... it's the sliding against the seating material that does that. During Santa Ana conditions (dry desert winds), I get enough of a charge disembarking from the Honda to occasionally blast right through my leather jacket.

Resident Egoist said...

Hey Gus, if you think getting shocked on your fingers is annoying, how about getting shocked in your ears. I bought this Jacket from Columbia Sportswear recently, and a few weeks ago, I lived in complete terror of using my MP3 player while wearing it: it would shock me every once in a while through my earphones when I put the thing in my pocket. Not fun!

As for telephones, I don't hate "unplanned" conversations as much as I do pointless ones. I really have a hard time staying on the phone beyond five minutes doing nothing but "small talk". How other people manage to do it is somewhat of a mystery to me: my sister could stay on the phone for hours ... seriously: HOURS!

The only phone I pick up is my cell -- which is easy to screen. Never the home phone. If someone else is there I'll let them pick up; and if not, I'll just let it ring: the person can always leave a message.

Gus Van Horn said...


Interesting that your Honda gives you -- erm -- such a charge! My biggest problems WRT static have come from getting out of those. (And the leg shocks go right through jeans, too.) The knuckle trick is worth trying. It's cool enough today (or at least it was this morning) that I might be able to give it a try.

Worst shock ever? My wife and I shared a very nasty one kissing. It felt about like getting cut on the lip. I am always sure to ground myself, as an act of chivalry, before kissing her now!


Your point on unnecessary phone conversations is a very good one. Unplanned doesn't always annoy me quite as much as pointless. (It's a toss-up to me between whether the "conversation with someone I'm going to see anyway in five minutes" or the "call that could have been avoided with five seconds of independent thought" or the "all banalities/small-talk conversation" is most annoying.)

What I think is most annoying about the phone is that you can't do much of anything else when you're on one, so if the conversation isn't a good one or at least necessary, it is a tremendous waste of time.


Adrian Hester said...

Hmm, five weird habits. Can I include weird habits I used to have? If so, the first weird habit would be back when I was four years old or so, lasting until I was about six: I would sit there for four or five minutes at a time repeating the sound "rrrr." Something about it fascinated me, probably the way I scrunched up my tongue in the middle of my mouth.

Second, I often babble nonsense to my cat and give him silly nicknames, like "Monster Foo-Foo Trilsby Kitty" or "Tap-the-nose Goofster Cat," which latter comes from what he likes to do to get fed in the morning; this is in addition to his large collection of official names. (One of his weird habits is that he loves to try to climb up the shower door to perch on the rail the door slides in. When I'm getting ready to shower in the morning he starts meowing, trilling, and scratching lightly on the shower door, and if I take mercy on him and put him up there on top of the rail he will sit there for most of the shower tapping me on the top of the head and licking the water off his paw.)

Third, I often find myself humming any one of three motifs, and even though I stop immediately since it irritates me, a few minutes later I'll find I'm doing it again. (One of them is the catchy theme from Kodaly's Hary Janos suite, another is the really simple motif from the last movement of Sibelius' Third Symphony. Neither sounds good out of context, and they're abominable if I hum them. The identity of the third I'm not sure of.)

Fourth, I find it very difficult to step out in front of a car at an intersection even if I have the right of way and usually go out of my way to walk behind a stopped car, which probably makes some drivers fear that I'm about to carjack them. But then I'm very uncomfortable putting myself in a situation where a foot slipping off a pedal could cripple me.

Fifth, I like to pronounce common Spanish phrases as if they were English words with a thick Texas accent. It's fun to greet someone, "HOE-la, kwee PASS-uh, as we say in Texas." It's especially fun when the other person is just the sort of snooty NPR listener who pronounces every Spanish word, even country names, as if he's from Madrid. (And of course such people often have the irritating habit on top of that of pronouncing every Latin name as if it were Castilian, even when it's a Catalan name like Joan Miro or Alberto Ginastera or a Portuguese name like Heitor Villa-Lobos. Talk about unthinking second-hand cultural imperialism!)

Gus Van Horn said...

Or, as we do in Texas, talk about Pin-dee-Joes!

And say, "Exactly!" when the NPR types correct us.

Jim May said...

Interesting that your Honda gives you -- erm -- such a charge!

Especially since it's a hybrid :D

In addition to knuckling, I also try to remember to reach out and grab the sheetmetal right outside the doorframe *before* I start to disembark, and stay in contact until I'm done.

Regarding phone conversations, I once inadvertently hung up on a phone call at the office when I slid around in my chair and zapped the mouthpiece with a static charge off my bottom lip. It crashed the phone, and after I briefly disconnected the cord to reboot it, I called back my producer with whom I'd been talking... he said he'd simply heard a loud SNAP and I was gone. He said it sounded like I'd been shot.

Adrian H.: I have lived in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, so you aren't the only one walking behind cars. Not only do I make less of an obstacle of myself as a courtesy to drivers, it also makes me less of a target.

Gus Van Horn said...

Jim, That phone-shocking story is a good one!

Also, I was in a hurry when I replied to Adrian's last comment and his part about walking behind cars didn't completely register. I do that a little bit, but not so much for safety reasons as for mild annoyance. If it's some one-lane road without traffic, why should the fast car sit there and wait for the slow pedestrian? I usually walk behind (or make an obvious maneuver to trick the driver into thinking I will continue along the street rather than cross it until he has driven by. Then I cross. He gets where he's going faster and I don't feel like I'm imposing. Yeah. I know. I'm a strange bird.