RW38 - Sparkles

This week, Dan and John talk about

The show title refers to sprinkles, little multi-colors things that you put on top of your ice cream. John calls them Sparkles.

John had some Dim Sum for lunch with his Punk Rock friends. He got a little bit of MSG and is feeling a little confused, but strong.

John got a new cable for his microphone and he is using an ethernet-setup instead of WiFi.

This episode featured the guitar ending.

Draft version
The segments below are drafts that will be incorporated into the rest of the Wiki as time permits.

John’s coffee creamer is curdling (RW38)

John has a Keurig coffee maker in his office. He does like a little bit of cream in his coffee, but he doesn’t have a refrigerator, so he bought a crate of those little mini Half & Half things, the sealed kind you get at a restaurant. The last couple of them had some clumping and he is not sure whether that is the result of the natural emulsification of a thing that has been processed as highly in order to sit on a shelf, or whether there is a shelf-life for these things and John has exceeded it. He does not like clumping in his coffee! The crate is a couple of months old and it should survive that! Dan wonders if what John is seeing there is called curdling. His understanding of milk and milk products is that as milk ages, its acidity rises and if you put something acidic into something hot, it will actually cause the curdling. It doesn’t mean it is off or bad, but it simply means that it got a little age on it. John doesn’t know if it tastes bad, because his window of taste is much wider than what he is willing to endure. The test is going to be if it is already junky when it is pouring out of the container or if it is turning chunky once it hits the coffee. Turning Junkie is a good name for a band or an album cover, as opposed to Clumping Cream. Or maybe Clumping Cream is the band name and their album is Turning Junkie, opening for Lenny Kravitz on his Virginia, North- and South Carolina dates, just a regional opener.

Butter coffee (RW38)

Dan had lunch in a new place around the corner from the studio, a gluten free Paleo-type restaurant. He got the meat loaf and it was really good. The place is famous for one of John’s favorite beverages of all time next to the LaCroix, which is Butter Coffee. You put butter and coffee in a thing, you don’t even need to put a third thing in there. Dan says that the third thing would be MCT oil, which activates the anti-oxidants. There are people who just put butter in their coffee, but that is not the same thing. If you want to do butter-coffee the right way, you have to use that little milk frother, a little blender that fits into the mug. Dan’s wife got one of those to make one of the kid's smoothies 5 years ago and apparently it made all the difference. You put gras-fed butter in and you add MCT oil. Dan didn’t feel any of the promised extra benefits, like feeling stronger. It didn’t do anything more than a regular cup of coffee, but it tasted like there was butter in it, which isn’t necessarily bad.

Affogato (RW38)

John recommends is a concoction called the Affogato. Dan has only heard of Avogadro’s number. An Affogato is a double shot of espresso poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It really is wonderful and John sometimes even does two double shots of espresso over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It has all the benefits of butter coffee, whatever these doubtful benefits are, it has the benefits of coffee, the benefits of butter, but also the benefits of ice cream which John can’t even begin to catalog. John has recently been in a dinner situation in San Francisco where a super-duper nice tech-rich-guy was vibing him pretty hard in that way that super-rich guys vibe other guys who are maybe bigger, smarter and better than they are. Everybody ordered their fancy drink, some of them had alcohol, some of them had ice cubes the size of a major league baseball, some of them were mixed, some had smoke coming off of them and all the top-shelf liquor! John ordered an Affogato. The waiter knew, but it is not a thing that everybody knows and no-one else at the table knew. The waiter and John had a little bit of a ”Mmmhm”, John was drumming his fingers and he got subtly dissed by this guy all the time by how nice he has been. When the drinks came, John might as well have pulled a Derringer out of his boot and put it on the table, in terms of upping the ante to a Trump-level ”Fuck you!” Everybody on the table was like ”What the fuck is that?” They were all paying $17 for their drinks, but John’s drink is the one they are all curious about. "What do you mean? It is an Affogato!"

Sometimes it is served in a little pitcher because it melts the top layer of the ice cream instantly when you pour it in. It becomes perfectly melty, but it is still ice cream in there. You got a little espresso stir spoon, but you can’t sit there, stare at it and eat it like a Sundae. Instead you have to sit with the little spoon going ”tink tink” on the side of your glass while you are talking about art or politics. It is considered one drink, not a combination of coffee and ice cream. Affogato is Italian for ”drowned”, because you effectively drown everyone else at the table with your massive wave of over-cool. When you don't drink alcohol and you go to a fancy bar with a bunch of fancy people, and they are all doing their alcohol thing, trying to be cigar-aficionado-magazine-level fucking puds about their booze, what can you do? You can order an Arnold Palmer, or in John’s case you can order a Fruity Pleaser. If John is feeling punk, he just gets a cup of coffee, because nobody can touch a cup of coffee. When you are sitting there drinking an Arnold Palmer you often feel a little bit like you are at the kiddie table. You are on the Merry-go-round on the little zebra that is going up and down while everybody else is sitting in the sleighs, because they are too cool to be on the Merry-go-round. You need something in your back pocket when it is time to bring the A-game and the Affogato is it.

Fruity Pleaser (RW38)

Dan cannot find any reference to a Fruity Pleaser on the internet except in the context of John and his other show. When John started working at a Rock Club in Seattle in the very early 1990s he had just quit drinking. He was bloated and he kept getting arrested, so he was done with booze. John did not lump other drugs in with alcohol at that point. Drugs have never been a problem, because they didn't make him bloated and they never got him arrested, but the problem was just the booze. Whenever John would get frustrated while working at this bar where everybody else got drunk and was trying to kill themselves with booze and drugs, he would put that energy into doing drugs. As that year wore on, he started using more and more drugs, more than he had done before and more than he expected he would. At a certain point 1,5 years later, he was just on drugs, which was a bad scene and at one point he made the inarguable conclusion that if he would be on drugs like this, why wouldn’t he just get drunk? It is cheaper and drugs are not any better than being drunk, so John started drinking again.

At that point he had been fired from the job at the bar, but he knew everybody who worked there and he started to go into the bar. They couldn’t turn him away although he didn’t really have any money. His friend Jeff, the bartender would ply him with drinks by tithing, basically. It was a very busy bar that was making money hand over fist. There were people sitting at the bar, there was a second row of people screaming at the bartender trying to get a drink, and there was a third row of people trying to scream over the shoulders of the second row of people. They couldn’t have had the music any louder in there, but the screaming of the hordes was still drowning The Slayer out.

John was sitting at that bar, head down, clour (?) on his face, and he was getting drunk on the free booze that was being paid for by the owner of the bar who had fired him. Jeff was an exceptionally competent bartender. He wasn’t a very tall guy, but he commanded the room with his implacable no-nonsenseness. He was like ”You! You! You!”, he was taking orders, building drinks, throwing them out. Everybody was out of line in that place, but if anybody was over-over the line, he was just like ”You! Out!” and 80% of the people, even the bad people, were like ”Oh, sorry” and they left. He had an utility-belt with a flashlight, a knife and a collapsible baton, and if anybody confronted him or came up to him on the street at night after he was leaving work, he would turn that 6-8 inches long thing into a weapon of war. He was a bad-ass!

The problem was that when John started drinking again, it didn’t actually decrease his drug-use, so now he was in a bit of a pickle, because he was on drugs and also drunk and also had no money. There was a pretty rapid plummet which resulted in John doing neither drugs nor alcohol, but he still really loved his friend Jeff the bartender. He wanted to continue visiting him, because he had already lost a lot of his drug friends when he got cleaned up. Jeff was a stoner, but John didn’t like him because he wanted to get high or because he gave him drinks, but John just liked him. He would go visit him and would sit at the end of this bar where all this mania was still happening, but now John was sober and Jeff would come over and talk to John when he had a break. Eventually Jeff said that John was a man of discernment and couldn’t just come in here and drink coke, so he cooked up a concoction that he put in front of John and told him that it was like a Fruity Pleaser. After that John would go in, sit down at the bar and Jeff would ask ”Fruity Pleaser?” and John would say ”Fruity Pleaser!” and it was a fun thing for them, maybe just as fun for Jeff than it was for John.

Jeff was a very popular bartender in Seattle and he later opened his own bar, called the Dexter and Hayes, where John continued to visit him. The bar they had originally met was one of those spawn bars or seed bars and every person who worked there eventually went on to work somewhere else in Seattle, either in a different bar or a different side of the entertainment business. A couple of bartenders had learned the Fruity Pleaser from Jeff and associated it with John. Those people went out into the world and started their own bars or became bartenders at other restaurants, meaning that there was a constellation of places where John could walk in and the bartender would say ”Hey! One Fruity Pleaser coming up!” It doesn’t take long before all of your friends know what you drink and when you walk into a bar where you don’t know the bartender, but your friend is there with you, they would order a Fruity Pleaser for you and see what happens. Gradually there was at least a small group of bars and restaurants within Seattle where you could order a Fruity Pleaser. It became somewhat disassociated from John in that there were a lot of bartenders who know how to make one, but didn’t know that it had any connection to John. He has never seen it on a menu, but it is possible that if people ask for a cool non-alcoholic cocktail and the bartender will give them a Fruity Pleaser.

Fluffernutter (RW38)

Dan is a bit upset that John doesn’t know what goes in a Fruity Pleaser, because John wouldn’t try out a Fluffernutter because of its ingredients, but he will just blindly drink whatever is in that drink. John argues that Jeff is a drink-making professional person, whereas Dan is just a dingeling with a loaf of bread and some candy corn, but Dan counters that he didn’t invent the Fluffernutter, but it is a generations old tradition of the North East of this country. John didn’t invent the peanut-butter bacon and banana sandwich either, but he still won’t have one of those because he is not insane. John has smoked banana peals and peanut skins, but he won’t try a well-known sandwich. A third of the people in America, both at the time when they record this or when people listen to this, is eating a Fluffernutter right now.

Some of their wag listeners sent John the ingredients of a Fluffernutter and it is sitting on John’s desk right there. His hand is on a jar of Kraft Jet-Puffed Marshmallow cream with the tag-line ”Have fun with your yum!” and on top of that is a jar of Justin’s Classic Peanut Butter, all natural. The jar of marshmallow cream is lighter than air and feels like it is empty. This stuff is just repulsive! It also says ”Do not microwave in jar”, surely because it would turn molten hot and then the entire thing would collapse, because the marshmallow cream and the plastic of the jar are indistinguishable from one another. Obviously John is okay with peanut-butter and he will eat a S'more all day. Dan suspects that the only reason John does not try it is because he knows that it bothers Dan. Had a Fluffernutter contained a bar of Hershey’s chocolate, we might be on a different game. As a gateway, Dan suggests that John should put a bit of chocolate syrup on it, or put it into a mug and pour some coffee over it, put butter or ice cream in there, whatever! Dan just wants John to try it.

Regionalisms in American dialect (RW38)

Dan pronounced Syrup correctly as ”sirap”, which probably is a regionalism. John says it like ”stirup”. Dan knows about his obvious Philadelphiaisms like ”mirror”, ”down there”, and stuff that he still can’t shake unless he is really conscious of it. John calls the fizzy drink for pop, but Dan has never said pop in his entire life. Some people say coke even if they don’t mean coke. John loves those conversations and he is even going to have it with Dan again although every listener will be aware of the Coke / Pop / Soda issue at this point, except for all the people in Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Denmark who listen to this program. What has been pointed out to John lately is that he says ”airbuddy” instead of everybody which is suggested to be a kind of drawl, like a Southern drawl, but John hears it in the Pacific Northwest all the time from native people who do not have any other kind of drawl in their language. John does not have any kind of drawl or a slurry Southern diction either, but ”airbuddy” is just natural to him. He also says ”cumin” instead of ”coming”, which feels very Northwestern. John’s theory is that the English language, as it has moved around the world and as it has gone further and further from its origin point, has through the process of distillation become more and more perfect. The language has gone through the charcoal of the Americas and all the impurities have been separated.

All of their listeners in the antipodes are now going to say that they are very far away, but they are in fact not as far away as Seattle and Alaska. Australia and New Zealand were settled by people from the British islands many moons ago and they maintained that close connection to the UK until very recent times. Those languages are the most insanely in-bread of all the Englishes, because in this reciprocating back and forth with the UK, the stuff gets garbled in the holds of all those creaky wooden ships. We have heard those people put shrimps on the barbie, and although these accents are quite melodious and not hard to understand, it is almost impossible to grasp how they can really consider that sing-songy merry hobbit pronunciation to be an authentic language. It just seems too jolly, like they are nations of leprechauns.

Alaskans and Seattleites on the other hand have a very serious-minded language that comes born out of a frontier spirit. They had to cross the Rocky Mountains and those naked grass-covered plains, they had to fight Indians and Buffalo to settle these wide lands. As a result their language, their accent and their diction are no-nonsense and honed to the actual diamond-tip of English. It is John’s contention that he has what can only be described as a perfect accent of English. Newscasters, radio personalities and Hollywood film stars from the 1930s and 1940s all spoke with that weird Mid-Atlantic affectation of East Coast aristocracy, but they dropped all that when they realized that it was truly the Western language that was the clearest and the purest. John cannot imagine a clearer version of the language and he believes that ”airbuddy” is the direction we are all headed.

Dan has heard John say things like ”y’all”, because if you distil the language it doesn’t say that it excludes the Southern influence, in fact John will often say that he will put a shrimp on the barbie, that is what is so great about the Alaskan dialect: It takes all Englishes into account. He will even say ”Surry” every once in a while as a tip of the hat to his Canadian friends. They should have ”Surry” under the Maple leave on their flag, and about half the time they do even mean it. Sorry is the social glue that holds Canada together and Americans could adapt a bit more of that. Dan made a quick list of some other regionalisms and he is curious to know if John even knows what they are. Dan spelled it and John said it:

  • CRAYON, John says that like a sane, rational human. Other people call it crown or cran (like cranberry).
  • Jimmies? They are Chevy Blazers, which is correct, but that is not the kind of Jimmy Dan is talking about, neither is it his penis. In Philadelphia it is what others would call Sprinkles. John calls them Sparkles. Multi-colored, sugary things. They are sparkles because they make your ice cream, donut or mayonnaise sparkle.

It is interesting to John that sparkles play such an important role in Philadelphia culture that they have their own name for them. In the North Eastern US, Jimmies are only used on ice cream. On a donut or any kind of confection-baked goods they will put sprinkles, but there is no difference in quality. John has been trying to get people to call sprinkles sparkles for 10 years, just by insisting that they are sparkles, but he has done it so long that he legitimately forgot that it was something he was doing. Nobody every corrects him, everybody understands what he is talking about and now he is probably going to inflict that on his daughter. In the further conversation, even Dan was starting to call them sparkles.

Annie Sprinkle (RW38)

John’s friend Annie Sprinkle, who was a porn star in the 1970s, was an early adopter, perhaps the first porn star to adopt a feminist pro-sex critical mentality about the work she was doing. She had a very voluptuous figure and she had a great sense of humor, so she started to inject this very humorous, but also critically rigorous critique of porn into porn culture. She is still alive and still doing great work in her field. She never became nationally known, because this was in an era before sex-positivism and porn-positivism, where you didn’t talk about this outside of a prurient interest. Nowadays, she would and probably should be thought of as a pioneer, but at the time she was a fringe figure. John was a fan of her mind. She wasn’t his porn-type, but she was funny and smart and he enjoyed her take on things. Annie Sprinkle was surely a stage name and a reference, but for John it kind of took the word ”Sprinkle” into a word he could not disassociate from the winking use of it as a surname. He could not say that he wanted Sprinkles on his donut, but he did want sparkles.

Donuts (RW38)

John wants a cake donut and not a dough donut. When they opened a Crispy Creams in Seattle 10 years ago there were lines around the block, but John had zero interest in them, because he doesn’t want to hear the word ”cream” when he is talking about a donut. He wants a cake donut with frosting and sparkles. If it is bread, he won’t eat it. If it is without frosting, he can’t imagine why you would make it, and if it doesn’t have sparkles, it is like a Fluffernutter with no peanut-butter. All three ingredients have to be present. If somebody orders two baker’s dozens of mixed donuts at one of those board meetings that John goes to and the box flings open, there will be all these donuts including two maple loafs or a big bear claw and a maple loaf, but nobody wants a maple loaf! John has never seen anybody eat one. It is the size of a sub-sandwich! How could you plow your way through one of these things? Everybody jumps into the donut box and John is like ”Don’t take the cake donut!”, because there is usually only one or two, but miraculously, no-one ever does. Everybody else wants these crazy fluffy-dough-buns, sugar-buns, and the cake-donut stands alone.

Even if John is last to the donut box, he usually gets the cake donut. It is like if somebody opens a box full of pennies and there is one gold doubloon and everybody is like ”Penniiiiiies!” and they take all the pennies and leave the gold doubloon. That is how it looks to John. It is one of those instances where his confusion and contempt for the mass or the mob is confirmed by the donut consumption. Everybody buys new cars and there are tens of thousands of people who think that they are down between the Mazda 626 and the Toyota Camry. The Camry gets better miles, but the 626 is a little sportier. What are you talking about? For that same amount of money, you could get a restored 1967 Dodge Coronet! You want sporty and you are talking about a Mazda 626? This thing has got a 426. John is out of step with America, because people are making decisions based on efficiency and reliability, which makes sense, but John cannot get onboard with it.

When John talks about a cake donut, Dan thinks about one of his favorite snacks as a kid, which was Entenmann’s miniature cake donuts with cake on the inside and dusted with white powdered sugar. They would be wrapped in a little bag and if you have them in your lunchbox the heat would liquify the powdered sugar in a nice way. John didn’t have Entenmann’s, a little container of mini powdered donuts is one of John’s all time favorite road-trip foods. He always felt guilty buying a big one of those, because of course you would eat the whole thing. When Dan was a kid, they eventually started selling them in bags and you would get that powder all over your shirt and your fingers. It is a wonderful experience! You don’t find those in donut shops exactly. John is looking for the chocolate cake donut with chocolate frosting and sparkles, every once in a while you see one with peanuts chopped on it, John will go that direction, too.

Why John doesn’t like potatoes (RW38)

Potatoes are just a granular grease delivery system. No matter how you cook potatoes or chop them or whatever, you can never fully get rid of the granularity and the dirt quality. Potatoes are basically just dirt. They are dirt that has been condensed and somewhat smoothed into a potato, but you can still taste the sand in it. No matter how you process a potato, the method always involves dipping it in hot grease or filling it with butter and sour-cream. You are either frying it in hot, dirty grease, or you are filling it full of grease. It just feels like dirt and grease to John. If he wants dirt and grease, there are so many better ways than a potato. No french fries! No potato chips!

Sweet and savory, having a bowl of ice cream (RW38)

Here is the funny thing about the sweet/savory axis: At breakfast, most people are just piling their plate with sweet, syrup-covered bread stuffs, sweet caramelized breakfast sausages and french toast, the weirdest of all foods, egg-dipped thick bread with syrup, butter and powdered sugar. It is a very strange food, although Dan finds it amazing and one of the best food ever! John wants to have savory for breakfast. He wants an omelet that is full of peppers, onions and Italian sausage, not breakfast sausage. It is unclear to John if he might be a super-taster, but he does have certain sensitivities. At night, when it is time to close out the day, he wants sweet, like ice cream or chocolate. If you are trying to give him a day-ending finale that is some kind of savory, like chips or a vegetable plate, he will be offended. Popcorn is fine, because that is its own category of food. Every successful day should culminate in a bowl of ice cream. If the day has gone poorly, it should culminate in a larger bowl of ice cream.

If you are currently on a health kick and eschew ice cream, then the inner satisfaction of knowing that you are better than everybody else is its own sweet reward. If you only ate 1200 cal of celery sticks all day, and you are not going to pollute the temple of your body with ice cream right now, it is like eating a big bowl of ice cream of righteousness. In every other situation however, if you are just being a normal person, you should have a bowl of ice cream at night. You should not have French toast in the morning. In the sweet/savory divide, John has to say that it is on an hour-to-hour basis. Dan is equally divided and doesn’t tend toward one or the other, but he doesn’t have as much sweets as most people he knows. If his kids have ice creams, he has a taste of it, but he can’t even remember the last time he had a bowl of ice cream. His kids eat ice cream almost every night. Dan does like a very dark chocolate, like 85% or more, but only occasional and only one or two pieces. He has never in his life eaten a full candy bar or chocolate bar. Never! It might take him a week to get through a chocolate bar. John feels mislead, because he thought Dan was a normal person who ate chocolate like a normal person in normal quantities, not putting a single square of chocolate in your mouth and let it melt for an hour. That feels a little over-sensual. Are you eating this chocolate or are you having sex with it?

John is not the kind of guy who will shove a bar of chocolate in his bowl of ice cream, because he doesn’t like his deserts to be mixed. Dan strongly suggests that John is a super-taster. John does want cake and ice cream, but he wants his ice cream in a bowl and his cake separately. He does eat ice-cream on the pie, even when the pie is heated with cold ice-cream, but that depends on the pie. The only pie John cares about is berry pie, not any apple pie, peach pie or cherry pie. He wants a raspberry pie, a blackberry pie or a blueberry pie. John is somewhat embarrassed by this, because if you put a piece of peach pie or apple pie or cherry pie in front of him, he might not eat it. Dan likes only one kind of pie and he will make an exception for a second kind of pie. The only pie he can tolerate is an apple pie, but if you want to heat it, you are probably going to ruin it. The Entenmann’s apple pie was a staple of Dan’s childhood. He used to eat it cold right out of the fridge and grew up liking it like that. They had no microwave, so what was he going to do? Toast it? He was 7! When he became an adult and he got warm apple pie with ice cream at his girlfriend’s house, he called them bonkers! Who puts ice cream on a pie? And the pie is warm? Now he has become accustomed to it and will eat it that way out of politeness, but he feels like a cold apple pie is the best. The kind of pie he will make an exception for is pecan pie. He will eat it, but they are usually too sweet for him.

John is embarrassed to say that he doesn’t like apple pie because there is the phrase ”As American as apple pie”. It is kind of peculiar that the only pie Dan likes is apple pie, but it is unimpeachable. Right out of the top of his hat unfolds an American flag and it starts playing the star-spangled banner. You can stare anybody in the world down with that. Apple! Boom! Like: Mic-drop! Then the person goes: Apple? Yeah, since I was 7, I never liked another pie! Do you want me to warm that up for you? No! And I’ll take my coffee black. And I am going to sit here at the table in this diner and clean my pistol. That is fucking tough! Cold apple pie and a cup of black coffee, and John is sitting across from Dan asking ”Do you have any berry pie?”, but half the time they don’t have that. No pie for him then!

John doesn’t like any cobbler either! A cobbler is somebody who fixes your shoes. Frankly, the word cobbler is just a little too close to cob nobbler and John doesn’t want a pie that is a cob-nobbler. Long before John even saw the detail of a cobbler, he turned his head away in horror. Dan finds a cobbler to be great, but it is either apple or peach. Peach is the worst, because it could visually almost pass as an apple pie when they lace it with the criss-cross of dough on top of it instead of having one sheet of crust. If you look at a peach one vs an apple one in the little case in the restaurant, you might think that they have some apple pie, but as you find out it is just peach, it is a slap in the face.

Outward Bound (RW38)

When John was a teenager, he was sent to Outward Bound. There were also kids who ”went” to it, but they were all in friendly groups who learned and sang songs with each other. Some groups were co-ed. John's group were fairly thuggish kids who had all been sent there. They were much older boys, some of them were escorted there by someone who worked for their state’s child protective services. They were all terrible bullies! John was the youngest and he learned how to keep his head down and how to defend himself when cornered. They raided the food bags and ate all the food while they were gone in the boundary waters of Canada for 2 weeks. They were canoeing from lake to lake and all that was left was rice, some rancid butter, some lentils that nobody knew how to cook, popcorn and all the blueberries that you could scavenge. There was a big bag of brown sugar, so John would live on blueberries, take a scoop of butter in his hand and then dip it in the brown sugar bag. He would just eat butter and brown sugar off his fingers, and go out in the woods to scavenge blueberries.

They had councillors with them, but they were useless. John was maybe 14, the other kids were 16, and their councillors were 24. They had been charged with the philosophy that these bad boys would become so desperate that they would become a team and learn how to work together, kind of like a corporate trust exercise. They would be starving to death in the wilderness and have to start pulling together! That was what they had been taught would happen, but they had no ability to make it happen. A lot of the people who go to NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) to become outdoor guides are outdoor people. They want to be outdoors, they learn outdoor skills and then they need to get a job because they can’t just work the rest of their life in a ski shop and they don’t want to be a lift attendant, so they get jobs as guides or rangers.

They are making a classic mistake: The primary job of a guide is to guide other people. They are not just supposed to be wild naturalists, but ultimately they should help people, interact with people and teach people. John would much rather have a great teacher who is capable of reading a book and sort of knows the woods, instead of some Captain Quint character who is hostile to other people and just wants to live by themselves in a fire tower, but is forced to take those cheechakos out and guide them around for 2 weeks. It is the same problem as giving engineers the task of writing a user’s manual or to work in a capacity where they are interacting with other humans. They became an engineer specifically to not have to interact with other humans, but inevitably they get transferred into a situation where they have to explain themselves in English.

John's councillors were two dingelings who should have been selling cross country skis at Eastern Mountain Sports. They were ten 16-year old thugs and one 14-year old baby in a freaking Lord of the Flies situation and these councillors were the worst kids of them all. They offered zilch and they were no comfort! They were ”Look, this side of the rock has the moss on it and that is how you know which side is North” and meanwhile the other kids were holding John, trying to force-feed him a can of chew. Eventually the 16-year olds went to war with one another and the reason they ate all the food was because they tried to starve one another out. They would get up in the middle of the night and scavenge a bunch of food, like get all the peanut butter. The NOLS-guys were just like ”Looks like we are out of peanut butter, I don’t know what we are going to do now”.

John had never eaten a slice of blueberry pie before he went to Outward Bounds. Halfway through the trip he remembered that when he had landed at the Minneapolis St Paul airport to go to the camp, there was a diner in the airport. It was the early 1980s and it was just on the cusp of when airports were still just list bus stations. Every airport had a diner where people were smoking cigarettes and eating pie, and at this diner John remembers a piece of blueberry pie in a pie case that he saw when he was paying for his hamburger and coke. He saw this piece of blueberry pie and it didn’t mean anything to him, but about halfway through his trip, he remembered it. You would think he had gotten sick of blueberries, but he didn’t! He was turning into a bear cub and would just tumble through the forest. They would canoe all day and carry their canoes with portage from lake to lake, but then they would make camp and there would be an hour or two of dusk light where all you had to do was to fight mosquitoes, avoid other kids and find as many blueberries as you could.

John started to fantasize about blueberry pie in a way that only a 14-year old can get an idea stuck in their head. John might even have been 13, he was a late bloomer, so it was right before he really got super-obsessed with sex. It was still a close race between sex and food. Chocolate cookies, blueberry pie, or imagining girls in his High School with their clothes off. On this trip he didn’t think about girls one time, but he only thought about blueberry pie and mosquitos and being drowned by these bullies. When he got back and left Duluth, he took a bus down from Duluth to Minneapolis, got in the airport, went right to this diner and got a big piece of blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream. It solidified for the rest of his life that blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream was the thing that you were really waiting for. It is the end point, the culmination. Everything you are doing is leading you to this pot of blue gold.

How John’s mom became a computer programmer (RW38)

The reason John's mom became a computer programmer is that in 1960 she read a book about all the new careers that women could get into and she narrowed it down to real estate agent or computer programmer. She loved real estate because she loved old houses and she loved everything about real estate, but when she tried to be a real estate agent, she realized that none of that mattered, but what mattered was if you could close a deal with some people, take them around the house and get them to buy. All the successful real estate agents had no idea about houses and didn’t care about them at all, but what they wanted to do was to sell houses. His mom told the people that this fireplace was built by a local craftsman and this property actually has a natural spring. Maybe the roof has to be replaced, but look at those eves, but she was not selling it, she was just dreaming.

Then she read the description of computer programmer that said ”Must like to be alone for long periods, must like to solve problems, needs to be self-directed and work for long periods in your head, coming up with solutions to intractable problems.” and you couldn’t make a description of a job that suited her better and that she would love more. In the early days of computer programming, a lot of what they did was sitting in their chairs, staring at the ceiling for days at a time solving the problem in their head. Then they would go to the terminal. All of them were like that. You didn’t even touch the terminal until you had elegantly resolved your problem in your mind. That was paradise to her and one day in 1984 she was the last one standing and they said ”Okay, you are a manager now, you have 80 employees”, but that was all about giving performance reviews and walking around with your hands behind your back, and looking over people’s shoulders. She didn’t want to do that, but that was what they needed her to do. Eventually she became the director of the department, but all she wanted was leaning back in her desk chair, solving math problems.

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