how can I make this into $SHOP?! A soapbox thought

Soapboxing is Dumb, Let’s Reconsider

soap·box: ˈsōpˌbäks/ noun a box or crate used as a makeshift stand by a public speaker.

The action of getting up on one’s soapbox (to soapbox [v.]) is someone with a strong idea, needing to share it in the moment, finds something to stand on. Often the impromptu platform for soapboxing was that of its name sake – a crate used for shipping soap. Soapboxes were a key component of street oratory; sidewalk speakers who were holding meetings or making speeches needed to put themselves above the crowd to be seen and heard. This also created controversy: it pitted public order against the freedom of anyone to speak out loud. It also set up “rival” soapboxers – someone who would be there to offer opposing opinions. Skilled speakers had to be quick on their feet, loud, and armed with wit.

Social media affords us the opportunity to hop up on our soapbox without abandon; clamoring and unfiltered. For better or worse, we’ve enabled opinions to be shared with everyone around the globe. World leaders celebrities and Joe-off-the-street can hop online and broadcast their feelings with three taps of a finger and 140 (or 280) characters. It’s simultaneously an wonderful resource, and a horrifying insight into others’ lives. I can know exactly what skincare routine my favorite B-list sci-fi celebrity utilizes, and also know how my coworker feels about their customers.

I think that this could be made so much better. I propose the idea of soapboxing be taken literally. Boxing is just two people, generally wearing protective gloves, throwing punches for a predetermined time in a boxing ring. Soapboxing would be boxing, but involving the usage or application of soap and also public speaking. If someone has an opinion and would like to speak on it, they need to arm themselves with bars of soap, and start throwing punches while talking. Fists clenched tightly around the Irish Spring bar, and shouting their outlook on corn futures in relation to $SHOP shorting. If there is someone with an opposing idea, they also ought to take up soap and begin swinging.

I’m aware this idea needs some polishing, and I’m open to suggestions. Perhaps there’s the caveat that your feet must remain on a literal soapbox while punching? Maybe the actual soap boxes themselves should be used as the weapons. Or even the boxing ring could be soap-coated, and the contest is to stay upright while also communicating your ideas. Though that may be heading towards mud wrestling. We’ll muddle through the fine details on that later.

There is progress to be made in getting up on a soapbox, and we’re the ones who have to figure it out. Social media has been a step up, but we can’t take a soapbox at face value. We need to have soap and faith – cry havoc and let slip the soapbox of war.

With greatest esteem and respect I am, dear sir, your most obedient and most humble servant

feet on a longboard

“I’ve ‘Matthew McConaughey’-ed Twice at Work Now, What Do I Do?” How to Recover From “Alright, Alright, Alright.”

When your joke falls flat, your reaction will determine how well you sleep that night.

I get it; I am the queen of both impulsive decisions and terrible jokes. That is, jokes that are quintessential “dad” humor, and jokes that are poorly constructed. It can be an absolutely disastrous combination.

My family prizes humor – my father often says his dream job would have been to sit around and come up with one-liners. Growing up, this meant that any discussion our family had was punctuated with dumb puns, pop culture jabs and M*A*S*H-style spoofs. When a joke didn’t land, it would be brushed off. There was no harm in testing new material or reaching for the subject matter; the worst someone would do was blow a raspberry and boo a little. While this meant that I had a completely awesome and supportive environment, it also meant that I gave into my predisposition to just blurt out the first thing that came to mind.

To sketch a framework of (horrifying) things that have come out of my mouth in a professional or formal setting:

Tim, the really nice HR guy: “Ooh, coffee. I need another cup. You like it black?”

Myself: “Yep, as black as my soul.”

Ross, my manager: “Jesus, Emily.”

(I was then forbidden from speaking to corporate unsupervised)

Another time –

Coworker picking up the phone: “Good morning-“

Myself: “VIETNAM!” 

(I’m not allowed to say this in the office any more)

To finish this up –

Global Entry Officer conducting my interview: “Right, so anyone traveling in your party without enrolling in this program will not be able to go through the PreCheck line, they-“

Myself: “Yep, they’ll have to go through the peon line.”

(He gave me the hairy eyeball, but I ultimately was approved for the program)

This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination. There’s a great deal of tiny interactions I’m sure I’ve forgotten that involved stupid puns, or knock-knock jokes with terrible punchlines, etc, etc.

The point being is that I had to learn the hard way to roll with the failures. If I didn’t, I would be miserable constantly. I would be doubting every fifth word coming out of my mouth and tossing and turning at night reliving all of the awkward moments I had placed myself in from the moment I could speak until the time I walked out of the office that day. A small chuckle, maybe a self-deprecating comment and a smile goes a long way toward smoothing any ruffled feathers or awkward silence or looks. It doesn’t have to be perfect – I’m certainly not claiming to be – but it’s critical to be able to roll with anything. Even if the roll is a Nat 1.

Regarding the Matthew McConaughey impression that brought you here: please evaluate why you’ve said “alright alright alright” twice in a single day. Then, embrace the McConaissance and begin perfecting your drawl. Only take on rom-coms until you decide to shed your surfer life and become a dramatic actor. Youths these days, man, I get older, they stay the same age. Or something like that.

yrs as always

cat rear end on a table

Cat Law: Just Try Sitting On It

If the human legal idiom is “possession is nine tenths of the law,” then the cat law equivalent is “if in doubt, sitting on it has a 90% success rate”

Cats are notoriously imperialistic: what they touch is theirs. The coffee table, your sleeping face, the half-drunk glass of water, dog food, and a prize orchid. If a cat has touched it, it is theirs. A favored method of the cat is just sitting on it. To be sure, this applies to all of the items listed above and more.

There is definitely something to be said for this – asserting your place in the world by just sitting on it. However, I’d like to discourage anyone from dropping trou and planting their bare tukhus on a public surface. That’s just gross.

Firstly, the bus (or train). There is an awkward balance between leaving enough space between yourself and your neighbor, and also fitting everyone into the bus (or train car). Sometimes it’s easier to stand on the bus and avoid any potential confrontation rather than squish yourself down into an open seat. This is when to channel a cat and plant your butt right down. It might be prudent to do the perfunctory mouthing of “is this seat taken” or “is it OK if I sit here?” You aren’t really a cat, after all – manners should be part of your life.

Secondly, the bathroom. This, to my knowledge, is primarily a woman-based issue. Women decide that it’s more sanitary to hover over the toilet seat. Take three seconds, a bit of toilet paper, and clean the seat, if you’re worried. Sit yourself down, ladies. The person cleaning the bathroom will thank you. The back of your legs isn’t going to just fall off if you make seat contact. Take a lesson from a cat and sit down.

Third, the conference room. There always seems to be a bit of a tip-toeing dance in a conference room. Should you sit next to your team? Away from or angled towards where the projector is? Is this the time to squish up next to the VP? While I’m sure each meeting has nuances that dictate social mores, a cat would not care. Take a page out of a cat’s book – put your butt in a chair, and let the others do the dancing.

Cats, ladies and gentlemen, have a lot of it right. Assert yourself, and look cute while doing it.

Yours, etc.

someone took a close-up of grapes, idk man.

An Argument For Grapes – the Ballistically Smart Fruit

I’d like to pick a fruit fight.

A bowl of grapes sat on my desk at work, and the thought of flicking one across the room to bounce off a forehead was really tempting. My family and friends can attest to the fact that I have hucked a fair amount of fruit at them over the years. In fairness, some of the fruit-throwing was provoked. If someone says “do it, you won’t,” what is there to do?

In case there was concern, I did make it through the work day without any grapes flying through the air.

Reflecting on all the fruit-launching, I’ve come to the conclusion that the grape is the best choice for throwing.

Consider your personal favorite fruit. If you were to try and throw the fruit, what would that look like? Some fruits are just stupid choices, like cantaloupes. They’re weighty and all they do is bulk up fruit salad. A blueberry isn’t a bad idea, but it’s so light that doesn’t fly well, and someone’s gonna be pissed if they have to scrub a purple stain out of clothing. There are others choices probably better suited as biological weapons, like durian. Durian could arguably be an effective ground-based weapon, akin to a caltrop.

Enter the grape.

Grapes fly with a reasonable degree of accuracy, don’t leave marks if you hit your target (though they’re heavy enough to irritate), grapes taste good, they’re light, and easily obtained. As a bonus, if the grape is ripe, there’s no spatter on impact or airborne scatter.

Regardless of what kind of grape it is, I’ll peg it across the room, no questions asked.

If you’re wondering what kind of person thinks about these arguments, I make no apologies. I went to grape lengths to compile this. Don’t be sour.

Eat it, nerd.


The Rules of the English Language:

bal·lis·tic: (bəˈlistik/) adjective – relating to projectiles or their flight.
ad·verb: (ˈadˌvərb/) noun – a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc.