Category Archives: lp2

Resting Bitch Face

Let’s begin with an unhappy admission: I am not a pretty man.

There was a sort of lean, athletic okayness when I was young and had hair, I guess. I had pretty girlfriends, and they certainly couldn’t have been hanging around for my car (1967 Dodge Non-Chickmagnet GT), money (none), prospects (none), personality (“intense” was the euphemism, as I recall), and I forgot where I was going with this.

But as I’ve aged … Unhappy admission #2: I have what the kids call “resting bitch face.” Per Wikipedia, RBF:

…is a facial expression that unintentionally appears like a person is angry, annoyed, irritated, or contemptuous, particularly when the individual is relaxed, resting, or not expressing any particular emotion.[1][2] The concept has been studied by psychologists and may have psychological implications related to facial biases, gender stereotypes, human judgement and decision-making.[3][4][5] The concept has also been studied by scientists with information technology.[clarification needed] Using a type of facial recognition system, they found that the phenomenon is real and the condition is as common in males as in females, despite the gendered word bitch that is used to name the concept.[6]

Looking back, there were early signs (despite the hair and lean athletical thing).

Flash back to 1984. I’m bartending (Darryl’s 1913, Northpoint Blvd. in Winston-Salem). It’s earlyish in my shift when my buddy and fraternity brother Jim, who’s a waiter, picks up an order at the bar and asks “why are you being so pissy?”

Huh?

“Everybody is talking about what an asshole you’re being.”

I had no idea what he was talking about. I had just come in and started working like I did every other shift. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t sad. Not a cross word to anyone. I was just … neutral. And yet, my foul mood was the talk of the wait staff.

I can’t say how many times since I’ve had people ask what was wrong with me when nothing was wrong with me. Let’s go with “many.”

Fast-forward to last week. I’ve started a new job, and I am being pulled into the usual number of Zoom meetings. Obviously, the new guy wants to make a good impression, right? So, I was paying attention to the speaker and looking at the document being shared on screen, and then I happened to notice myself in the audience window to the side.

Great googley moogley.

Seriously – just being me, neutral, approachable, engaging, etc. Nobody said anything. Maybe they have low expectations. Maybe they were afraid. Regardless, I can’t go around looking like the old drunk sucking a PBR and shaking a rake at the neighborhood kids, no matter how cool and non-judgy the culture is.

So for the first time in my life I’m making an effort. This was taken on my last call.

I know, my pretty days are behind me. But if nobody calls the police we’ll call it a win.

The Marshall Fire: Driving Around the Map

If you were watching TV on December 30, you may have seen this:

Image Credit: Patch.com

If you checked back the next morning you could have seen this:

Marshall fire aftermath
Image Credit: Denver Post

The Marshall fire, driven by Category 2 hurricane-force winds, burned more than 6,000 acres, destroyed 1,000+ buildings (homes + commercial), cost well over a half-billion dollars in damages, and – miraculously – only killed two people.

Yesterday, finally, I drove up to look around. Here, in no particular order, are some observations.

Marshall Fire Map_wS

1: Close to home. We often use the phrase. In this case, though…

See that little blue house icon the green number one is pointing to? I lived there for a year when I moved back to Colorado in 2007 or so. It’s untouched. But the red to the right shows the burned homes between it and the Home Depot. The one next door is where my landlord Tom lived.

This was the biggest shock of the day. Based on what I had seen and heard, I thought all the houses along that road were okay.

I don’t know if Tom sold everything or if these were still his properties. He was a nice guy, and I hope he’s okay.

2: Rock Creek. I know wildfires can be capricious, and as you can tell by looking at this map, this one was no exception. The big blue area noted by the number two is a huge residential subdivision. My good friend Anders and his family used to live in there, and for a while our company offices were in the basement. When I look at how the fire was behaving, I have no idea how it avoided that section.

3: Davidson Mesa. I used to take my dog walking in the park on Davidson Mesa every morning. It’s hard to see that all those houses down the hill on the west side are gone. Likewise, everything across McCaslin to the east and along the northern side of Centennial Parkway…

I remember watching the fire coverage on TV and trying to visualize where some of this activity was taking place. But I haven’t lived there in a while, and almost none of the reporters had any clue where they were or what they were looking at. So yesterday was the first chance I had to really get the map straight in my mind.

4: By the skin of our teeth. I think one of my biggest surprises yesterday was realizing how much didn’t burn. I’m sure the people who own houses further east along Via Appia were terrified. Had the wind not died down there was a lot more waiting to be burned. And had it jumped S. Boulder Rd. to the north…

5: Old Superior. The fire was disaster for … well, just about everybody. But it was great news for the developers who have been trying to buy out the old Superior neighborhood for years. There was a core of old, run-down historic homes owned by people who liked it that way and who were. Not. Gonna. Sell. Meanwhile, progress built up around them.

The fight may not be over, but the holdouts have certainly lost a lot of leverage.

6: WTF? No, seriously. Look towards the bottom where the number six is. Look at that small line of fires along Coalton Road. Then look at all the real estate to the north that’s untouched. I’m not a fire expert or a weather expert. I know these things behave strangely.

(My first thought was that I could imagine a suspicious fire marshall looking at the map, scratching his head, and going out to the west end of that line and snooping around for signs of opportunistic arson.)

I used the phrase earlier – close to home. The reason we were watching this portion of the area so closely is the the spot indicated by 6a. That’s where my girlfriend’s best friend lives. That the fire didn’t jump Coalton was a massive relief at my house (also hers, I imagine).

She can look out the back window and see ruins. She can see just how close the inferno got. And she’s grateful for the fire crews that lined their trucks up along the road and, in a scene a little bit like Gandalf facing down the Balrog, said to the fire you shall not pass.

My people are mostly okay, although I now know there a thing called survivor’s guilt, and I imagine there are thousands of cases in the area now.

Why I Ask You Instead of Googling the Answer

Some people have noticed – and commented on – the fact that sometimes I’ll ask if they know X when I could look it up myself.

They’re right – this is something I do. Routinely. Sometimes they respond with impatience, asking me if I know there’s a small mobile device I can use to access the sum total of human knowledge and that I have one in my pocket, or on the table in front of me, or maybe even in my hand. There’s even a snarky Web site for those who want to take the derision a little further.

So, am I that fucking lazy? Read more