percentages.

For someone who professes to hate math, I find myself using numbers a lot.
I work with money – that’s a lot of numbers. I do some stock and option trading – more numbers. And for some reason, I’m always thinking about things in terms of percentages.
What percentage of the work week has been completed, and how much is left?
I drive better than 97% of all other humans.
I’m operating at a 47% enthusiasm level at work.
What percentage of my brain am I actually using?
This latte scores an 82% on the latte scale.
My gas tank is 52% full.
What percentage is my phone battery on??!?
But, just because I think I terms of percentages, and look at and use a lot of numbers, does NOT mean I’m good at math. I can’t remember formulas for stuff (find the Future Value of an investment? Meh). I’m actually not even good at adding or subtracting, unless we’re talking about bars of Trader Joe’s chocolate (i.e., 10 bars for me, plus none for you, equals still none for you). But in my defense, just like we don’t have to memorize phone numbers anymore because they’re all in our phones, why do I have to figure out how to add in my head? Hello iPhone calculator.
When I was very young, my mother had my IQ tested. She never told me what the score was though. She always said she didn’t want it to influence me. So what was I supposed to think? It’s possible she never told me because she didn’t want me to be disappointed by how low it was. If it was really that low, I wouldn’t be smart enough to be disappointed by it… right? And then I did almost skip second grade…
So I’ll give myself the (hopeful) benefit of the doubt and assume the score was higher rather than lower. WAS being the operative word there. If I was smart at one time, it seems I may have lost it somewhere along the way. I think it could have been somewhere around 7th grade. Math got hard, blech! Or maybe it was my senior year in college, when I may have done a few things I probably shouldn’t have, that may or may not have contributed to the loss of brain cells…
my senior year
pens are interesting
When I think of a “smart person” or a person with a high IQ, nowadays images of Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory come to mind. Super Nerds who can rattle off equations and spend their time solving our Big Math And Science Questions. But I know this is just a cultural stereotype. I’ll wager there are some pretty smart people working at regular jobs at the bookstore, or Whole Foods. Or the bank. Do geniuses decide to go open a dry cleaners? Or write novels? So why doesn’t someone make a sitcom about THOSE people?
In any event, I have fond memories of childhood, when I was still smart, and taking IQ tests, and going to Montessori school, and being assigned special creative projects because I had already finished reading the class textbook… Fond memories of a time when I was smart and the whole world lay before me, 100% pure possibility.
Calculus genius (not)
This what happens when you drop out of Calculus at the semester but are also on the yearbook staff
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goin’ mersh

I’m thinking of starting an online magazine (webzine? E-zine?). So I was thinking about what to call it. It has to be something catchy… anyway, for some reason the word “mersh” popped into my brain. Mersh could be part of the title, like, “Much More Mersh” (or, MMM, not to be confused with the stock ticker for 3M), or “More Than Mersh.”

Often times when a word or phrase pops into my head, I get curious and look it up. I know how *I* use the word mersh, but what is the “official” meaning of the word? Or is there one?
The way I use the word, comes from when I was in high school, in the eighties, in Southern California. I use it to mean “commercial.” Like, I like Sunset Beach better than Huntingon Beach, because Huntington went all mersh. But am I the only one who uses it this way? Because every time I refer to something as mersh, I inevitably get asked what the heck am I talking about.
So I went where I always go when I have ANY kind of question – the interwebs. I SearchEngined mersh. The first reference I got was for “commercial grade marijuana.” Mersh – commercial pot, usually of inferior grade. Well, that’s a new one to me – when I was growing up, there was no such thing! All pot was illegal. Some was better than others (skunk?) but none was mersh. OK, I learned something new there.
The second reference was to something about dipping genitals in chili. Yeah, I decided not to pursue that one any further…
After I read that, I got a little worried – oh dear, have I been using mersh wrong all these years? That can’t be! I kept looking. I knew I had first come in contact with it in the music scene. And I was pretty sure Mike Watt had something to do with it. And sure enough, I did find references on the interwebs to  a third meaning – used in conjunction with The Minutemen. The Minutemen were a fine punk band from San Pedro, CA (endearingly referred to back in the day as the armpit of LA).
I grew up right down the freeway from there, and listened to the Minutemen some, and their successor band, fIREHOSE even more.  Yep, I was punk. In SoCal. In the eighties. Nuff said bout that.
The Minutemen were an integral part of the California punk scene in the 80’s. Founded in 1980, they were around till 1985 when their lead singer D. Boon died in a car crash. That year, they released an EP called Project: Mersh. It was a little more accessible than previously released material (but still not close to “pop” by any definition). That’s the earliest reference I could find to MERSH.
The Minutemen were known for “jamming econo” – touring and playing in an ultra-thrifty manner. (It inspired the name of a documentary about them – “We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen.” You can see it here).
the minutemen
the minutemen
After D. Boon’s death, The Minutemen disbanded. But miraculously along came Ed Fromohio and convinced bassist Mike Watt and drummer George Hurley to start up again, under the moniker fIREHOSE . They were one of my favorite bands in high school and college. Mike Watt is actually one of the best bassists ever (no, seriously, he’s up there with Flea and Bruce Hughes) and George Hurley is one heckova drummer. Oh and his muscles didn’t hurt either.
george hurley, firehose
george hurley, cal state fullerton free concert, 1987 or 1988
 If you have one of those fancy music services, check out their first record, Ragin’, Full-On. A real winner.
Yes, this is me with fIREHOSE. Please don’t make fun of my hair.  Give me a break. It was a long time ago.
andrea and george hurley
andrea and george, c. 1988, cal state long beach
mike watt, george hurley, edfromohio - firehose
mike watt, george hurley, edfromohio – firehose
So, my usage of mersh as COMMERCIAL is legit. Saved once again by the interwebs. Thanks, Minutemen! You rock.
I think I will Jam Econo in my new webzine.
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toolkit.

I recently got an interesting email at work from my company’s “Wise & Well” group. Yes it sounds a bit cheesy, but really the W&W program is a pretty great idea – you can submit information on when you work out, go to the doctor for preventative visits, run in a 5k, etc – and they pay you money! I get paid to be healthy. I think this is brilliant.

Anyway, sometimes the W&W group sense out emails with information on health issues like losing weight or drinking enough water or heart disease. It turns out May is Mental Health Month.  So they sent out an email earlier this week with an attachment about making your own “Happiness Toolkit.” According to a header across the top, this document is one of a series of “Group Activities for Psycho-Social Education.” Hmmm.
Their sample Toolkit consisted of items that have metaphorical meanings, to remind you to be positive and happy. A few items were as follows:
  • Stress Ball – be resilient.
  • Kaleidoscope – always changing; put color in your life.
  • Bubbles – duh, everyone likes bubbles.
  • Marbles – in case you feel like you’re losing yours.

And so on. You get the idea.

 At the bottom of the page it says:
“Can you think of more metaphorical objects on your own? Can you add a few more in the space below?”
Why yes I can!
Here are a few objects that would be found in my Personal Happiness Toolkit:
  • 10 bars Trader Joe’s 73% Dark Organic Chocolate – this would be my “duh” item.
  • Large Sharp Knife – in case I need to gut any fish or hack my way out of the jungle.
  • 1 Condom – you never know.
  • Peanut Butter – it’s just good. I must be hungry.

Oh wait! These items aren’t very “metaphorical,” are they! Or aren’t they?? Maybe I’m not a very metaphorical person. Let’s see now, let me try harder.

  • One half of the thick red glass votive candleholder that belonged to my mom – this was my mom’s favorite votive holder. My aunt and I went through all of my mom’s things after she died – we threw away some, gave away some, and kept some. When we were done, we noticed that this heavy glass candleholder had split cleanly in two. All on its own. That day. It’s a reminder that even the most solid things are fragile and can break unexpectedly. Be careful.
  • A photograph of my Grandma’s house on the beach – to remind me of beautiful places and happy memories
  •  A laminated card that says “BREATHE” on it. I often forget.
  • A pen and paper – write down ideas. Write a story. Write something. Write anything.
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now that’s true talent… gah

Welp, I guess it was time for something like this to happen. If you know me at all, you’ll know it was inevitable.
I just tried to delete some files for an old web site that I no longer use.
And I just blew away my acneil.com blog.
Yeah.
Well, it’s just words. And pictures. Nothing that was all that important anyway.
Now – a blank slate.
What is next?

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