Running into your celebrity idols.

I was recently working out at a gym location I’d never been to before.  After pounding away on the elliptical I climbed off to seek out the stretch area.  While scanning the room, my sights fell on a fellow two machines down from me: Richard Baluyut, founding member of one of my favorite bands, Versus.  There he was in all his indie-rock glory sweating away as I just had been.  I almost peed my pants with fan-geek glee.  I wished with all my might that he would stop by the stretch area after his sweat sesh, but alas, he did not.  I hope he stretched later because he will be sore if he didn’t!  Anyway, it got me thinking; how do you smoothly introduce yourself to someone you idolize to give them a compliment without being annoying to them or embarrassing to yourself?

It’s not as if Richard is such a mega rock star who gets tons of radio play that everyone would recognize him, but to me he’s a huge deal and I really enjoy and respect his music, and believe him to be a consummate stage performer.  How does one convey that sentiment without making a person uncomfortable?  Even in daily interactions with people we know, some are just not good at accepting complements.  I wouldn’t want to do anything that would make him feel like he couldn’t even enjoy a quiet workout in peace.  I know I get annoyed if there are people grunting on every rep or talking on their cell phones in the gym.  And I certainly wouldn’t like it if strangers came up to me or I thought there were people staring at me.

It reminded me of another celebrity spotting I had where I couldn’t get it together to say hello.  I was at a bar/restaurant around the corner from where comedian Ron White had just performed.  He stayed most of the evening across the room from me but I didn’t even turn around to fully look at him for fear of doing something dorky.

I guess the only thing I can do is to keep working out in that gym, hope I run into him in a normal and totally casual way without committing any social faux pas, and in the meantime, fantasize about us becoming bro’s and hanging out at each others’ respective pads and jamming out together.

Justifiable homicide and entomological favoritism.


Do you ever feel a philosophical tug at your conscience when you murder insects?  I was getting ready to shower the other night and as I undressed, I noticed a large bug had worked its way into my shirt and was on my torso.  I smacked it off but as it hit the ground, I realized it was a firefly.  I instantly felt horrible for killing it, but not even one minute later, I ruthlessly exterminated a mosquito on the ceiling and a little brown cigarette beetle that was crawling in my bathtub.  I acknowledge that I felt bad for the firefly because I like shiny glowing things.  The others had no inherent value for me and my rule of thumb has been: if it’s outside and doing no harm. leave it be.  If it’s in my house, it’s fair game.  I think that this can be a metaphor at its deepest level, about the fact that we as humans intrinsically don’t value life in general; just our own and those that matter to us in some way.

Nurse sharks are hella cool.

I got a chance to visit an aquarium nearby and had the pleasure of meeting some beautiful, friendly, docile nurse sharks.  They were quite used to human attention and handling and held still for gentle petting.  Their skins are a lovely mix of red, purple and magenta, and feel a bit like very fine grit sand paper.  I was amazed to find that they can hold still in the water for so long as most sharks have to swim to keep breathing or they’ll suffocate.  Apparently the lucky nurse shark can chill because of an ability to pump water into its mouth and keep inhaling while still.  I was also surprised to see them in a pool surrounded by many playful cownose rays and sting rays (with stingers trimmed) flapping and darting about them.  I read that nurse sharks like to feed on these guys but maybe the sharks are so well fed, they don’t bother going after the rays.

If you have a day free, why not stop by your local aquarium, zoo, or reserve?  Your price of admission not only gives you access to see animals of great beauty and variety, but it also goes to support their care, animal research, and funding for environmental protection.