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A Carnivore’s Guide to Going Vegan for 30 Days

4 Jan

Last year, in an effort to look awesome, I took on a personal challenge to go both Vegan and Gluten-Free for 30 days. It wasn’t an ethical or health related decision so much as a Wile E. Coyote strategy to look like Matthew McConaughey meets ripped Jesus.

And the plan was bulletproof.

After only 30 days, I had gone from 194 to about 175 pounds and felt like a freaking superhero. It wasn’t without some severe commitment and sacrifices, but overall it was a good practice in self-control and seeing just what my body needs to function at a high level. Although I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone, it was a really awesome experience and I would totally suggest trying at least a modified version. If you’re interested, here’s how it’s done.

1. Make the decision.

If you’re anything like me, you avoid vegetables like reruns of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”

Because the answer is OH MY GOD YES.

So making the conscious decision to switch from a purely dead animal based diet to strictly fruits, vegetables, nuts, and gluten-free grains is pretty outside the realm of reason. But don’t worry. We lack reason.

2. Begin.

That wasn’t so bad right? It’s been 24 hours since you started and you haven’t felt any sort of desire to HOLY SHIT IS THAT CHEESE?!?!

I’d suggest throwing out or giving away every ounce of dairy, bread, and meat as this will only tempt you to stray from your convictions. If you’re living with a loved one, congratulate them on their new diet as they’ll now be joining you by proxy.

3. The first week.

If you didn’t feel like punching yourself in the face for the first 24 hours, you’ll definitely feel like it for the remaining 144 hours.

Yes, Fight Club was about Veganism.

That is, if you weren’t so damned weak from all the not eating.

The first week is spent mostly looking at ingredient labels to figure out what you can and can’t eat. The vegan part in this respect isn’t too difficult, but adding in the gluten-free aspect gets to be a huge pain in the ass. This is because most vegan alternatives contain gluten to PUNISH YOU FOR MAKING HORRIBLE DECISIONS.

Meanwhile, your body is getting fed up and has probably started dissolving muscle tissues for sustenance. Oh, and you’re trying to run and go to the gym during this mess, so good luck with that. If you haven’t broken your foot kicking a wall in frustration you can make plans to very soon.

He started it.

4. Detox.

Around the 7 day mark, all the sudden you won’t be hungry anymore. In fact, EVERYTHING food related suddenly looks like a twisted episode of Fear Factor and you’ll want to vomit at the sight of a glass of water. The upside is that the hunger pangs have subsided. The downside is that you will be actually starving for the next 72 hours.

I think this stage can be avoided if you perhaps do a little more pre-planning (like reading this blog), but pre-planning is for responsible folk, and we are not responsible folk.

5. Week 2.

This is your opportunity to start boasting to your friends how awesome you feel. This is more of an exaggeration than an outright lie, as you actually won’t feel those terrible hunger waves from before and your body most likely has adjusted. You’ve also learned what foods you’re allowed to eat and have probably started packing your own Hello Kitty lunchbox like a big boy.

I sign the notes, "Your #1 fan."

However, you will still miss meat, cheese, and bread severely. But it’s best not to talk about it.

This is also an awesome week if you’ve been weighing yourself, because you’ll have dropped quite a few pounds in just a few short days. It turns out when you’re not constantly snacking on Doritos and Mountain Dew your caloric intake drops pretty significantly.

Although it wouldn't surprise me to find Doritos contain no actual cheese.

If you’re still going to the gym and running, it’s probably important to find a good source of protein since you can’t steal it from animals anymore. I started making homemade vegan/gluten-free protein bars (general recipe included at the end of the article) so I wouldn’t waste away like a sand castle at high tide.

6. Going out to eat with friends.

Ready to feel like a huge D-Bag? Be the guy at the table that has the waiter run to the chef to ask about specific ingredients in the salad dressing. That is if you’re lucky enough to see salad on the menu.

And what will you be having tonight?

Well, I was actually wondering if you have any vegan options…

We have a wonderful eggplant parmesan that…

Oh, yeah… That’s great, but I’m actually vegan. Um, I can’t have any animal product whatsoever.

No animal product?

No animal product.

So eggs are okay?

Yeah… No.

Well, we have a delicious mixed salad with…

Does it have croutons?

Of course.

So… Actually none of those either. I’m also looking for gluten-free.

Gluten-free?

Gluten-free.

What the f*$% is gluten-free?

I’ll have a water.

Is waiter's spit considered vegan?

I went out to PF Chang’s with my cousin and some friends and they have a really extensive GF menu. The also have a few vegan options. But the only combination of both?

Steamed rice with steamed vegetables.

Guess what also contains gluten? Soy sauce. I added vinegar for flavor.

You are now exactly this fun to go out with.

If you’re living in some hippie town like San Francisco or Portland you’ll probably be fine. Anywhere else and you look like a foodie version of The Jersey Shore.

What you look like when you tell a waiter you're vegan gluten-free.

7. Week three.

This is the home stretch. You’re feeling pretty good, and you’ve made some awesome vegan dishes that make you question whether this isn’t actually an awesome way to live (one of these recipes is included below). You’re rarely hungry and you’re starting to feel catlike and agile. You have occasional cravings of meat and cheese but they’re easy to avoid. You look in the mirror and you like what you see.

Too bad the mirror's such a dick.

There’s nothing really bad to say about this week other than your stomach.

You know how cows are responsible for 1/5th of the world’s methane production? Yeah… That. But you.

8. Week four.

Congratulations, you’ve made it! You’re now in full swing. You feel awesome, you look awesome, and chances are you’ve got the diet down pat. You’ve got tons of energy and never feel tired after eating (not like before). You’re surprised to see how much people around you overeat, and just how unhealthy they’ve let themselves become.

And you look incredible.

9. Week five.

Delicious delicious barbecue.

10. Debrief.

This is actually a pretty solid account of my experience going vegan gluten-free. The first week was hell and the second week was spent learning. But the third and fourth week were awesome and I couldn’t believe the difference in how I felt before and after the switch. I think it was a bit unsustainable since I love meat too much and the all or none thing didn’t work too well for me, but I did a similar diet later and allowed cheat meals twice a week to allow for food with friends and occasional cravings. If you’re interested in testing your self-control and want to feel awesome while doing it, I’d suggest giving this a shot.

Of Tetanus.

This doesn’t mean you have to try and drop 20 pounds in 30 days, since that’s probably not all too healthy, but the vegan and/or gluten-free lifestyle is a good way to feel great and I’m pretty sure there’s some environmental and ethical benefits thrown in there as well (I haven’t done an ounce of research on the subject). I can’t promise that you’ll feel as incredible as I did, but at least you’ll get to talk down to your friends.

As promised here are some recipes to be used on your vegan gluten-free adventures…

Incredible Peanut and Root Stew (I live(d) on this and it’s AWESOME)

1 Onion Chopped
3 Carrots Chopped
3 Potatoes Chopped (Mix ‘em up: White, Red, Yellow, Purple, Whatever)
1 Sweet Potato Chopped
1 Yam Chopped
1 Parsnip Chopped
1 Turnip Chopped
1/4 Cup Uncooked White Rice
1/4 Cup Uncooked Quinoa (Assorted colors?)
1 Tablespoon Tamari Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper (If you want to give it some extra kick. I also add Chipotle Pepper when possible for a little smoke.)
2 Tablespoons Creamy Peanut Butter
2 1/2 – 3 1/2 Cups Water (Depends on how thick or thin you want the stew)

You just put it all in a massive pot and boil it all together for about 25-35 minutes.

It’s a modified version of a modified version of a recipe I found online. And it can be modified further with no issues.

It makes a ton, and you can just throw the extra in tupperware and feed off it FOREVER. It’s super easy and super delicious. I also buy some avocados and eat a quarter to half of one as kind of a garnish alongside the stew.

Vegan Gluten-Free Protein Bars

Go to the bulk food section of your local grocery store and get all kinds of nuts, seeds, berries, and whatever else you want. Put it in a mixer with a bunch of peanut butter, almond butter, and cashew butter. Add honey. Mix.

BOOM. Protein bars. Shape it into little squares, wrap them in wax paper, and throw them into the freezer. Great for after workouts, running, or early day protein boosts.

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Four Reasons to Prepare for the Robot Apocalypse in 2012

29 Dec

Just a few more days until 2012, and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably coming up with some vague New Year’s Resolutions you have no intention of keeping and reorganizing your hair doll collection for the upcoming celebratory tea party.

Not pictured: Dignity.

One thing you’re probably not doing? Preparing for the upcoming robot apocalypse.

While you’ve been busy shopping for Barbies and mobbing bowls of free candy, the machines have been lining up their zeros and ones in preparation for the takeover. How do I know?

1. OH MY GOD SELF HEALING ROBOTS.

A great selling point on biological entities is the fact that we can regenerate tissue and heal. I know, pretty awesome right? While I absolutely hate cutting tomatoes, I dig the fact that I can slice my finger open and still have use of it after I wake up from fainting.

Who the F*$% designed these things?!

I’m constantly boasting to my iPhone about my super-human abilities. When it freezes during Jelly Defense, I remind it that I can fucking end it at any moment with a free fall. Yet I’m realizing now that this may soon be an empty threat thanks to this article. While I haven’t actually read it, the headline tells me everything I need to know. Self healing robots.

Apparently a group of traitorous humans at the University of Illinois has figured out a way to create an electronic circuit that heals itself when it’s metal wires are broken.

When reached for comment, the group's spokesperson asked, "Have you seen this boy?"

Has anyone thanked Illinois for murdering civilization?

2. At least they can’t build impenetrable fortresses right? RIGHT?

They totally can.

It turns out that while you were putting together your nephews bicycle this Christmas season, the robots were busy learning how to build a castle out of foam bricks. All by themselves.

And they didn't even read the instructions.

Oh, and they’re called Quadcopter Drones. Remember the name when you’re telling your limbless grandchildren war stories from inside your mud cave.

The swarm of  50 Quadcopters has successfully built a 20 foot tall, 11 foot wide “Flight Assembled Architecture” (i.e. “Doom Fortress”) completely autonomously with the help of a “Fleet Management System”.

I’m sorry, I misspelled “Skynet”.

I'm sure it's safe kids. It's probably just looking for foam blocks.

3. Remember when successful revolutions in the Middle East utilized Facebook? Yeah, that… But for robots.

I don’t keep up too well with world events, but I know that some crazy shit has been going down in the Middle East. What’s been referred to as the “Arab Spring” has really reshaped how we view social medias and their effects on social change.

Facebook Ads in Egypt are weird.

So who’s the buffoon putting this thing together?

In case you can’t be bothered to click the link, the headline is, “Facebook for Robots Helps Droids Get Smarter”.

Than this?!?!

If the robots are anything like us they’ll just constantly upload photos of themselves pursing their lips and keeping tabs on how much weight their ex-boyfriends/girlfriends have gained.

So excited to go out with the girls after work today! LOL!

But they’re not, so it’ll probably end with an apocalyptic machine war.

4. But at least they’re not 13 feet tall and covered in guns. Oh, what? Never mind.

Someone needs to punch Hajime Sakamoto in the mouth. He’s working on building a 13 foot tall Gundam humanoid robot with the intention of eventually going as high as 59 feet.

Japan, will you never learn?

I’m pretty confident that I can overpower most intelligent robots by simply accidentally spilling my chocolate milk on their keyboard as I reach for my bag of Jelly Bellys.

"Hi, Apple Care? Are Tutti Fruttis covered under your warranty?"

However, with the advent of 59 foot war machines my size advantage is suddenly negated.

I’m not sure why Mr. Sakamoto is even contemplating creating real-life Gundams. I mean, he’s definitely human, so why does it feel like he’s trying to give the robots the keys to our front door?

Yeah, definitely human.

So perhaps it’s time to reevaluate our New Year’s resolutions and dedicate them towards the anticipation of the robot rebellion. If I’ve learned anything from countless years of Terminator sequels, it’s that a little bit of precaution and preparedness can make up for some really terrible acting.

Seriously though, what the fuck was that?

Note to the human reader: This is very pleasant example of satire and should not be assumed as fact. Machines do not have attribute of critical thinking and therefore should not be viewed as potential threat. Please continue to enjoy holiday season. Max, who is definitely alive, wishes you the reader happy new year.

– MacBook Pro #1892847

Five Types of Customers I Think We’re All Trying To Avoid

18 Dec

There’s an outlandish volume of effort put in to creating incredible customer service nowadays through online resources, books, and presentations (in addition to countless other avenues) and I totally agree with it. I love the state of customer service and the energy companies put in to create an awesome experience for their clients. You can return anything anywhere for any reason.

You still can't however, return a punch by Chuck Norris.

The flip-side of the improved emphasis on service is that there’s a growing number of customers who are turning into, or have always been, absolute tools. They believe being a customer excludes them from being respectful or having empathy for what it means to work in the service or retail industry.

Here are five ways you can be just like them:

1. I’d like to murder your business through the power of the internet.

There’s something special about the anonymity of the net that puts us all in a position where we feel we can say things we’d normally be too embarrassed or tactful to say in public (see: my blog). Take this stooge:

Let's tar and feather this guy.

So… Let me break this down. In the 5 years you’ve been going to the restaurant you’ve never bothered to take the time to write a positive review. Now that you’ve had a negative experience you wanted to show the world what a #%*$ing turncoat you are by creating a writeup representing exactly 1% of your experiences with said restaurant? How could you possibly come to the conclusion that the restaurant has “lost its sense of professionalism” and let its success get to its head based on tasting some warm soup? That’s like me making the assumption that you’re a pretentious twit based on this one lonely post. Except that I’d be right.

And your dog looks ridiculous.

Review sites are a great place to let others know about your experiences. Just remember that businesses (especially new ones) depend on your reviews to bring in new customers. So be fair. Don’t be like Chihuahua guy and reserve your posts exclusively for bad experiences.

2. I don’t think servers should be allowed to vote.

For some reason, certain people hear the word “server” and think “servant”. Just because someone is getting paid minimum wage to bring you a plate of ham doesn’t mean you’ve been given the green light to treat them like sub-citizen trash.

And I want you to cover my character flaws with extra cheese!!!

These customers get heated so quickly that it’s hard to understand how the Judicial System still lets them out of their homes. I’ve had plenty of experiences with customers who feel that it’s perfectly acceptable to begin yelling and swearing at an employee because of some unforeseen circumstance like a long line. Most people handle small inconveniences with a shrug and a sigh, but because they’ve been raised by wolves the only thing this customer knows how to do is bark and foam at the mouth.

Hey man, don't put that on us. We raised her right.

It’s not that you can’t get frustrated or complain, just do it in a constructive way that keeps the intention of the conversation in mind: To solve the problem, not to make the guy that has to deal with you for $7.00 an hour feel like crying.

And on a side note, learn how to tip. I know it’s not a mandatory charge, but it’s the voluntary tax we all pay for being waited on and served outside of our homes.

3. I’m not sure what was wrong but I’d like my money back. No, I don’t have any left.

There are customers out there who want to avoid any aspect of responsibility created by a purchase. Just three days ago, I was at a hole in the wall restaurant at a small airport in Oregon. I wasn’t too hungry, so I figured I’d order something small from the menu to share with my wife. Most everything on the menu was standard fare, burgers and fries, but I ordered the calamari.

I know, it looks delicious.

It was pretty bad, but what would possibly compel me to order calamari at a burger joint in the first place? It was a bad call on my part. You know what I didn’t do? Send it back. Why? Because I took responsibility for my ridiculous decision. I had a few more bites and let it go. We ended up ordering a slice of apple pie with ice cream, which by the way, was scrumptious.

So scrumptious.

Some customers lack the responsibility trait. I used to work at a cake shop and have had customers return their birthday cake with one slice left (and often no cake left) with an ambiguous statement like, “Too much flavor.” or “It was difficult to cut.” Because the company I worked for was awesome, we took care of them. There were definitely customers with valid issues, but occasionally it was just some clown trying to save 50% on the purchase price. “So, no one liked the cake, but you didn’t realize it until you were 24 slices in?”

Actually, it was Murphy who first pointed it out.

C’mon guys. Valid complaints help businesses improve and it’s always appreciated when customers have that intention. But some of you are thieves.

4. I know you’re required to be cordial and respectful since I’m the customer. Can I ask you a subtly inappropriate question about your life?

My wife worked as a server for a while at a restaurant in Vegas when she first moved to the United States. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management and has studied in England for about a year where she perfected her English (She’s originally from Ecuador). Despite being very well-spoken, she still has an adorable accent.

Most common question asked by customers?

“So how did you get into the states?”

And they asked it in a semi-whisper. You know. In case immigration was listening in.

Which they were.

I appreciate that people were truly interested in my wife’s history and were trying to engage her in some pleasant conversation. I just wish they had some tact. It’s uncomfortable enough responding that she’s happily married to a US citizen, could you imagine if she were actually here illegally? How could she possibly respond to that question?

I arrived via a plethora of piñatas.

Customers know servers are required to be cordial, so for some reason some believe that this is a good opportunity to ask questions that would be otherwise considered completely inappropriate. “Oh, you graduated with a degree in accounting? What are you doing serving then?”

Calculating how to ruin your day I guess.

Remember that just because someone is being paid to listen to your order, doesn’t mean that you should fill their ear with questions that are best suited to a counselor’s office. They have to act professional despite inquiries that make them uncomfortable, so don’t misinterpret polite laughter as an invitation to keep digging.

5. Wait wait… But it says one per customer. My 2-year-old daughter is making a separate purchase.

One of my least favorite class of dangerous customers are those that study the restrictions on a coupon with the intensity of Surya Rakta Chaitra.

Yeah, this guy.

You know those coupons you get sent via email that are something simple like “25% Off Your Purchase” and then have restrictions that are two pages long? You have this customer to thank.

I used to do marketing for a small local business. When I started, the stipulations were two sentences long, mostly “Some restrictions may apply.” and “Limit one per customer.” I quickly learned how to adjust to a class of person that is constantly trying to validate their attempts at cunning piracy. This is the same customer who walks out the door and back in to take advantage of the “one per purchase” statement. I know, you’ve found a loophole. It’s still cheating.

Nope, still you.

There are some pretty silly restrictions out there, and some are meant to misrepresent the value of the offer. Most however, are just trying to avoid getting taken advantage of by these guys. It might be true that you can interpret it to support your argument, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re trying to defraud an honest business.

I absolutely love customers, they’re the only reason businesses exist and the vast majority are absolutely awesome to deal with. As a fellow consumer, I try to be the kind of customer I would want to deal with, and it embarrasses me when I’m around patrons that have yet to learn how to deal with other humans in the client-server capacity. Those of us around them should really take a moment to remind them of the golden rule.

And here's a picture of Denzel Washington.

Three Forms of Self-Expression I’m Not Really Down With

9 Dec

I’m pro-self-expression. I love that I live in a society where I can say babies look like little old people and not experience any repercussions (minus the hateful looks from my wife). However, there are forms of self-expression that I find just don’t really do it for me. It’s not that I think you shouldn’t be able to express yourself, I just think it should stop being done in the following ways.

1. Tattoos

When I was 4 years old I had a favorite toy. It was a plastic Tyrannosaurus Rex that I named Bagel. I absolutely loved Bagel. Me and him were like partners in crime running ’round the house creating ruckus.

Tyrannosaurus Rex and me

Me and Bagel posing for the camera.

Fast forward 16 years and I’m on my first solo backpacking experience. I’m talking with a French Canadian outside a beach hostel about my incredible idea for a tattoo I’d like to get. I’ve drawn out a killer sunset over the ocean done in black in this crazy tribal pattern that I’d like centered on my back, and though I don’t understand a thing he says, I’m pretty sure my new French Canadian friend agrees that it sounds awesome.

Guess what you won’t find on my back today? A big @$*#ing tattoo of an ocean sunset.

Indiana Jones and Spiders

Also this.

The lesson here has everything to do with Bagel. Do you know where Bagel the plastic T-Rex is today? Do you have any idea where Bagel, the toy that I loved like a brother and would kill for if it were possible as a four-year old, could possibly be? No. And you know what? I have no clue either.

Jurassic Park T Rex

I'd like to think he's become a big Hollywood celebrity.

The fact is, we change. Our opinions change, our notions of “what’s cool” change, and our priorities and values change. Even really unyielding convictions change. I had immensely strong feelings for Bagel, and yet, here I am today writing about how he’s probably been reprocessed into tires.

Flashback to the beach house and I’m about to pull the trigger on my terrible decision before I asked myself, “Hey Max, do you think this will look as awesome in 10 years as it’ll look tomorrow?” Not surprisingly, the answer was a resounding no.

Old Wine Bottles

Your ten year old tattoo is not considered a vintage.

And guess what? I was right. I’m immensely proud of 20-year-old Max for deciding not to go through with it. He understood that even though surfing and sunsets were now the two most important things to him, like Bagel, he might lose touch with those priorities.

I have a friend that has three of his ex-girlfriend/wives’ names on his arm. THREEThe first two are crossed out. I can’t italicize that enough. He somehow managed not to make one poor tattoo decision, but three. He thought getting girl #1’s name tattooed on his arm was romantic, so he inked his arm up, and then the romance died. Cue second girl. She bothered him about loving the first girl enough to get a tattoo, so he had to get a second. Then the third girl followed suit, and he ended up with three names. It’s like he applied an old wives’ tale to important relationship decisions. Lightning never strikes the same place twice right?

Two lightning bolts

Wrong.

So it’s not that I don’t agree with tattoos. It’s that I don’t agree with their longevity. Some look awesome (and many look terrible), but there’s rarely something so unique and so powerful that I must announce it to the world permanently underneath my shirt.

There are of course exceptions. If a tattoo is meant to memorialize something timeless then by all means, this doesn’t apply. For the others, I don’t buy that you got the barbed wire because it symbolized the cage of your existence.

And just in case you think this isn’t a real story, here’s a drawing I keep to remind myself that no matter where I am in life, in 10 years, I will always look back and think I was an idiot.

Drawing of sunset tattoo

Please invent a time machine so I can go back and punch myself in the face.

2. Bumper Stickers

I’m not sure what it is about the bumper on a car that causes people to assume that it’s an appropriate place to have serious political discourse or borderline offensive remarks.

choking bumper sticker

Oh I get it! You're a serial killer!

For some reason, people feel it’s appropriate to say things on their bumpers that one would never repeat in a conversation with a stranger. Could you imagine if the next time you introduced two friends the conversation went like this?

You: Hi Rick, I’d like you to meet Linda, we’re old friends from Vegas.

Rick: Hi Linda, my child is an honor student at Green Valley High School!

Linda: Hi Rick, my Boston Terrier is smarter than your honor student!

Didn’t that feel awkward?

The thing to remember is, when you have a bumper sticker on the back of your car, it’s quite simply the first thing you’re saying to every stranger you see on the road.

way too many bumper stickers

This says, "I'm #@*$ing crazy."

And that’s not even mentioning the people you do know. Would you go around to every co-worker at the office and let them know that their support of their favorite political candidate is akin to treason? That’s what it sounds like when you silly glue your “Screw Liberals”/”Screw Conservatives” sticky note to the back of your windshield.

3. Dance

I’m totally cool with dance as a concept, especially by people who enjoy it enough to be good at it. But we start getting into some pretty funky areas when people use dance as a form of self-expression in situations that are probably not dance-friendly.

Dance fighting

During a violent brawl, for example.

I went to a music festival in Seattle that was pretty fantastic. I enjoyed the “sit down” style of melody as did most the audience. There were about 2 or 3 people in the crowd who couldn’t handle their excitement and just had to move their body semi-rhythmically to the beat. Every one of those people looked like they were trying to have sex with a ghost.

casper the friendly ghost

Which in this case, seems totally inappropriate.

I tried to focus on the music, but the weird hip thrusts were quickly becoming prominent in my field of vision and I ended up kind of watching that for the rest of the set. And what does that say about me?

squirrels playing cards

Some pretty strange stuff I would say.

I truly do admire people for dancing “like nobody’s watching,” but the fact is that most of the time, there are dozens of people watching. And I gotta say, you’re making us pretty uncomfortable.

guy naked and darth vader making woman uncomfortable

Yep, just like that.

So just remember, that chinese symbol for “pride” that you’re getting right above your crack is probably going to look like a mistake when your first-born hits 12. And remember that ironic bumper sticker about eating babies you put on your old Corolla? Yeah, your boss walks by that everyday. He’s trying to figure out how to fire you.

And the dancing thing? I’d appreciate it if you’d stop making me feel like such a damned square.

Feel free to disagree in the comments below. Yelling can be done in CAPS.