Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Value of "I Don't Know"

I know a guy who's in computers. Hey - you might even say I'm related to him. Since the computer I use for occasional work is getting pretty old, I thought I'd get his opinion on the new stuff. There are lots of options.

Bottom line: I'm difficult.
Lesson learned: Don't ask someone's advice if you aren't going to take it.

Right. Well, let's call it a day then. Or maybe you'd be interested in hearing another perspective on it.

Bottom line: The phrase "I don't know" has tremendous value.
Lesson learned: Always feel free to pass up the opportunity to dispense advice, especially when you really don't know.

I swear, I can't even have a conversation with this person anymore. Here's how my last conversation with him went (starting with me):

"My car needs plug wires."
"It sputtered quite a bit when it was starting."
"Yeah, but it was a little flooded."
"I don't think it was flooding. Sounded like some kind of fuel flow problem."
"But you were working the pedal for a while before the thing started, right?"
"Yeah. And when it did start, a big puff of blue smoke came out."
"Right. Because it had been kind of flooded. Once it was running, it was idling perfectly, wasn't it?"
"I worked the pedal quite a bit when I was trying to start it, too. So it got a lot of fuel."
"Do what you want with the car then."

OK. Let's try again.

"What do you think of getting this?"
"That chip isn't fast enough. You should get something else."
"It's actually a dual chip, so it's like two. And it runs like twice as fast on the outside as most others."
"But Windows doesn't see it as two chips, so it's a waste. It's a lot of hype."
"I did some research on it and checked into that. Windows sees it as two. I don't think it's all hype."
"Good luck."

So, at the risk of sounding like a high school English teacher, what exactly is the subtext of the last line in each of those conversations?

How about "Piss off" ?

Or maybe I'm just difficult.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Holy Shit

Not to ruin it for you or anything, but I just noticed that the home version of "Family Feud" contains the dumbest question ever conceived:

"Name something a cat might have a nightmare about."


Ok. Back to the slacking.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


My family had left by 10:30AM today, but that turns out to be plenty of time to think of two more extremely offensive things to do. For the record, I do not consider "backing into my car" offensive.

Since most of the life has been sucked right out of me, I'm done blournaling for a while.

...but I promise the next entry just may suck some life out of you.

...or it just may suck.

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Pile of Cinders

...and I thought yesterday was a day to remember.

Everyone goes home tomorrow. Good points here and there, but this has been a really rough week, and I even knew it was coming.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I Will Remember This Day Forever

Today I was handed a near-fatal insult. I spent a good part of the day moving past it with a pretty good degree of short-term success. Minutes ago, much progress was undone.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Family Survival Tip #40

If you almost literally came to blows over how to pour the remaining chicken soup out of the pot, the real problem might be something else. Even though it's obviously a one-person job and someone else is trying to double the required manpower, things should not get physical. You might regret that.

Of course, there's only so much any one person should honestly be expected to take.

Friday, December 22, 2006


That mayonnaise fiasco? That was actually yesterday's high point.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

In Staunch Support of Mayonnaise

I let a lot of things slide. I don't need to challenge every viewpoint that doesn't meet with mine. Of course, every now and then you'll hear something that makes you speak up before you can even censor yourself. This morning brought just such an occasion.

"You know, mayonnaise is actually a fairly healthy food."
"Mayonnaise is really bad for you."
"No, it's not bad for you. Look, it's got protein, calcium, soybean oil - soy is good for you. It doesn't have that much fat. Look, only 15%."
"Yeah, 15% of your whole day's supply."
"15%. That's nothing. That's a tiny amount."
"Yeah, but that's for like one shmear. What's it say? How much is that?"
"A tablespoon."
"A tablespoon? That ain't much mayo."
"Yes it is. It's a lot."
"You just put that much on your sandwich."
"No I didn't."
"Come on. A tablespoon?"
"Yeah. A tablespoon is a lot. I didn't use that much."

A tablespoon measure and a piece of bread are procured. Mayonnaise is scooped into the tablespoon.

"Now you're wasting food.
Boy, you just have to be right, don't you?"
"Look, we're both just talking out our asses here because neither one of us know exactly how much you put on."

Some mayonnaise is removed from the jar and...

"I didn't put that much on."
"How much did you put on then?"
"Half that. I could still see the bread under the mayo."
"OK, fine. Tell me when."
"Look. He's gonna waste all my mayo."
[3rd party] "It's ok. Dad will eat it."
"Dad doesn't need a mayonnaise sandwich. Don't worry about it. It's just a piece of bread. Tell me when."
"There. Let that little glob fall off."

"OK. That's like half a tablespoon."
"So 45 calories."
"For half a tablespoon?"
"45 calories isn't a lot."
"Well that much raw sugar is only 15 calories. That's quite a bit less. And consider the fat, too - I'd say mayo kind of packs a punch."
"But I'm not going to be using mayo all day."
"Yeah, but you just had bacon.
You probably hit your day's recommended limit and it isn't even noon yet."
"Well, bacon..."
"I'm just sayin' that's a pretty quick 15% to add in."
"Alright, so maybe healthy is the wrong word."
"Yeah. Maybe you meant to say 'Mayonnaise is the Devil'."
"It's not the Devil. A little won't hurt you."

Bet you wish you could have those three minutes back, too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Family Visit

Day One has nearly killed me.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Was This Rude?

On Dec 19, 2006, at 12:08 PM, Matt wrote:
So how'd the big Christmas party go? Sean said he thinks Mom and Dad are covered for Christmas gifts, but he also mentioned that he essentially got Dad, like... some beer - which is cool and all. I'm just sayin' that The Wife and I currently have a buy-in option available, so if you'd like to explore that possibility, just let us know. We got Mom and Dad a joint gift. I do not mean that we got them a "joint", or "joint"-related gift paraphernalia. That is not a good mix with beer anyway. Again, if you feel as though you're all set in this regard, I say, "Fan-freakin'-tastic." I'm just layin' it out there, that's all.

On Dec 19, 2006, at 2:36 PM, WM wrote:
OK, what the hell are you talking about, dear brother-in-law? Are you saying that we can contribute to the gift you got for Mom and Dad, and if so, what is it? We got Mom a sweater, a shirt and a necklace. We got dad "Beers from around NY," and a warm, fuzzy blanket. Did Sean leave you with the impression that all we bought them was a few beers?

On Dec 19, 2006, at 3:58 PM, Matt wrote:
Yeah. Sean told me that he got Dad " eight beers." Which, again, is cool or whatever. I just didn't know if there was one of those situations happening where, as far as Sean can tell, everything is all set, but the reality is that actually nothing is even close to set at all. Familiar with that scenario? Right. That's all.

Sounds like you're all over it. See you in a few!

Monday, December 18, 2006

See Alice

You wouldn't think by looking at my past 70+ contributions to it that I'm doing anything to make the Internet a better place, but today I believe I helped for at least a second.

I got a call from a friend who has the means and ambition, and he laid out his big idea to market "supplements" online. Now, if you're picturing a guy with his hair slicked back who lives in Miami, wears the same $425 suit everyday, and drives a Sebring convertible, you're way off, but that's what I'm picturing, too.

Bottom line is, he wanted to advertise these "supplements" in some very specific places online. Now, if you're thinking herbal Vįåĝŗá or Čĩǻŀĩš, you're wrong, but that's what I'm picturing, too. And no matter how he explained to me that, while he was most definitely peddling snake oil, it was not for purpose of providing men with a more functional crank, and it wasn't going to be advertised via e-mail. He had a fairly slick effort in mind, and cited a nationally televised example.

Still, I took a pass on the whole thing. I like to think it's possible that I helped make the Internet a more livable place today.

...for like two seconds until the dude moved on to someone else.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Exactly Where I'm At

Let the psychoanalysts say what they want, I know where holiday stress and depression come from; everyone is just freaking out about what the hell to get Dad. Mom is always happy with a sweater. Bro gets a video game. Wife wants some kind of shiny rock. It's all so easy. But what about Dad?

And it's "Hello, Paxil. Have you met Mr. Stoli? Let's get you two kids together."

So today's blournal entry is a public service announcement.

Like so many others, I woke up this AM with no gift ideas at all. Six hours later, I had found and purchased something that is freaking me out with the sheer intensity of its coolness. Allow me to introduce you to... Well, something. I like to keep this site clear of links and actual endorsements. Nobody pays me, so I promise not to do any favors in return. Anyway, check this deal:

That there's a portable GPS navigation sitchee-ation. Hadn't really given these things a second of thought before, but, holy crap - this thing is awesome. Go get one. Get any one of them. They're just plain amazing. Pretty easy to use. Tells you where you are. Tells you when and where to turn. Tells you where to get gas, where to find food, a hospital, lodging... Also plays mp3's if you want. Has a built-in battery and antenna so it doesn't require any additional wiring. Fits in your pocket. Cuts cans.

Shop around a little and you can find one for $200 on sale, and $200 splits quite nicely with a few other siblings/relatives. Besides any one of you could easily spend way more than that on Paxil in a year.

Hurry. Dad's waiting.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Santa's Little Helper

What feels like 1,000 years ago, someone bought us this...

This is a dancing Santa. Push the button between his feet and he'll dance for, oh, I'd say about day-and-a-half while you listen to an irritating sample of someone trying to sound like Chuck Berry singing "Run, Rudolf, Run". When the song finally ends, you just push the button again. And you know what? It's fun every time. I mean every single goddamn time. Weeeeee! Look at 'im go!

But about an hour ago, Uncle Matt decided he'd had all he could take. Six years of that torture is enough. Maybe a lesser Uncle would've smashed the buhjeezis out of the thing and put the pictures on the Internet for everyone to see, but hey, it's Christmas. Let's see if we can't just, you know, "fix" it a little. So while people got to decorating the tree, I decided to open 'er up and have a look.

Right. It's actually a retooled Darth Vader action figure. That all adds up.

Hey, who knew Darth Santa was packin' those kind of glutes? (I'm just being kind here. Truth is, they were actually kind of "noggy".) But, thankfully, this isn't even where I need to be. The problem isn't coming from Santa's ass at all.

Oooh, looky... A little snip and Santa is quiet as a mouse, but don't worry kids - he still dances with all the zeal of a middle-aged James Brown hopped up on bathtub crank.

It's going to be a merry Christmas after all.

Friday, December 15, 2006

"Holiday Platters Available Here"

Let me guess:

Yoo-hoo and Dorito assortment   25-
Rainbow of Gatorade with string cheese wheel   17-
Jerky Plate   42-
Seasonal Deep-fried Pocket Pies (Drake's)
      with 1/2-case of Colt .45 (Market price)
Marlboro Basket   44-

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dateline: Beijing

Photo: AP

Dateline: Beijing - Bao Xishun, the world's tallest man, was flown in from his home in Inner Mongolia at the expense of the Fushun aquarium to help remove harmful plastic from the stomachs of two dolphins who ingested the material while nibbling on the edge of the pool in which they are kept.

To minimize risk of permant damage to Mr. Xishun's nearly 3 1/2 ' arm, the dolphins' jaws were restrained with towels while he reached in and extracted the plastic pieces.

Though some smaller pieces remain, the large pieces that posed the greatest health threat to the animals have been removed and the dolphins returned to their tank, where they began nibbling on plastic from the edge of the pool.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Opting Out

In a couple weeks, Christmas will arrive and I will have a house full of relatives. At that point, this blournal will reach its zenith and my head will explode. I hope it happens in that order anyway.

And not a minute too soon, I say. I'm in another one of those phases where I'm completely sick of computers and all the clicking and the mousing and the staring at the screen, booting, crashing, bugs, the Internet, the blogs, the e-mail, the time-wasting... I'd like to cash-out, please.

I get these little spells more and more. Like lately, I've been seriously thinking about at least ditching e-mail. Face it; e-mail sucks ass. Getting a little sick of deleting the same ads every day, written using characters from four different languages, trying to sell me pills that don't do anything. Didn't I say "no" to you like 5,000 times already? - because I think that's my limit.

Ok. Let's reel 'er in right there. This ain't an all-day gripefest.

A lot of you have mentioned that you prefer it when entries have photos. Here...

Shampoo your carpets sometime.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


While many readers seem to enjoy the posts about Sparkle Moose and whatnot, a lot of you have written in asking for more entries where I criticize people I may or may not know. Thank you, but you should all know that this blournal was not strictly designed as a channel for my rage, even if someone does borrow someone else's table saw, and then fucking buries it deep within a pile of the utterly useless shit in his garage when you need to use it.

Even though this could, in one sense, be the most organized and meticulous guy you've ever met - right down to the storage bins inside the house that are all label-makered so you know just where to find the nylon tie-wraps and AAA batteries, when it comes to the garage, the philosophy boggles the motherfucking mind.

And just because I needed the saw to do a project that I volunteered to do as a family favor, it's probably selfish of me to have expected him to offer to load it up and return it himself. So when you get there and you see something like this...

it probably isn't ok to just goddamn lose it, shoot lightning from your mouth, and stomp all over the shit like it's fucking Tokyo. That is wrong.

That is not what this blournal is all about.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Sparkle Moose

How do we know it's holiday time around here?
Is it the toasty, maybe slightly out of control fire?


Is it the homemade marshmallows?

Apparently, also no.

Chicks wearing stuff like this?

Um... working on it.

Is it by the astonishingly lame blournal entries?
Come on. Now you're not even trying.

No, around here the holidays can best be summarized with two simple words:

Sparkle Moose.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hooray Widgets

I'm not pimping anything. These things are free and (assuming you're operating a computer right now) don't require any additional effort. Beyond all of that, I dig them.

Do a search for "yahoo widgets" and check it all out. Widgets are these tiny little programs that load on startup (if you want.) Not hard to explain what they do, but I'll just say that if you have a particular interest in something, there's probably a widget for it that you might want to load up. There are hundreds of them, so the odds are good that maybe a dozen or so are something you might actually find useful. I think the idea is completely stolen from the Mac OS, but the widget engine runs on Mac as well.

Here's what my desktop looks like (except I've probably changed my wallpaper, since this photo is more than five minutes old and that means I already hate it.)

I've loaded up a widget with US satellite weather (the map will animate if you want), one for e-mail notification, wi-fi signal strength, six-day forecast, CPU load, memory usage, a cool-ass calendar, analog-style clock, and one for an online retailer from which I have never purchased a thing but for some reason still like to check.

Sure, some (most) of these widgets are a little geeky, but so are computers, and you have one of those, right? But they're all kind of handy in some way. I have the CPU usage widget up there because every time I close Windows Media Player, it hangs my soundcard. The widget turns solid red, conveniently letting me know that Bill Gates is a cornholer. I mean that in a nice way.

I almost have my computer to the point where I don't really need a web browser to check the stuff I look at every day (I say "almost" because of the porn.) But there's probably a widget for most of the links you have bookmarked. They can show you what's happening with the pages you like to visit, which reduces the need to click around because it's all sitting right there in convenient, individually wrapped slices.

And blah, blah, blah. That's enough pimpin'...


Marshing My Mellow

When the jury comes in, I'll be sure to let you know how the make your own marshmallows experiment went.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Band Room

Time for your redrum lesson, honey. It's a beautiful place. You're gonna love it. Those two girls there look awfully cute together, and it looks like they want you to come play with them.

Oh, whatever. I'm already out of lame references to a movie I never really saw.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas All Over Again

I already got my Christmas gift, but I sure wish I'd asked for this instead. I would wear it so much, people would hate me. Oh, wait...

Anyway, I don't usually get two things for Christmas, but I'm almost 100% confident I will be getting one more thing this year.

A fuel tank for the car. Pretty sweet, huh? I won't be installing this one myself. Probably...

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Dude, just order a freaking sandwich already! Christ!

You can stare at the menu all goddamn day - it's just sandwiches! Pick one! It's not like you're deciding between sea bass or scallops, and are those bay scallops or sea scallops, or maybe calicos...

Ok. I'm sorry. I know your girlfriend isn't helping any. I know she kind of snapped at you once over your mutual indecisiveness, but that's probably because she's hungry. I know I've been standing here a couple of minutes already, and your head hasn't budged.

I can respect that you managed to work it out so, if she's going to talk to you, she's going to have to move herself into your current field of view, and congratulations on that one, but still, are you serious? What could you possibly be thinking that's making this so complicated? Since I'm standing here, too, I'll take a couple of stabs at it:

"Is she ever going to shut up and let me just think for a second?"
"Which one of these sandwiches will kill me?"
"Is there one that will kill me faster?"

Well, your zombie lock-on made her feel uncomfortable to the point where she told me that I could order ahead of you. Watch this:

"Can I help you, sir?"
"Yeah. Tuna, lettuce, and tomato on whole wheat."

Boom. Done. How 'bout that? Something to strive for, maybe.

On my way out, he orders a turkey sub. When asked what size, to his credit, he knew right away it was going to be a small, which comes as no shock. Those large subs are so intimidating.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Ascent of Stan

Maybe I'm wrong about it, but I believe your letter carrier isn't really allowed to hand your mail directly to you. The mail has to be delivered to the mailbox, because you could be an imposter. Taking mail from someone else's mailbox is a felony, but taking mail that the letter carrier hands to you... Not exactly indefensible.

So even if I see him, I still prefer to let my postman, Stan, just do his job and put my mail in the box. I'd say less than five times, I've had him hand the mail directly to me. That has never gone well. Every time I've ever been there to greet him at the door, he's handed me the wrong mail. Of course, we have a small chat before I even look at the mail, then he starts to walk away, I look at the letters, and by the time he's about half way to the neighbor's house, he doubles back. Then he'll usually say, "Gave you the wrong mail there." I'll be waiting for a swap and he'll say, "Looks like I've got nothin' for you." So, rather than make any sort of comment or gesture which could later lead to him killing some coworkers back at the sort facility, I suffer the indignity of the Indian gift. Kind of a bad scene.

So like I say, I just keep out of it and let him do the mail. And yeah, sometimes I'll get my neighbor's mail, but I just stand it up in the box and let Stan figure it out tomorrow. Besides, my neighbor hates me, and I don't really need to deal with that, either.

Anyway, Stan is such a mess that I rarely even leave letters to be mailed in my box for pickup. Who knows, right? But yesterday I had something I needed to mail. It was all ready to go, and here comes Stan. A couple of years ago, I probably would've handed it right to him and foolishly waited for him to hand me some letters, but knowing what I know now, I decided to just hold off. So Stan comes up the walk, drops some mail in the box, and takes off. I, of course, wait for Stan to get the the neighbor's before I even look in my box. Sure enough, Stan doubles back to my porch, sorts through some stuff, and splits. When he reaches the safe zone, I take a look in the mail box.

I'm just glad I'm not dodging real bullets.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Damned Glasses

Most of us roll our cars probably like once a year or so, right? So it should come as no surprise that a prominent politician from our proud state falls right within that national average. Ladies and gentlemen,

Ed Flanagan.

Yesterday, 'ol Ed was negotiating the same on-ramp he's undoubtedly negotiated thousands of times before, 'cept this time, he flipped 'er.

"I was getting off the ramp off of Williston Road, and suddenly there I was inside the automobile, and my automobile was upside down."

Yeah, pretty strange to be driving along and then suddenly find yourself right there inside the automobile like that. I bet I know what caused this, though. I bet it was your glasses. That's the first thing most of us blame when we flip our cars. Sometimes they just slip right off our faces. Anyway, he did say it was his "best guess".

"I don't remember that this happened, but that is the only thing that I can think of that might have happened that caused this freak accident."

Right. I mean, what other explanation could there possibly be? It has to be his glasses. I'd definitely look into it, though. Those sound like some pretty shitty glasses.

Even though it didn't go very well for him just one year ago when he flipped his car off the interstate, you might almost think that he enjoys the thrill of it.

"If anything, it's called an adrenaline rush. I've got it big time."

No, no. Infectious as it is, Ed is not in this for the thrill. He's gonna get right back on the road and be just as cautious as ever.

"I'll continue to drive.. and very safely... maybe even more safely, if that's possible,"

Come on now. How could you possibly be more safe, Ed? When I think "safe driver" I immediately think of you. Hey, not that they have any reason to doubt, but you should call your insurance company and tell 'em, "Don't worry. Now I'm going to be extra, super careful out there." They're probably thinking that anyway.

Oh, and remember a few years back when you were campaigning, and you ran all those TV ads using the Beatles' "Hey Bulldog" for the music (because you were "so bull-doggedly determined?") Yeah. You see, generally speaking, Beatle's music is fairly well-protected when it comes to usage rights and junk like that, so you not only used copyrighted material without permission, but you pretty much went for the top drawer, too. I don't know. Just always seemed like kind of an odd lapse in judgement to me.

Anyway, good luck out there on the road, and continued safe driving to you! Glad to see you getting back out there so soon after that coma you were in for a little bit. You should definitely drive more.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Box Out!

Today's pictures will be crappy. For legal reasons, I believe that's best for all parties potentially concerned.

Win or lose, it can be pretty tough to watch kids play sports. In short, team sports offers a forum for kids to learn a few of life's simple and key lessons. But there's a million ways to fuck it up.

What's going on is that it's time once again for some elementary school girl's basketball. At team 'X', girl's from the same school sign up, show up for practice, and they play. For some, it's primarily a social club; something to do with their friends. Other girls are into it a bit more and have a decent knowledge of the game. Either way, all you have to do is sign up and you're on the team.

At organization 'Y' they pool from a variety of schools. There are tryouts and consequent cuts. They build a team. They've mounted a concentrated effort to win.

Have a look at exhibit A:

Yes, I know - crappy picture. But look at the arm on that girl there. #45 seems to be making herself about as tall as she can get, but she isn't quite up the to forearm of The Wall there in light blue. Yes, those girls on D should learn how to box out, but frankly, the best she can do in this situation is just punch this other girl in the gut, take the foul, and make Big Blue shoot two from the line.

Here's Wally (background) getting herself real low, but still a whole head above #5. Hey, whatever. The tall girl gets to play, too, right? I'm sure she enjoys the game, even if that's partly because it's easy for her. (She was taller than my nephew who plays varsity football.) I just don't know that, as a parent, I'd be cheering quite as hard for her when the score has reached 46 - 8 and she stands there getting her own uncontested rebound like six times in a row until she finally gets one through the hoop. But maybe that's just me.

So what can you do, really? You've got one guy putting together a team to win games, and you've got another guy getting girls together because some them wanted to play basketball. The difference, I suppose, is that there are some girls who aren't on Team 'Y' because Coach didn't think they'd be any help.

And that's a way to fuck up winning.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


I didn't realize until after I had done it again, that I did in fact do this last year, so now I'm going to consider it a holiday tradition.

When grocery shopping this time of year, the Hostess Holiday Fruitcake always catches my eye, what with its colorful mosaic of unidentifiable ingredients. I just have to pick it up. When I do, I'm apparently surprised by it's considerable heft because it makes me go find my wife who long since moved on while I was standing there marveling at this ostensibly consumable food product that both looks and feels like a brick. So I say, "Lift this" and she very kindly acts interested.

Ok, so she doesn't act interested, but that's a tradition, too.

Look, just go pick one up sometime. I don't mean "buy it" pick one up, I mean literally pick it up and tell me it doesn't, you know, maybe command more attention than you really would've guessed. And then you, too, might just add "The Lifting of the Hostess Fruitcake" to your list of holiday traditions.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Pug You

What - it's not enough to just own the dog? You've got to get the vanity plates, too? Alright. It's your $50/year. You can let the world know that you have a dog, and you can do it in your own unique way.

Well, ok. Maybe someone else likes the idea as well, but that plate could go either way. I mean, it's pretty hard to add the suffix "tona" to "pug" and have it make any kind of sense. Either way, it isn't a vanity plate you...

... every day.
or, uh...

Aww hell.

And so on...

...and even like five years later, so on...

Friday, December 01, 2006

Compare and Contrast



My house