Pop Quiz, Hot Shot

You're in Costco, and you buy a frozen yogurt. But you drop it on the way out. What do you do?

a. Forget about it and leave

b. Go buy another one

c. Go to the counter and ask for a replacement

In my case, I went to buy another one (because it was for Katie; otherwise I wouldn't have gone back). I was about to hand the cashier the money when some other customer walked up and told her I shouldn't have to pay for it because I just dropped the other one. I tried to pay anyway, because it wasn't their fault I dropped it. I viewed it as a matter of principle. But the cashier waved off payment, and I decided that it would just cause a scene if I argued too much.

And yes, I cleaned up the one that dropped.

Why It's Great to Be a Boy

Once upon a time, all was quiet in Farmer Brown's barnyard...

Little did they know, they were being watched.



When all was still, the attack began.

The pig was the first to go.


Then, consumed by bloodlust, the velociraptor continued its attack, slaughtering every living thing in its path.
Its work finished, the dinosaur paused to stand triumphantly among the carnage. Its thirst for destruction was satisfied... for now.


Detector

I think smoke detector manufacturers secretly design their products so the “low battery” warning beeps will only sound in the middle of the night, just as you’re drifting off to sleep after you’ve been up for half an hour with your kid. I don’t know how they do it, but I wish they’d use their powers for good.

Ow

There's no standardized unit to express how much pain we're feeling. Sure, there's the 1 to 10 scale an emergency room doctor might use, but I think we need something more comprehensive. I think the fundamental unit of pain should be named the Moe, after the stooge.
 
"Oh, man. My stomach is killing me! I'm feeling 2,000 Moes over here!" Doesn't that sound better than saying, "I really, really hurt"? And if we wanted to get really creative with it, we could call pain medication Moe-phine.

On the Nose

On a baby name website I was checking out, the banner ad was for birth control. A little late for that, isn't it?

Best. Fortune. Ever.

Big Brother

Sam is going to have a baby sister at the end of April. I tried to scan the pics, but they just looked like a big blob. Then I realized that is pretty normal for an ultrasound. At any rate, you all know what they look like.

The name is still up in the air, so hit me with your best shot.

A Series of Unfortunate Decisions

Today I am going to review a film. This is unusual for three reasons:
1. I don’t do movie reviews, because everyone else seems to do them.
2. It’s a 47-year-old film.
3. I haven’t watched the whole thing yet.

The movie is How the West Was Won, a 2.5-hour series of bad decisions made by three generations of the same family. Here are some of the bad decisions made during the first two hours of the film:

1. A couple decides to head west into the wilderness with their two adult daughters and young son. Upon reaching the edge of civilization, they build a raft on which they load the family and all their worldly possessions.

2. They allow a mountain man stranger to have dinner with them and sleep in their camp one night, without watching him. One of the daughters throws herself at him, but he refuses.

3. They stop at a trading post. The traders are thieves and attempt to rob them. A fight ensues and the son is seriously wounded. The mountain man appears and saves them.

4. They take a wrong fork of the river and the raft is dashed to pieces in the white water. Their possessions are lost and the parents are killed.

5. The older daughter decides to settle on the land next to the river where the parents were killed. Because, you know, who wouldn’t want a constand reminder of being orphaned? She settles down with the mountain man.

6. They have two sons. The mountain man father and his older son decide to join the Union in the Civil War, because everybody knows war is fun. Besides, the mom and the other son can surely manage the farm by themselves. The father is killed in the war. The son briefly attempts to desert. After the war he returns home to find that his mother had died too and his brother is now managing the farm alone. He abandons his brother and heads off on his own.

7. Meanwhile, the younger daughter became a singer and dancer in some scandalous establishments. She gets word that some dead guy left her a gold claim in California for some reason. She joins a wagon train and meets a gambling scoundrel who has a thing for her. When they get to California he abandons her upon finding that her claim is already spent.

8. Insistent that she marry a rich man, she rejects multiple proposals from a kind cattle rancher who was the leader of the wagon train and who also saved her life during an Indian attack. Later she is singing on a riverboat and meets the scoundrel again (you know, the gambler who already abandoned her once) and they immediately decide to get married because now he has $1200.

I can’t wait to see how the last half hour of this train wreck plays out.

Quote of the Day

"Mom, I killed Dad!"

Gradient

Warmest room in the house: 73 degrees
Coldest room: 62 degrees

Double Standard

I am not a big fan of reality shows. Okay, that's an understatement. I loathe them. I have never watched any of them, be it Survivor, The Apprentice, or Dancing with the Bachelor. I think they are the televised equivalent of a get-rich quick scheme: they don't have to pay for writers or production values. They just steal a premise from another country and add a B-list "celebrity" host.

Anyway, this post wasn't supposed to be a rant decrying reality television. I mean, why stress something that's self-evident? No, I was wondering why it's sort of the opposite with literature. In terms of current books, I think non-fiction books are seen as more respectable than fiction. "I'm reading a biography of Gandhi" seems to be classier than saying, "I'm reading that story of the baby elephant who tags along on Hannibal's march and saves his father's life." That being said, I still prefer fiction, as I've mentioned before.

A Close Shave

New razors have that "lubricating strip" that gives you a nice, close shave for two days before it rubs off, leaving the white strip that means "better get a new razor!" Funny how the company that makes the product also tries to artificially determine how often you need to replace it. Anyway, what I wonder is this: If this lubrication is so great, why don't they put that in a can and sell it separately?

Go Fish

There's something strange about children's board games. Even when they are based on chance, somehow the children always end up winning. And I'm not talking about letting them win. For example, we have the game Cootie, in which you roll a die to add parts to a plastic bug (what, didn't you play "mad entomologist" as a child?), and Sam always somehow rolls just the right numbers.

Tonight we played Candy Land, and things appeared to be progressing as normal. Sam immediately got one of the cards that gave him an insurmountable lead, and Katie and I languished behind, doomed to battle for second place. Then, to our surprise, he ended up getting two more of those cards that sent him back almost to the beginning. Eventually I won, and then we found out why parents usually let their children win. My ears are still ringing from the screaming.

The Scary Door

You are entering the vicinity of an area adjacent to a location. The kind of place where there might be a monster, or some kind of weird mirror. These are just examples; it could also be something much better. Prepare to enter The Scary Door.
That's from Futurama, in case anyone was wondering. It's a parody of The Twilight Zone.
Seriously, though, we have a scary door in our house. It's the coat closet by the front door. It frequently opens on its own. One morning I was sitting alone in silence, eating breakfast before work, and I heard this creaking sound that nearly necessitated a change of pants. And it's even worse if you happen to be in the room when it happens, because you can see a sliver of darkness when it opens. Jibblie jibblie jibblie.

Run Your Giblets Off

This morning, in an effort to work up an appetite for the big dinner, I participated in the Utah Human Race 5k with my friend Jacob. We were surprised at how many people were willing to show up on a 25-degree morning. There were some 3600 participants. Despite the crowd, we ended up doing pretty well. Even though the 21-minute mark continues to elude me, I have to feel pretty good about 22:15.

Random Fact

If you were to hop in your car and drive at 65 mph to Proxima Centauri, the next star nearest to the sun, it would take over 43 million years. And I'm pretty sure there aren't any restroom facilities between here and there anyway.

Thanks to Jer for correcting my terrible, terrible math. Maybe 43 million years would give me enough time to master simple division.

-1 ≠ -6

Sometimes I think I'm wired funny in terms of emotions. I don't tend to get emotional if something really bad happens, but if I break a shoelace or something I will get really frustrated.

Such was the case last night. I had ordered new glasses from Costco, and I was pretty excited because I hadn't had new frames since 2001. So for two weeks I waited for them to call. Then, on a whim I stopped by the optical counter last night when I was there for something else. They were in! I took them home and put them on (I had my contacts in, so I couldn't really check them out at the store). Right eye, check. Left eye—what in the world is this? The whole world is squished, like when you watch a video on the computer and the aspect ratio is messed up. And no, I didn't still have my contact in.

I checked the numbers on the order with those on the prescription I had given them and found that in one place they had entered -6 instead of -1 (the cylinder correction measurement, if you must know), so the image was seriously distorted. Now I get to take them back in and wait another 2+ weeks. (I'm sure it will be longer than last time because of the holiday weekend.)

Synch Me

I have noticed that if I go to heat up my lunch at exactly noon, nobody is using the microwave. But if I go 10 minutes before or after that, it’s always busy. I am guessing everyone else thinks it’ll be really busy exactly at noon and tries to compensate.

It’s interesting when my thoughts are out of synch with everyone else’s. As it happens, that seems to be most of the time.

Frosty

In the winter I am always torn between a desire to save money on gas by scraping my windows and the desire to warm up my car for a few minutes before leaving for work. And the lazy side of me usually wins. But I can't hold a candle to the person who was in front of me, as far as laziness goes. Whoever it was had a hood on, so I don't know if it was a man of a woman. But this person had scraped only a small portion of the windshield directly in front of the driver, not even all the way to the rearview mirror.

Kudos to you , sir or madam. You have taken the laziness to a whole new level. It makes me want to give up even trying to be lazy.

Bugs in Jugs

I usually catch spiders in a jar and put them outside, rather than kill them. But the other day I caught one I didn’t recognize and decided to look it up. It appears to be a hobo spider. Now, most people around here believe that a hobo spider is as dangerous as a brown recluse, but there is not any real scientific evidence to back it up. So I left it in the jar for a couple days while I tried to decide whether to release it or kill it.
In the meantime, a wolf spider was running across our kitchen floor last night, and I scooped it up into the same jar. And I’m a little ashamed to admit that part of me simply wanted to see how the two spiders reacted to each other.
Soon enough, the hobo spider killed the wolf spider, and I forgot about it for the rest of the evening. Then this morning all that remained of the wolf spider was some legs and a few bits of exoskeleton. So the hobo still may or may not be dangerous to humans, but it’s a pretty tough customer anyway.


On a related note, here's an example of the signs we used to periodically post on our front door in college, courtesy of Jer.


H1N1 Flu and You

Last Wednesday Katie and Sam got H1N1 vaccinations, so I stopped worrying about them (okay, it was mostly my parents who were worrying). They opened the Salt Lake Valley Health Department website for vaccination appointments, rather than have people wait in line all night. I managed to get their appointment before all the doses were spoken for after only 14 minutes.

Anyway, this afternoon Katie got a phone call from a friend we had over for dinner last night. She just found out she has a confirmed case, so she was certainly contagious yesterday (although she naturally wouldn't have come if she had been feeling sick). So I looked up some information about the vaccine. Apparently it takes about two weeks for your body to build up the antibodies in response to the vaccine. So things could get interesting around here in the "one to seven days" that apparently constitutes the incubation period.

Parental Milestone #117

Once when I was young one of our cats had caught a bird (I think, but maybe it was a mouse) and did its thing for a while, until it went away and left the thing mostly dead. My dad put it out of its misery with a shovel and buried it. I remember being glad I wasn't the one who had to dispatch the poor creature.

Today it was our neighbor's prolific mouser who had been chasing a rat for a while in our backyard. I had to extract it from a window well and also get it out when it wedged itself under some boards (I wanted the cat to kill it, because I didn't want to have to do it myself and I didn't want this little disease vector roaming around the yard.) But in the end the cat left it mostly dead, so I had to mercifully decapitate and bury it. Fun.

Oh Shirt

I hate dress shirts. And not for the reason most men do. Most men don't get the proper size collar and therefore feel like they're choking (or they just have fat necks).
No, the reason I hate them is because the cuffs and collar always wear out way too soon. So if you're wearing a colored collared shirt (say that five times fast) it's all too soon that you start to see little points of white when there's plenty of wear left in the shirt itself. It's not a big deal if you're wearing it casually, but it just looks bad with a tie. Dress clothes should be dressy, after all.

Does this mean we should go back to old-timey shirt collars? Having never worn one, I can't say. I have a feeling they were pretty uncomfortable. But surely the clothing makers could at least dye these shirts all the way through.

Ice Ice Baby


Our ice maker has been doing weird things. Tonight I noticed that the ice cubes are all hollow, and they've only been in there for a couple of days. As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the tray for them to form around. Aliens? Probably.

Get off of My Lawn!

For the last few years it has become increasingly apparent that I am turning into an old person (i.e., anyone whose age no longer includes the suffix "-teen"), but last week I hit a new milestone. I saw some teenagers walking by the side of the road and was unable to determine whether they were wearing Halloween costumes or normally dress like that.

I guess I might as well just sit back and enjoy the ride to senility.

Dressed up and Ready to Hit the Town

To take Sam trick-or-treating, I decided to forgo the politics, so I removed the note from the knife and decided to stick something on my forehead for good measure. Here's a better view.

"Has anybody seen my keys?"

Halloween

 

And You Smell Like One Too

In a momentary fit of relative normalcy, I decided to post a few pics of Sam at the zoo on his birthday.


He was amused by the "fuzzy horns."




Almost ready to play jump rope with his arms




He would be happy if elephants were the only animal they had there.




Gorillattitude

Mildly Embarrassing Admission


I have more Halloween makeup than many women have makeup period.

Speel Cheeker

Oh, you saucy little spell checker. It wanted to replace the web extension ".org" with "orgy." I can't help but feel that would dampen the reliability of the resource.

It got me thinking, though. One of these days I'm going to accept all the spell checker's proposed changes in a document and see what awesomeness ensues.

Would You Like to Take a Survey?

My thoughts as I read the survey BYU recently sent me (twice, when I didn't return it quickly enough the first time they sent it):

Dear Joel,
Congratulations on your 2006 graduation from BYU!

Better late than never, I suppose.

As President of BYU, I invite you to complete our Alumni Questionnaire, which we send to each BYU graduate three years after graduation.

I wouldn't have capitalized "president" in that usage, but whatever. Okay, let's see how you close the letter.

I express appreciation in advance for your participation.

You "express appreciation," eh? Gee, that's almost the same thing as actually saying "thank you." That's like punching someone in the face and saying, "I express my regret." It's also kind of a heavy-handed assumption that I will actually take the time to answer 15 pages worth of questions. At any rate, let's move on and look at some of the content.

Indicate how well each of the following statements describes you now.

As I listen to a speaker, I formulate questions in my mind that I want the speaker to answer in order to clarify what he or she believes and why he or she feels that way.

Well, duh. How could anyone not do that?

I choose and implement reading strategies that fit the type of material I am reading and the purpose for which I am reading.

Of course! I can't so much as scan the headlines on Google News without implementing some sort of strategy.

I am generally happy with my life.

Aside from being guilted into filling out the occasional nosy, hopelessly general survey, sure.

I can describe, interpret, and evaluate works of art in their historical, social, and cultural contexts using relevant aesthetic criteria.

Web comics count, right?

How competent are you in your ability to evaluate proposed cause and effect explanations in terms of believability of other likely causes?

If I could do that, I probably could have prevented you from sending me this stupid survey.

Philology Will Get You Nowhere

I'm amused when people ask me language-related questions. First of all, they always preface these questions by saying, "Hey, Mr. Linguist…" Then they proceed on the assumption that I have memorized the entire Oxford English Dictionary (all 23 volumes) and am therefore qualified to detail the etymology of the phrase "liar, liar, pants on fire."

I should be flattered, although I am torn between annoyance that they presume so much and shame that I don't really know everything.

Check Mate

Recently we ran out of checks (I'd rather not use them at all anymore, but there are occasions when it's necessary) and Katie called our bank to order them. The woman she talked to kept trying to get her to spend more money on multiple boxes and faster shipping. She resisted those but in the end wasn't sure exactly what had been ordered because the woman was a fast talker.

The checks came in the mail yesterday and, to my horror and vast amusement, they are pink, with roses on them and a big ol' pink ribbon up in the corner by our names. At least they're better than those horribly inappropriate "Save the ta-tas" car magnets...

I'll Come Back for You

Saturday morning we noticed an unfamiliar car parked in front of our house. This is not terribly unusual, given our neighbors. So I didn't give it much thought until I finally realized it had been there for days with the window open, apparently unmoved. Tonight I went out and took a closer look, and I saw that the glove compartment was open, the contents scattered on the seat. So I decided it had been stolen and abandoned. I reported it to the county sheriff's office right as a sheriff's vehicle happened to be pulling in to the neighbors' yard (their son is a sheriff or deputy or whatever). I mentioned it to him and he took a look.

Within half an hour it looked like the owner had arrived to claim her vehicle. It was apparently in bad enough shape that they couldn't get it started, but at least they now know what happened to their vehicle.

It only took me 3 days to be suspicious enough to be spurred to action...

Unintended Rites of Passage

This afternoon Sam played at a nearby park, and I noticed that he had gotten a sliver in his hand. I ended up having to get out a needle and the rubbing alcohol. He was pretty brave, once I gave him a Dum Dum and put on a cartoon. I remember my dad digging slivers out of my hands when I was a kid. Good times.

My First Thought of the Day

As soon as my alarm went off, my first thought was this: Why is waking up so tiring?

Bottleneck

Every business has one place where the path through is narrow, and for some reason people tend to congregate there to talk, like a blood clot. It always seems to happen when you’re in a hurry and need to get through. If you dislodge the clot, it causes a stroke, by which I mean a bunch of nasty glares.

Apology of a Lurker

To many of my blogging friends on whose blogs I rarely comment:

I really do read your blogs. I subscribe to them in Google Reader and read every post. But since, as many of you are painfully aware, my comments tend toward the snarky, I usually refrain from saying anything about your family reunion or birthday party or other family activities, lest you terminate our friendship. It's for your own good, really. I will try to do better.

If you weren't linked above, I am probably better at commenting on your posts. It's up to you whether you're relieved or mortified.

Billboard

Here's what the billboard said; try to guess what it was selling:

Finally getting a D is a good thing!

Future Events I Dread

-Having to clean out my gmail inbox because I ran out of space (I'm at 5300 emails and counting)

-The day I decide I am bald enough that I need to shave my head to maintain any dignity

-Losing my memory

-The day I decide I need to go on a diet

-Getting bifocals

-Losing my memory

-The day it becomes illegal to eat seafood due to overharvesting

If I Were a Mailman...

... I would be tempted to take people's Netflix movies home and watch them before turning them in. One day difference in getting the next movie wouldn't be noticed on occasion.



That's Just Grate

I have something of an adversarial relationship with our cheese grater. For some reason, applying force to food with my hand an inch or two away from a series of sharp metal edges frequently results in loss of blood. And last night it happened again. I now have 3 or 4 scars on my hands courtesy of our graters.


Still, it's worth it for the deliciousness of cheese (and, in the case of a couple of those scars, homemade hash browns).

To Blave

Last night Sam fell asleep on our bed, and I carried him downstairs after a few minutes. When I picked him up, he said "ee boo er," which reminded me of that scene from The Princess Bride.

PetEx

All the comings and goings of pets in our household this year has given me an idea. I think it would be interesting to create a pet exchange for people who are tired of their current one and would like to try something different. Obviously many animals become stressed when their environment changes too much, so you don't want one poor cat going to a different family every week. But if you have a giant tortoise, for example, chances are it's going to outlive you anyway, so maybe switching it up every few years would be nice. And it gives you an additional threat when you buy the puppy and tell your kids they better feed it or you're getting rid of it.

Dewey, you fool! Your decimal system has played right into my hands!

Tonight we went to the library to get Sam some new books. We ended up going to the branch I went to as a kid. As soon as I walked in, the first thing I noticed was how small it seemed. It had probably been 12 years since I had been there. In no time at all we had 15 books to check out, including a couple I had been wanting to read for a while (one of these days I'm bound to find Waldo). So it was fun to remember that I don't always need to buy a book to read it, and that it's enjoyable to just be around so much knowledge.

Taste Test Results

They may like toothpaste, but in a taste test one out of one mouse preferred the chocolate. And now he's enjoying the snacks in mouse heaven.

Who Needs a Lap Dog?

Seriously, who says reptiles can't be cuddly? He sat there watching TV with me for quite a while.

Monty Python

I would like to introduce the newest addition to our family:

A friend of my sister needed to get rid of her ball python at the same time I was considering a new pet (but then, it seems like I'm always considering a new pet). So I decided to take him. Katie didn't object too much.

At any rate, we need to give him a name. So far the best suggestion is Monty; can you beat that?

Takin' All Bets

Well, my mouse adventures continue. I guess I never explained that the area where I work has undergone a lot of development lately, so land they had been roaming is now full of buildings, driving them indoors. So it’s not that I work in a filthy place.

Anyway, last night one of the little critters got into my desk again. This time it was my tube of toothpaste that was victimized. We’ve had that happen before; apparently they either really like toothpaste or they are increasingly concerned about their oral health. Last time I caught the mouse with chocolate, so this time I decided to bait two traps: one with toothpaste and one with chocolate. We’ll see if his sweet tooth or his desire to whiten his teeth wins out. Any predictions?

Check Mate

I like to pretend that I'm a person of above-average intelligence. I guess everyone does, really, so maybe I'm just being delusional. Anyway, one thing I feel I should be good at but am not is chess. I have known the rules since I was little, but maybe I just never played it enough to develop any real skill at it.

I’m honestly not sure I have ever won a game. When I was in Korea I learned how to play Chinese chess. I later taught it to someone else, and he beat me his very first game. I guess sometimes our role in life is only to make others feel better about themselves.

Movin' on Up

My friend Todd is looking to buy a condo. He has seen a bunch of them and is trying to narrow things down, so for fun our family went with him last night. When we got to the first place, we found that in order to get to the elevator we needed a code to unlock the door. The code appeared to be among the information we had, but it wasn’t working. Eventually we accidentally buzzed some guy in his apartment who was kind enough to instruct us on getting in. So we went upstairs and found the place, and nobody was there to let us in. The tenant had promised to be there until 6:30, and we got there at 6:43 (although we had surely been standing in the lobby at 6:30 and saw nobody leave). After a few phone calls between realtors, we were told the tenant would be there after 8, so for the time being we moved on.

The second place we went to also required a code to get in the door, but this time there was a lock box outside that the realtor could open to get a key. But I guess realtors are in the middle of changing their key system, so it took forever to get it working (eventually Todd figured out the problem—way to go, Todd). Once we got in the door we walked up the stairs to the third floor, only to find ourselves confronted with another lock. After trying what we thought was the code, we realized that we needed to just take the elevator up. So we went back downstairs, found the elevator, and everything was fine from then on (except that when we went back to the first place there was still nobody there).

All in all, it was an interesting experience, and the realtor (who is my cousin, and helped Jer buy the house we’re living in now) said that by the time we are actually buying our own place, we’ll be pros after seeing so many places with other people.

Dumb Foam

It's been a while since I've made an embarrassing confession, so here we go. Every day I pass what used to be the 49th Street Galleria (then the Fun Dome, then some pet center) and is now an empty building. I am a little ashamed to admit that miss it. Sure, it was generally a place where stupid teens hung out doing stupid things, but there was a time when I fulfilled both those requirements (whereas now I can only meet the latter). I actually had some good times there. So next time you drive by the ghostly, mirror-windowed relic, I hope you'll spare a moment or two to contemplate the evanescence of youth. Or at least think about that one time you cheated at skee ball.

Plumbing the Depths of Success

On Saturday Katie cleaned the bathroom. And when she cleans, she cleans. Things end up looking all shiny and sparkly like in a commercial. So it was disappointing when that very night our tub clogged and was left nearly full of standing water. We decided to let it sit all night and see if it drained.

The next morning it had only drained a couple of inches, so we knew things were bad. I couldn't even put any drain cleaner down there until I bailed with a bucket. So I emptied the entire tub (Katie was mortified at the horrible ring it left) and put the drain cleaner down there. No dice. Later I tried a fancy gel kind of drain cleaner. That also didn't work. I jammed a coat hanger way down there and wiggled it around to see if I could find something. Nope.

The last thing I could try, thanks to a suggestion from my dad, was to use a plunger on the tub. Presto! The clog was dislodged, and I scrubbed the tub so Katie wouldn't have to again. Sam got his bath before bedtime, and all is well.

Shortcut

Here is the cemetery near our house:


There's a nice path for me to run on without fear of being hit by a car:



Except some people seem to think it's more efficient to cut through the cemetery (yellow) than to drive around it (pink):



It is worth disrespecting a cemetery to cut maybe 30 seconds off your drive? (Though in truth the slower speed probably prevents this.) Am I being just as disrespectful by running there?

All the world is waiting for you

This morning I have the theme song from the Wonder Woman TV show stuck in my head (Katie has been getting them from Netflix). This song is the epitome of the decade the world would love to forget. Can you think of a worse theme song?

Doppleganger

Did you ever have a friend who shared your name? What was it like? Did one of you use a truncated version to differentiate between the two of you? My name has rarely even cracked the top 100 most common male names, so I don't run into another Joel terribly often. But there was one other one I knew in my junior high. Mostly we would pass each other in the halls, each saying "Hi Joel" at the same time. Now that I think about it, that was pretty much the extent of our friendship.

More or Less

Given what I do for a living, it should come as no surprise that I have my share of neuroses about the English language. For the most part I appease the grammar demons at work, so I don't sit around picking apart errors in the speech of others in casual conversation. But there's one thing that has really been bothering me lately, and because I'm not aware of a proper term for it I'm going to call it "null measurement." It's measuring things by the wrong term. For example, someone might say "twice as cold." There's no such thing as a measurement of cold, only warmth or the absence of warmth. So you are really talking about something that is only half as warm. It's the same with "ten times less." Does that mean one tenth? I have no idea. But I ran across that term today on the Popular Science website, and it seems like in a scientific context it's especially important to be precise.

Family Matters

Right now our neighbors across the street are having some sort of family function. So far there are 18 vehicles parked at and around their house. Before long we'll be unable to get out of our driveway. If nobody hears from us by Monday, send help.

Healthscare

I've been thinking a lot lately about the so-called healthcare debate (much as I try to avoid it—I mean, even the monsters on Sesame Street are talking about it), and it's easy to see the viewpoint of both sides. Everyone wants affordable healthcare, but one side thinks that to keep costs down you have to involve the government, and the other side thinks you have to let the market regulate itself.

In reality, however, the only way for the health system to recover is for each American to do three things:

First, get off the couch. Getting 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week would make everyone healthier. You start to see the benefits right away, and there's less chance of your future involving lengthy discussions including words such as "statin" and "monstrous."

The second step is closely related to the first. It would help us all if, every day, we each tried to eat something that is still recognizable as coming from some sort of plant. I'm not saying we should all go vegan (I believe strongly in the bacon group), but it could hardly hurt us to get some fruits and veggies into our lives.

Finally, we need to stop suing the pants off of each other, especially when it comes to medical problems. Sure, if your doctor sews your leg to your shoulder and your arm to your waist, you have a legitimate complaint (though you may want to have someone else sign the forms if it's your writing hand that is now wearing a sock). But if you got a scar from your brain tumor removal, the doctor still saved your life, so get over it. I'm told that one reason doctor's office visits cost so much is because malpractice insurance is horrifically expensive due to the sheer number of suits.

If everyone followed these guidelines, it would ease a large portion of the burden from the healthcare system. People would still get sick, but the obesity rate would go down, as well as treatment costs for all the associated diseases. The lessened demand on the system would result in lower costs. The only way to fix this is for us all to fix ourselves. Otherwise, the government is going to keep trying to force their solutions on us. And frankly, it would cost less than a trillion dollars a year to make us all eat broccoli every day.

Today's Coinage

Today's new phrase is "burning the dollar bill at both ends," used to describe the time of year when you have to start using the furnace at night and still need to use the a/c during the day.

The Mouse and the Grouse

During my lunch today I went out back to our warehouse, where I usually make phone calls, and I noticed a mouse sitting by the back door. I think it was injured, because even when I tried to prod it out the door with a broom it was reluctant to move. I ended up sweeping it into a long-handled dust pan and putting it out back. It probably won't survive, but if it hangs around inside it will be killed for sure. Besides, I've had enough parasite-ridden visitors to my snack drawer over the past couple years. And I'm not just talking about that guy with the tapeworm.

Hooked

Yesterday I went fishing with my dad. Apparently I don't have enough chances to develop patience in my daily life, so I seek out voluntary opportunities to do it. Anyway, for the last couple years we've been using float tubes which look something like this:


For some reason, sitting in the water like this always makes me need to go to the bathroom. So after a while, I decided to head to shore for a pit stop. I had not been having any luck up to that point, so I decided it wouldn't hurt to leave my line in the water while I did (although it turns out that, unknown to me, you're not allowed to leave a pole unattended without a special permit). At any rate, when I came back, I climbed back into the tube to find that a fish had hooked itself. I don't know exactly what the moral of the story is. Be more lazy?

Dreams within Dreams

Last night I dreamed that I was pushing a piano. I lost control and it ended up down a flight of stairs, but it ended up perfectly intact. Then later on in the dream I ended up outside my car as it drove off, driverless, miraculously avoiding a collision as it careened through an intersection. I'm sure a psychoanalyst would have some obvious insight about feeling like I have no control in my life. Anyway, I also remember thinking it would make a good blog entry. Even in my dreams you people won't leave me alone...

Overlooking a Four-Leaf Clover

A few weeks ago, a website I frequent had a contest in which you could enter to win a DVD set by simply leaving a comment to the article. I left my comment and then promptly forgot about it.

This morning I got an email announcing that I had won. I almost instinctively flagged it as spam, but fortunately I opened it and found that I was one of the lucky winners. It felt great to win something, because I never really have won anything, as far as I can recall. Then, on a lark, I decided to see how many people had entered. It turns out that they gave away 10 of those sets, and only 41 people were entered. So it's nice to win something, but I'm not ready to start buying Lotto tickets.

It's Back!

For those of you who once upon a time believed I might finish something I started, I have been nagged enough into posting something new on my fiction writing blog. I decided to start writing a story with absolutely nothing in mind and just see where it ended up. If you want to read it and need an invitation to view it, let me know.

Dear Diary

This morning I was thinking about journal writing, and how terrible I am at it. I got a journal when I was in elementary school, and for a while I was good about using it (Side note: I wrote in my journal with a pencil I was given for getting second place in our school's aluminum can collecting drive; the first-place winner got a hot air balloon ride—no, I'm not joking).

But then, when life actually started to get a little more eventful, I stopped writing. Now that I'm (legally, according to the judge) an adult, this should be the time of my life when I really get into it. Then I thought about the reason for journal writing, and there are two main purposes, as far as I can tell: keeping a personal history, and telling people in the future exactly who you were. While I mostly tangentially mention actual life events, I think this blog does a fair job of capturing my personality.

Does blogging replace journal writing for you?

Oh, Arnold

Last night I dreamed that Arnold Schwarzenegger was singing his own version of the song Tomorrow from Annie, and he was horribly out of tune.

Now Playing... Again!

Last night I experienced something I never thought I would. I was in a movie theater, and the show started a full 10 minutes early. When we walked in, the previews were nearly done. It was so nice to see one start early rather than late.

Of course, then a ton of people came in late and apparently complained enough to make the management restart the movie. It was okay, though, because I got to watch the first 20 minutes over again. It was great to catch some of the subtle nuances in the plot I missed the first time around, which is especially important in such a cinematic oeuvre as G. I. Joe.

In Stock

A few months ago, I took a look at the financial crisis and had the same thought I'm sure we all have, namely "How can I make money off of this disaster?" And, since last year my 401(k) not only made no money but also lost about 60% of what I paid into it, I decided to see if I would have more success managing my own investments rather than letting the so-called experts pick stocks. But since I always preferred colorful Monopoly money to the real thing, I set up a profile on Google Finance to see how I would do. Here are the results after around 4 months (I didn't actually note the day I started):

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. I'm up 10% so far. If this keeps up, I'll open my own stock brokerage firm that uses high-tech methods for picking stocks, such as monkeys and dartboards.

Shoo Beetle, Don't Bother Me

So, in case you thought I was exaggerating the other day...

I just gathered these up this evening. And these are the ones that weren't in hard-to-grab places like windowsills.

Progress

It's a sad comment about our society when I walk into a room, smell fruit, and automatically assume it's some sort of lotion rather than the real thing.

IM Snippet

me: I (possibly) have jury duty next week

nathan: Oh, I haven't heard anything from them.
I guess people just hate me.
Pretty depressing when you don't even qualify for jury duty.

me: I just want what we all want—the opportunity to condemn someone to be executed. And in the end, isn’t that the American dream?
I see you as someone having a more active role in the proceedings than just a juror anyway.

nathan: Well, I hope your dream of condemning a man to death eventually comes true.

me: That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me

Tender Tootsies

I can't believe I just typed the word "tootsies."

There is some evidence out there that the best way to avoid running injuries is to condition yourself to run barefoot. The idea is that supportive shoes allow the muscles and connective tissues in the foot and lower leg to weaken, and they allow you to run with an unnatural stride. Barefoot running strengthens these muscles and makes you pay more attention to the feedback your body is giving you, which allows you to make adjustments before you get injured.

Since my marathon hopes this year have been dashed anyway, I decided there was no better time to start over and condition myself to run barefoot. So last night I headed to the nearest high school track, which I figured would be a good surface for my first barefoot run. I had been doing more barefoot things lately, even walking around the neighborhood, so I figured a relatively cushioned surface like a track would be doable.

You're supposed to start with very short distances, like ¼ mile, but I figured I could handle a little more. So I ran a full mile, and I think some of the people there were looking at me funny. But it was fun, until I realized that I was getting a lovely crop of blisters on my feet. So the lesson here is that when you are trying something new and someone says to start slow, you should listen or you may end up walking like a duck for a couple days.

Ready for My Closeup

I love seeing clues about people on their cars, whether it be the hula girl on the dash or the bullet hole in the trunk. This morning's find, however, takes the cake. I first noticed the big sticker in the back window that said "Actor." Well, that person either has a serious need to be acknowledged or it's just a joke. So I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But then I saw his vanity plate: MVE-ACTR. Yes, folks, what we have here is a genuine "movie actor." You know, a real A-lister. I mean, doesn't Brad Pitt drive around with a bumper sticker that says "No, seriously, I'm an actor. I have an IMDB page and everything"?

Insecticide II: This Time It's Personal

I guess I spoke too soon when I said we had no more pets. The box elder bugs we had at our old place must have told their relatives in our new area that we are good people to be around, because they're seriously invading our house. They're walking around the floor all day, hanging out in the sink for some reason, and dying in our lamp again. I am all for "live and let live," but last night Katie found one in the soup we made for dinner (yes, Jer, the soup you ate with us). It's time for the bugs to get out, and I'm going to pack their tiny suitcases for them.

Door to Bore Sales

I suppose the whole "spoonful of sugar" idea really can be used to help you make the most of unpleasant situations. And I am all about enjoying the awkwardness of life. Therefore, I have something new I am going to try next time someone comes to my door selling something. Their sales pitches are always long and boring, so I will tell them they have 3 sentences totaling no more than 45 seconds in order to present their offer to me, at which point I will decide whether they are worth listening to.

Guaranteed Fresh

I have a problem with expiration dates on food and other perishable items. For one thing, expiration dates on things like chips are ridiculous. It’s not like on that day they suddenly become inedible, they’re just gradually becoming stale by that point.

The other problem is that whether or not something has been opened makes a big difference. You might buy some bacon, for example, that has an expiration date of a couple months from now. But once you open it, doesn’t the expiration date move up considerably? I don’t care how long my food is able to sit in the package without rotting, I want to know how long I have to eat it once it’s been opened.

Bonus Birthday

At some point we realize birthdays are no big deal and sort of give up on doing anything special with them. It's sad in a way, because it seems like depriving our inner child of cake starves him to death.

Wow, I didn't intend for that to be so depressing.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to my birthday in 2012. It's what I call the "bonus birthday," because that's the year my birthday would be on a Sunday, but the leap year causes it to skip it. Because, let's face it, Sunday birthdays are the worst, since you feel kind of guilty if you have any fun.

When's your bonus birthday?

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Two Amazing Things

1. The people who make plastic things for cars never realize how the sun's heat magnified through the windshield can destroy just about any material man can create.



2. I don't think I could do this until I was a teenager.







Confession Time Again

I actually kind of like Microsoft. Shh! Don't repeat it!

I got some horrible virus on my laptop, and all my efforts to remove it failed. Then it disabled my Windows registration, so I couldn't even log on. So I eventually gave in and sent an email to Microsoft tech support (from a different machine, obviously). They actually called me, and over the course of 4 or 5 hours of phone calls over the course of a few weeks we actually got the problem fixed. So they actually responded to me, and their people stuck with it until they solved the problem. Who knew the evil empire was capable of some good too?

Goodbye, Reggie

Well, in the course of a couple months we went from two pets to zero pets. We gave the chinchilla away, and last week we decided to set Reggie the snake free (since she was wild-caught anyway). We took her to Wheeler Farm, which has some big wooded areas and plenty of water. She hadn't been eating lately, and I figured if she was sick it would be better for her to die free than in a cage. I also had a selfish motivation, of course: Sam was sad to see her go, but maybe not as sad as he would have been if she had died at home.

I admit it's nice to not have any extra mouths to feed, but I'm sure we'll find something interesting to pick up sometime soon. It could be anything: a tarantula, skink, or parakeet.

Just kidding—I don't ever want a pet bird.

A Hairy Question

Sometimes I title the post before writing it, and then I have to stop and cringe for a moment.

Anyway.

I go through periods of wearing contacts and periods of just wearing glasses. Whenever I get contacts anew, I have an overwhelming desire to grow some sort of facial hair. I don't know why, exactly. It's mostly curiosity to see how it would look, I suppose.

This time I decided to go all out and see if I could grow a full beard. Today is day 10 without shaving, and I think it's time to decide whether to allow this monstrous experiment to continue or stop before I further humiliate myself.

I think the main problem is a mixture of different colored hairs that result in a look of sparse scruff. Or maybe I just need to give it more time. So your question is, do I get rid of it, go with something more minimal like a goatee (not being Tom Selleck, I am not going to get away with a mustache alone), or give it up and revert to my usual clean-shaven, respectable self?

The Whole Nine Yards

When we moved into our new place, we knew there would be a steep learning curve as far as taking care of the (seemingly) acres of garden and grass. Little did we know, however, that the livelihood and sanity of so many others depend on how someone else's yard is taken care of. We have had several yard care people come to our door and mention that they always did this or that for the people who lived there before. They also implied that it's a shame that the yard is not what is used to be.

We also have a neighbor who does landscaping. When we moved in, he kindly offered to help us out with any yard issues that might arise. Then a couple weeks ago he stopped by to make sure we knew how to use the sprinklers (although he didn't quite say it that way), because the front lawn is looking kind of dry despite daily watering. Yesterday he apparently walked up to the house and pulled a weed just outside the living room window. And he told our landlord that he wanted to teach us how to trim the rose bushes. Then I came home from work yesterday to find that he had trimmed them himself anyway.

This is starting to be less of a "kind neighbor" situation and more of a creepy outdoor version of The Hand That Rocks the Cradle or something.

Incongruous


Referring, of course, to the wear of the letters on my keyboard.

Pheidippides I Ain't

Well, I'm out of the running, as it were. It will probably be between 1 and 2 months before I can run again. But at least I didn't have to wear that big clunky boot some people do (the doctor said it might help recovery time, but since I'm missing the marathon either way, I'd rather not look like a—well, gimp).

As an interesting side note, I told my mom the name of the doctor I went to, and it happened to be the guy who botched a toe surgery on her a couple years ago. Small world.

Two Bits a Gander

When we moved a few months ago, I left a few boxes packed. They just have all the junk that I can’t quite bring myself to throw out but never need. Among these are a few items of obsolete electronics. I like to think that one day I’ll show them to children and grandchildren, who will be amazed and amused that we had all these different implements to do what their one tiny all-in-one device does far better.

I call this collection my “museum of outdated electronics.” It’s really not much, but I don’t have a lot of use anymore for a 35mm camera (and an Advantix one too), super thin portable CD player, and even a minidisc player. It all still works, too, but it’s not worth a dime anywhere.

What else should I add to my museum? I’m thinking in terms of my own lifetime, so I’m not going to try to get ahold of UNIVAC or anything.

Yum

You know those chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches you can get at convenience stores? I enjoy them immensely. But you know what's even better? Making one with home-made chocolate chip cookies and raspberry cheesecake ice cream.

I'm not posting a picture because it will make me hungry every time I look at it.

Going Nowhere

I am amazed at the multitude of things that can go wrong with even one area of your body (or car, but that's a topic for another day). Seriously, the Injury Forum at Runnersworld.com has 11,000 topic pages. Anyway, I was in the middle of a run yesterday when I decided pushing through the pain any longer might aggravate whatever was bothering my foot. So I ended up walking 4 miles back to the car, wincing at every step. A little internet research indicates that I probably have a stress fracture of the heel bone. I guess I'll head to the doctor to find out.

It's funny to me that I had been worrying about getting a stress fracture in my tibia, and then this came on without any warning. At any rate, if that proves to be the case I can say so long to the St. George Marathon this October...

Cemetery Home Evening

Last night I went on a walk with Sam to give Katie a little peace and quiet. We ambled over to the cemetery, where Sam attempted to find the tree he likes climbing. At one point we walked past a family sitting in lawn chairs around a grave, setting off some small fireworks, acting as if that were the most normal thing in the world. It really looked like they were there for the evening.

There comes a point when you have to let someone go.

Acting My Age

I decided to take the Real Age online quiz for fun. I originally took it about 3 years ago, and I remember liking it because it told me I was almost 10 years younger physically than I am chronologically. So I decided to try it again, but I couldn't remember my password. I had them send the password to my email account. I must have been frustrated at the fact that I had to register to begin with, because the password I had chosen was "poop."

Oh, and I'm apparently 19.3. Not too shabby.

Pet Karma

You know how sometimes parents won't let their kids get a dog until they prove they will take care of a smaller animal, like a fish? It's a lot like the idea of karma. If you're good, you work your way up to a dog or pony or whatever, but if you don't feed the pets, you end up with less and less sophisticated forms of life, until you end up with some lichens on a rock.

Give Me All Your Money! See You Next Tuesday...

The other day I stopped at a grocery store I don't normally shop at. I was about to pull into a parking space when I noticed that this particular space was reserved for the police. I decided I don't need to shop at a store that requires police presence often enough to designate a space for them.

My Somnolent Career

Last night I dreamed that I was at my parents' house and they were giving me some food to take home. My mom asked if I wanted some peas, and I said, "Peas? On Earth?" Everyone thought this was hilarious, because in my dreams I am a killer comic.

Taking the "Die" out of Diode

I've had an on-again, off-again relationship (pun definitely intended—I mean, who would want a perfectly good pun to go to waste?) with the shower radio I've had for a year or two. First it got water in the display, so I had to leave it tuned to one station or be lost forever. Then it's fallen off the wall a few times, but it kept more or less working.
Then a couple months ago it fell only a few inches onto the window sill and decided it would stop working entirely. I kept it hanging there, because it has a mirror that is handy to use while shaving. Then this morning I noticed that the display was partially working, so I decided to try turning it on. Huzzah! It works again! The consumer electronics fairies have been good to me. I think I'm going to leave a plate of batteries out for them.

Hello, Fadder

I've been meaning to post about this for a few days but kept forgetting.

Last Sunday, a number of different people kept wishing me a happy Father’s Day, which was very kind of them. The thing is, it seems odd to me for Father’s Day (or Mother’s Day) wishes to extend outside the immediate family. I will wish my parents a happy Father’s Day, but it even feels weird if they give me a Father’s Day card. It just seems different from a holiday such as Christmas, when you can extend season’s greetings to anyone (or could until a few years ago, anyway). What do the rest of you highly intelligent people think?

My Conversation with Myself This Morning

To the guy in front of me: "You drive a little timidly for someone with a skull in his back window..."

Write in Peace

I remember the first time I learned of the death of an author I enjoyed. It was Peggy Parish, who wrote the Amelia Bedelia books, as well as a series about 3 siblings who solved various mysteries. I was in elementary school at the time, and it just seemed unfair.
Next came news of the death of Roald Dahl, which was a crushing blow for humanity as a whole. I don't think that needs any further explanation.
Then, in late 2007, I learned that Robert Jordan, the author of the Wheel of Time series, had died before completing the 13th and concluding book of the series. So, after some 8,000 pages setting up the most intricate story conceivable, the series is being completed by another author.
And tonight I made another heart-breaking discovery. This time the author is Donald Westlake, author of some of my favorite books: a series of comic crime novels revolving around a character named John Dortmunder. I was checking Amazon.com in anticipation of the publication of Dortmunder's latest exploits when I learned that next month's release is to be his final caper. I feel as though I have lost a dear friend.

No Thanks, I Just Smelled a Candy Bar

I read somewhere recently that someone opened a bar in which the air is saturated with alcohol so you will eventually get drunk just breathing the air. This led me to wonder if you could saturate the air with nutrients which you could breathe in and get into your bloodstream. I don't know if it's possible; alcohol molecules are probably much smaller than vitamins and such. So it's still probably impossible to be a breatharian, and it is just too much fun to eat.

Dated

Wouldn't it be fun if everyone always dressed in clothing styles that were popular the year they were born?

Mystery Digit

Okay, this is a weird one. I noticed a few months ago that one of my pinky fingernails grows little raised circles, one after the other. I tried and tried to get a good picture, but this is the best I could do.

Here they are, highlighted so you know where to look.

It's just weird! Now I bet you're checking out your own fingernails...

Ah, Fudge!

A few days ago Katie made some fudge. Unfortunately, she put in a little too much condensed milk, so it ended up not solidifying terribly well. So we were eating it from spoons (it still tastes good), and then I realized that it works great for spreading on graham crackers like chocolate frosting. Presto, delicioso!

Mushrooming

It's mushroom season, apparently. I've seen a number of different fungi around the yard in the last few days, since it's been so rainy. But I have never before seen a mushroom quite like these (assuming they are even a fungus):


I'm guessing they are baby triffids. Does anybody have any other ideas?

Today's Trenchant Statement

"The natural state of being for woman is discontent; for man, it is complacency."

Discuss.

The Vipers

I have a problem with windshield wipers. And, what with the rain we've been getting lately, it's really been bothering me. I have never driven a car that had the wipers work at the speed I wanted. They're somehow always too slow or too fast for the rain. If they're too slow, you can't see anything, and if they're too fast they squeak across the windshield. Even in cars with a delay system, you just get it right and the amount of rain changes so it's wrong again.

Yes, some days I really have to stretch to find something to complain about.

Face It

Some of you know this already, but some of you may not. Last weekend I gave in and joined Facebook. Now I feel like I lost a small piece of my soul. But from what I understand, I can fool myself into thinking that hole is filled by getting as many "friends" as possible (sarcasm definitely intended). But I take comfort in knowing that so many of you will be there with me in social networking hell.

Still Learning

This morning I learned something about how the air currents in our house are. The garbage in our kitchen is against the wall, by the door to the living room. When I got up this morning, I noticed that there was something in the garbage that seriously reeked. But the smell was actually worse in the living room. So there you have it.

Thought Jambalaya

I think every occupation has its curse—that one thing you can't enjoy as much anymore, because you now know too much about something. For example, I bet hot dog factory workers don't run to the store too often for a package of what they make.

In my case, I spend too much time thinking about words. On my way to work this morning, I noticed a truck that had the words "Superior Meat Distributors" painted on it. I was caught in a temporary brain loop wondering if it was the meat or the distribution that was superior.

As I was pondering this, I noticed brake lights ahead of me (I was on the freeway). As I slowed down, I saw a police car apparently swerving all over the freeway. I couldn't get a clear look at what was going on because of the cars in front of me, but I kept seeing a police car with its lights flashing, swerving back and forth. I wondered if they were chasing someone on foot, or if a drunk had somehow commandeered a police cruiser.

Eventually the car pulled off to the side of the freeway, allowing us to pass. As I did so, I saw a highway patrol officer picking something up off the side of the road. I like to think her hat blew off and she was chasing it all over the road, but, sadly, I don't think that was it.

I Don't Recommend This

Yesterday morning I dropped a full can of shaving cream on my foot in the shower. It hurt.

No, my pants are dangerous!

We often have to tell Sam to stop doing something because it's dangerous. He's caught on, and now when we try to make him do something he doesn't want to, he uses the same excuse. So, when I was trying to wrestle him into his pajamas last night, that's what he told me.

Pine Fresh


This is less that two weeks' worth of pinecones our tree out back has shed. It seriously takes about as long to pick these up in order to mow the lawn as it takes to actually mow the lawn.

You're History

I don’t consider myself terribly knowledgeable about history, but I do enjoy reading about it. And when I had cable, I often watched the History Channel. My only objection was that they had a few too many shows on about World War II.

Then we didn’t have cable for 3 years, up until a month ago. In the few weeks that we’ve had it again, I’ve noticed a few subtle differences in the kind of programming the History Channel offers, compared to what was on 3 years ago. Whereas in the past I might have seen a show about the birth of democracy in ancient Greece, now there is a show about a “mysterious predator” killing livestock (is it aliens?), or people searching for a 200-foot-long octopus.

What happened to you, venerable History Channel?

A Grave Discovery

I don’t remember if I mentioned this, but our house is very near to a cemetery (and my great-grandparents are actually buried there). So we sometimes walk there in the evening, because it’s peaceful and relatively free of traffic.

We were walking there last night, and marveling at the huge number of flowers on the graves, when we stumbled upon this little scene:

Do they pre-dig graves, and then use filler coffins that they can just dig up when it’s time for the real deal? Are they just intended to help dig holes the right size? If so, why are they made of concrete? Is something fishy going on here? Does anyone know the purpose of these things?

Arachno-Freudian


I have no real fear of spiders. That doesn't mean I'm interested in allowing them to crawl all over me, but I don't have the same visceral reaction to them that many other people do. When I find them in the house, I generally either leave them alone or catch them in a container and put them outside.
The strange thing to me, though, is that I quite often have spiders in my dreams. Not in a "running away from the killer spider" kind of way, but in an "I'm in a basement room covered with spiderwebs and it's creepy but not quite terrifying" kind of way. Does this mean I'm secretly afraid of them, or is that how my mind keeps potential fear under control?
Now, how many of you jumped when you pulled up this page and saw that picture?

Thomas Time

This afternoon, courtesy of Sam's grandparents, we went to the "Day out with Thomas" event in Heber. There were all kinds of Thomas-related activities, the highlight of which was a 30-minute ride in passenger cars pulled by en engine that looks just like Thomas. What cracked me up was that the ride consisted of riding backwards for 15 minutes, stopping, and then riding forward for 15 minutes. It looks like they have 10 rides a day for 5 days, with several hundred passengers at a time paying $16 apiece. That's not a bad little racket they have going.

To be fair, the ticket price included a bunch of other things, including pictures with Sir Topham Hatt, some kind of petting zoo, and even temporary tattoos for some reason. And then, of course, there's a big store set up in the middle of the place where you can pay $20 for a little toy train.

Anyway, Sam had a good time, and it was nice to go do something fun together.

Let's Go to Montana in Our Montana

Last night when I came home I noticed a motor home parked in front of our neighbor's house. It reminded me of a fun game Katie and I play when we're on long trips. We like to see what ridiculous names these vehicles have. The one at our neighbors' was called Sea Breeze. Other examples include things such as Four Winds, Trail Boss, Cheyenne, Monaco Knight, and Jamboree.

Lame Duck

I went to a sports medicine doctor yesterday, fearing I had a stress fracture in my leg that would seriously jeopardize my marathon hopes this year. It turns out I don’t, but he gave me some exercises to strengthen my calf muscles to help prevent the possibility. So I did a ton of toe raises yesterday and then went running in the evening.

But I couldn’t help trying out a new running style I got recently from a book, which conserves energy but uses the lower leg muscles more. And, to make a long, boring story slightly shorter, I can barely walk this morning. I plan to walk around quacking, in the hope that people will simply mistake me for an unusually gangly duck.

People You Don't Want to Argue With

...because the consequences could be unpleasant.

Your dentist

Your barber

Your waiter

Your mechanic

The guy preparing your taxes

Your defense attorney

Anyone holding a loaded gun

Who else?

I Just Did the Dumbest Thing Ever

I thought I had posted about this before, but either the search function failed me or I am nuts. Of course, both could be true. Anyway, I am amused at how people will not only do something embarrassing, but they'll then further embarrass themselves by telling other people about it. I used to think women did this more than men, but I'm now rethinking that opinion.

Now, prepare to feel a whole lot better about yourself.

It was late Friday night, and I was exhausted. We were going to bed and had turned the lights out. It was pretty warm, so the ceiling fan was on to give us a little breeze. I had taken my glasses off, too, so I really couldn't see anything. (If you can't tell, I'm trying to make as many excuses as possible here.) But the little chains hanging from the fan were banging against the light. I decided to examine the situation to see if they could be tied up, or if I would need some tape. So I stood up on the bed.

Fortunately, the fan blade just missed my eye and instead hit the bridge of my nose. The scabs aren't too noticeable, at least if I wear a hat or walk around as though I'm bowing my head in continuous prayer.

[All right, here's a picture. Remember that at this point it's been healing for almost two days.]


Sym-pathetic

I've posted about sympathy cards before, and Nathan and I were talking the other day about some more creative things you could write in them. Here is part of our conversation:

me
: Maybe I’ll start writing “happy birthday” in sympathy cards...

nathan
: “Bummer, dude.”

nathan
: “It could have been you.”

me
: “Next time it will probably be you.”“Don’t grieve for the lost—your own clock is winding down, too.”


nathan
: “I give you permission to cry on someone’s shoulder, just not mine”

me
: “If you ever wanted to commit a crime, do it now while you’re emotionally distressed. The jury will be more lenient.”

nathan
: “I am sure you will see your loved one again, because the zombie apocalypse is just around the corner.”

me
: “Free!”“I’m so terribly sorry... but the inheritance will probably ease the pain a bit.”


nathan
: “I’ll bet your uncle left you something nice like a collection of paisley ties or some sturdy TV dinner trays. If you’re lucky, you might even get his 1978 Lincoln Continental with that sweet Corinthian leather trim!”

me
: “Sure, it’s bad for you. But think of the morticians who need work in these trying economic times!”“He’ll make a great new soylent product.”“Hmm, wasn’t he about the same size as you? You could get yourself a new suit if you play your cards right.”




nathan
: “You could make a killing on the black market. But you’ll have to act fast!”

Instant Karma

The other night Sam had a spray bottle and was spraying water on the floor. We told him multiple times to stop it, because it was making the floor slippery. He refused, tried to run away, and promptly slipped and fell on the floor.

I look forward to relating this story to future girlfriends.

Tweet

Most people have probably heard of a miner’s canary. It was a bird that died to warn miners of poisonous gas. I like to think there are common examples of this principle in our lives today.

At my college job as a cashier, I paid close attention to that one kid who was a total slacker. I figured that he would be the first one to get fired, so as long as I was a better employee than he was, I figured I was safe.

Driving is the same way. We all had that one friend in high school who thought he was in a police chase every time he got behind the wheel. As long as he hadn’t died, I figured my own driving was probably okay.

And then there’s the guy we all know who eats two big macs for lunch every day. When he dies and is buried in his piano crate, I’ll give up the fast food.

What other miner’s canaries are there?

Weekend Amnesia

Have you ever come in to work on Monday morning and been unable to recall what you were working on the previous Friday?

Finish Line

Well, I survived the Race for the Cure. It was one of the stranger experiences of my life. I worked my way as close to the starting line as I could, but it was still a good 5 minutes before I could even begin to run at all, because of the mass of people (I believe "horde" is the proper word). It was pretty fun, despite the horrid shirt I "got" to wear, and I found out that I do run faster in a crowd, because there's always someone else to catch.
According to the newspaper, there were about 18,000 people there. And some of the team names were downright naughty.
Angie, you're a gem for donating (and Lizzy, for trying). As for the rest of you who criticized me in that previous post...

Groaner

For some reason, this week I have been making the dumbest jokes imaginable, and I recently remembered one I have always been waiting to make but have not yet had the opportunity. I need to find some people arguing about Israel and Palestine, so I can say this:

“Now, now. Let’s not argue Semitics.” (You know, like "Let's not argue semantics." Eh, never mind.)

I Spy Something... Mildly Disturbing

On my way to work this morning I was stopped at a red light and noticed something about the car in front of me. There was a man driving and a woman in the passenger seat, and she was reaching over to feed him spoonfuls (spoonsful?) of something.

I understand that it's difficult to eat while you're driving. That's why you a) get your lazy keester out of bed early enough to get some breakfast (it takes only 3 seconds to microwave a pop-tart, according to Brian Regan), b) grab some food that you can actually eat in the car without creating a potential accident (again, a pop-tart would work), or c) wait until you get to work or wherever to get a bite to eat. At the very least, since they were stopped at a light, he should have taken the bowl or container and fed himself while they were stopped. I doubt his arms don't work, since he's, y'know, driving a car.

Today's Impulse Decision

On Saturday I watched an episode of Nova called Marathon Challenge. They took a bunch of volunteers of various athletic ability (mostly they were pretty sedentary) and trained them over the course of 40 weeks to run a marathon.

Running a marathon has been a long-term goal for me since I began running last year (no, not continuously). I didn't know how fast someone could work up to 26.2 miles from nothing. But if a bunch of technically obese people could do it in 40 weeks, I thought I might as well give it a shot this fall. So this morning I registered for the St. George Marathon on October 3.

I'll have to wait until next Monday to find out if I am randomly selected to be able to actually do it. Apparently, so many people want to register that they actually have to raffle off places.

If I am selected, I'll have 21 weeks to increase from my current longest run of 8 miles to the full distance. I think I can do it, if I don't have too many injuries between now and then. Wish me luck, I command you!

Me Me Me!

I’ve seen the “25 things about yourself” blog post on quite a number of friends’ blogs, but I had resisted posting my own because I thought it was unoriginal. But I guess nothing else about my blog is that original anyway, so here we go.

Oh, and just for fun five of these things are going to be a total lie. See if you can guess which ones.

1. I like to drink milk when I eat pickles.

2. I have no nail on my right pinky toe.

3. I know from personal experience that fried chicken intestine tastes like bacon.

4. I always carry a couple tissues in my pocket.

5. My favorite Bugs Bunny character growing up was Marvin the Martian.

6. I am a cat person (not that I would put them on nanny-cam or anything).

7. When I was about 5, I stole a pack of gum from the supermarket. I didn’t get caught.

8. I once flew a kite from inside a moving car.

9. My favorite drinks are milk, grape juice, and ginger ale.

10. I once dug up a coprolite.

11. I received two black eyes in a fight with a bully in junior high.

12. I think golf is the dumbest sport/hobby ever (except on Wii Sports, which is awesome).

13. I can do this weird rippling wave thing with my tongue.

14. I had to drive myself to the emergency room once.

15. I like cantaloupe, but not honeydew.

16. I can recite pi to 75 places.

17. I don't play basketball (or any other team sport).

18. I take long showers, heedless of the fact that I'm apparently destroying the environment by doing so.

19. I never beat Super Mario Brothers (not having a Nintendo growing up didn't help, of course).

20. I really don't like traveling very much.

21. When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be a surgeon.

22. I do worry about losing my hair. When I lose enough, I plan to shave my head.

23. I'm never late.

24. When I was a kid, I injured myself so much (mostly by hitting my head, apparently) that my parents had to take me to different emergency rooms so nobody would think I was being beaten.

25. Despite the many self-inflicted injuries, I've never broken a bone.