Tuesday, January 31, 2006

On Sunday, we helped some friends move into their new condo. Since they had a one-bedroom apartment, we didn't think it would take too long--little did we know that with Tetris-master skills, they had packed enough stuff into that small apartment to adequately furnish and FILL the palace at Versailles! Plus, the apartment was on the second floor, so the move meant carrying everything down a flight of stairs, then running back up them to get more stuff--and boy was there more stuff! Now I consider myself in pretty good shape--I try to work out everyday during lunch--but I'm still sore from the move! Either the move was particularly strenuous or I'm not working out as hard as I think I am. By the way, does getting your heart rate up by being overheated in the jacuzzi count as exercise? I'm just wondering--a... friend... asked me about that. Anyway, we accomplished the move--and all I know is that I'm glad it was only our task to get the stuff through the front door of their new condo! I don't know how long it's going to take to put away all their stuff since they don't have the space of Buckingham Palace.

Monday, January 30, 2006

This weekend we finally got to a lacrosse game and it turned out to be a lot of hyper-violent fun. I brought the camera, and I'm glad I did, because it makes it ever so much easier to tell you about our evening.

Portland was one of the expansion cities for the Indoor Lacrosse League. Our team is the Lumberjax--I know, stupid name, plus Portland doesn't even DO forestry products anymore, we cut down all our trees ages ago! The arena is a ice hockey arena with astroturf instead of ice and bare legs instead of protective leg coverings. That fact will be more significant when I get to the fighting picture.

Here's a completely unflattering picture of me (how in the world do you hold your head when you're also holding your arm out to take your own picture--it's impossible I tell you! Although at least I held my head a little lower than I usually do--with most of my self-portraits, doctors could diagnose any sinus problems I have since the picture looks right up my nose!) At least Margaret and Stacey look ok in the shot!

This is the mascot for the Lumberjax. His name is "Jax" and the program said his favorite tv show is "Lost," his favorite movie is "Napolean Dynomite," his favorite color is plaid, and his favorite dry cleaner to get out the stubborn stains in his face is Jeffe's Out-Damn-Spot Cleaners downtown. While he was in front of our section, we learned that he was a one-trick pony--every kid who came up to get their picture taken was treated with the same exact pose--a pistol finger aimed at the camera. Brother--I'd expect more chopping and killing spotted owls than POINTING from a self-respecting OREGON lumberjack!

The charm of this game--at least to my brother, would be that there are ABSOLUTELY NO RULES AGAINST VIOLENCE. Hitting with sticks, elbows, fists, or helmets is completely legal. A player that joins a fight in-progress gets in trouble, though, so if someone gets hyped up from a teammember who is in a fight, he'd be better served to just start a new fight. We didn't see any good fights at this game--a fact that was pointed out by someone we overheard talking to a friend on the phone while we were on the train home. Needless to say, he was VERY disappointed.

Here's a picture of Margaret at the half-time show of a local highschool girls lacrosse team. Margaret normally has a lot more color, but she went absolutely pale when she found out that a Diet Coke cost $4.75--yes FOUR DOLLARS AND SEVENTY-FIVE FRICKIN' CENTS! For that much, she would have bought a half case and smuggled it in under her Lady Lumberjack Oversize Tree-killin' cap©!

A couple of rows below us, I spotted this woman in the crowd and couldn't help but take a picture. I wonder if her husband asked her "Honey, wanna go to lacrosse? Ward's meetin' us there." And thought she heard "crossword" and thought her prayers at her husband finally taking an interest in more intellectual pursuits had finally been answered. Alas, she was stuck at some game trying to get a crossword done while her drunk husband was making a fool of himself. I'm sure she cried herself to sleep THAT night!

Here's a picture of someone getting a goal. Unfortunately Portland didn't win--Calgary beat us. Man, those Canadians! First they have universal health care, and now this? Well, at least we can own semi-automatic weapons and have health care providers that rake in MILLIONS--that TOTALLY makes up for it!

All in all, it was a fun evening. And it was much more enjoyable to watch lacrosse than basketball--I really don't like basketball, anyway, and that coupled with the fact that I'm watching guys who get paid millions of dollars to be so self-absorbed and spoiled makes me question our priorities. With the lacrosse players, they seemed a lot more down to earth--A LOT--one of them had "Frito Lays sales representative" listed as his day job! You don't get much more down to earth than selling Cheetos!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Yesterday at lunch (at Taco Bell, of course), Brent and I were standing in a LONG line waiting to place our orders. When we finally realized that the line wasn't moving, we started looking around to see what the delay was from--unfortunately it was all too easy to spot. There was a woman talking on her cell phone while she was ordering--and not just trying to do two things at one time--the person on the other end was giving the woman her food order! The one would read the menu items to the person on the phone, and then she'd wait for a response. The cashier was totally frustrated, because of the huge delay. At one point, the woman yelled into the phone--"they don't HAVE Mexi-fries any more!" ...then a response on the other end... then, "Well put her on!" After she finally got through with the phone order, she proceeded to make three other separate transactions. Even though we were about 6 or 7 people from the end when we got in the restaurant, she was still ordering when I reached the other cashier! Then of course when her food came out, there was some problem with it that she could complain about. I swear lady--it's $3 worth of food and you just sacrificed 2 years of your life worth of stress over it!

I remember one time, Margaret and I were eating at Taco Bell in the evening and someone came in with a taco they had bought at lunch that wasn't made right--it had sour cream or something on it--and he wanted them to fix it. We couldn't believe someone would drive around with a cold taco for half a day and then bother to come in an complain about it--it was 79 frickin' cents! I wonder if these kinds of dramas happen in fancy restaurants?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Well, once again the goddess Fortuna failed to bestow us with the winning lottery numbers--and the jackpot was up to $115 million! Last night, I told Margaret that if we won that, she'd just turn into a complete raunch and I'd turn into a complete bastard. She said "I'd never let you become a bastard, and if you did I'll beat you with a yardstick--a diamond-encrusted yardstick!" So as you can see, we had big plans for that money and now they're dashed.

Speaking of diamond encrusting, one year for Christmas, someone gave my brother and me a stud and rhinestone machine. We had so much fun with that--we put studs on every conceivable article of clothing (well, not EVERY conceivable--studded underwear would probably chafe). The coup de grâce, however, were the bathrobes that our aunt had made us--we put so many studs along the seams and pockets of them that they would hang open from the weight of all that metal. We thought we were so cool (it WAS the early 80's, and it surely WASN'T cool, but how were two boys from rural Idaho supposed to know that we should be wearing alligator-embroidered pastel polo shirts and not Hell's Angels-inspired bathwear?)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

For Christmas, a friend of ours gave us the most random present that at first we thought was an ordering mistake. From the friend who gave us a high-class serving tray with spaces for four photos that we just love gave us Moon Shoes! If you've never heard of them, they're these things you strap to your feet that have all these rubber bands that put a bounce in your step. We finally put them together last night. When we first opened the box, we saw a whole bunch of rubber bands--like 100! And there are only six slots for the bands. We put the bands on and they didn't do much, so Margaret actually read the instructions and found out that we needed to put multiple bands on for different weights. Evidently a 350 lb. person would require all 100 bands, but for our purposes, we only needed three per peg. When we finally got the things put together (with plenty of snapped and bruised fingers to show for it) they were hilariously fun. Brent and Janis were over, and we all had a crack at them. We took them outside and Margaret pointed out that the instructions specifically state that they are not to be used in roadways due to the danger of being hit by a car. I guess that means they're SO fun that you won't even notice large vehicles hurtling toward you. Leave it to Brent to strap on the Moon Shoes and HEAD STRAIGHT FOR THE ROAD! Always one to break the rules, that Brent. Fortunately we live on a quiet street, so the only thing that was injured was our reputation with the neighbors. I'm sure they all thought we were crazy, laughing and screaming out on the street in the middle of the night bouncing in our Moon Shoes. Actually, Margaret really liked them because they didn't hurt her knee, which has given her problems ever since that horrific polo accident in college. Maybe she'll start using them to go jogging--as long as she does it under the cover of darkness, because if anyone saw her jogging around in them, I'm sure they'd report her. Well, maybe not--in our neighborhood, people can run around naked without people even raising an eyebrow (however if some unwitting suburbanite makes the mistake of parking a Hummer there, they shouldn't be surprised to come back and find that it's been keyed or had paint dumped on it--we're fine with nudity, not fine with needless environmental destruction and phallic compensation.) Anyway, thanks for the random Christma-hannu-kwanzaa gift, Leslie!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Last night, Margaret and I were painfully reminded of the old adage: "Just because A-list stars are in a movie doesn't mean the movie is A-list." I think that adage was coined after Shakespeare appeared in that bomb of a play "Get Thee to a Nunnery," universally panned as the worst play in the Elizabethan era--Queen Elizabeth even had the producer beheaded! Anyway, we rented a movie with Sean Penn, Claire Danes, and Joachin Phoenix called "It's All About Love." It was so disjointed and impossible to follow that it was almost comical. I don't know what the actors were thinking! Plus it wasted two hours of our lives that we'll never get back! How do you get a refund for THAT?

Speaking of which, I remember one time a friend invited us to see a Winona Ryder movie called "Lost Souls." It was so bad that the people who hadn't walked out by the end of the movie actually booed over the credits! Now THAT'S bad--when someone is willing to expend energy booing moving names at the end of a movie with no chance of the people involved hearing it whatsoever. I guess it is more catharsis for the viewer. Afterward, our friend EB kept showering us with apologies for how awful the movie was and that she was so sorry for suggesting it. In fact she was so mortified that soon after she and her family moved to Africa to escape the shame! (Well, at least I THINK that was the reason--that or her husband got a job with Mercy Corps there--it was one of the two.)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Wow! This morning, while casually enjoying my morning bagel at Noah's, who should I see eating there but SUPERMAN! A little boy, who couldn't have been more than 6, was having a bagel and juice with his red cape on. When I got closer, I noticed that he was wearing blue lycra running pants and over those, had on a pair of tighty-whitey underwear. It cracked me up that neither he nor his father acted as if anything were out of the ordinary. Maybe that's what I need to get myself going in the morning--although I think I'd dress up as Tarzan, because it would be a lot easier to put that costume together. (Although I'll wait until summer--not only is it too cold, but I'm so pale being that it's the middle of winter that people would think I was dressed up as Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Speaking of the King of the Apes, I remember one summer my brother and I were totally into pretending we were Tarzan. We ran around all summer in nothing more than running shorts. We would even wear them under our church clothes and one the way home unbutton our shirts and pants so the second we hopped out of the car we could fling our vestments of civilization to the ground and continue playing like we were Tarzan. One time, my brother and I were supposed to be helping doing some yardwork and we concocted a plan to impress our parents. Jarrod would hide, waiting for my signal, while I went to help mom and dad. When dad asked me where Jarrod was, since he was supposed to be helping, I said I didn't know, but would get him--at which point I cupped my hands to my mouth and gave a Tarzan yell. Hearing the signal, Jarrod ran out from behind some bushes. We thought that was pretty impressive, but dad just told us to stop horsing around and get to work. I wouldn't be surprised if he had to go "get something" afterward and have a good laugh, because now that I look back on the incident as an adult, I can't help but think how I wouldn't have been able to stop laughing.

Friday, January 20, 2006

I just found out which hit of 2005 I am:

Your 2005 Song Is

Beverly Hills by Weezer

"My automobile is a piece of crap
My fashion sense is a little whack
And my friends are just as screwy as me"

You breezed through 2005 in your own funky style!
This afternoon, Margaret and I are meeting with a financial planner. In light of current events, we're anxious to get our things in order. I just hope he doesn't recommend some off-the-wall investment like a limited partnership or shares of milk produced by an organic cow. What he'll probably say is that our nest egg is best served stuffed in a piggy bank. I have no idea how this works, so I don't know at all what to expect.

Speaking of not knowing what to expect, I remember one time, soon after we'd gotten married, that we got this official-looking envelope in the mail saying that we'd won some prize and to show up to a certain place at a certain time. Margaret and I looked over the potential prizes and couldn't wait to go! (Hey, we were young and inexperienced!) When we got there, it felt like the inside of a 70's homemade porn basement and there were about 15 other couples there--anxiously waiting to find out what their prize was. Finally someone came out and started a presentation on a travel club talking up how much it saves and how often he gets to travel, etc, etc. Margaret and I just rolled our eyes and realized one thing: "we're TRAPPED!" We had to sit through this inane presentation that lasted what felt like six hours, but was more likely one, and after it was over, a flock of sleazy salespeople swooped down on the unsuspecting couples to give them the hard sell one-on-one. Everytime our salesman tried to get us to commit, we would tell him that we have a hard and fast rule that we wouldn't make any big decisions regarding money without spending a couple of days thinking about it. This frustrated him to no end. He called in his "manager," who tried the same technique--even trying to split us up and convince us seperately! They tried to play up the "do you let your spouse make your decisions for you" schtick, and I'm sure they used the same line with Margaret. (At that point, though, I just thought that even if I wanted to say yes, Margaret would KILL me.) During the hard sell phase, several couples had already decided to commit--and everyone in the room was painfully aware of it. Each time a couple signed up for The Program, their salesperson would ring a bell to get everyone's attention, then announce to the room that Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so had just joined, crack open a bottle of champagne and give one of those plastic champagne glasses to each of them for a toast, then escort the new cult members program members into another room. Once this started, people started dropping like flies--nothing like a herd mentality to empty a room. Finally our salesman was about to give up--he offered to take our credit card then, but not process it until the next day. We told him that we'd think about it overnight and if it was something that we wanted, we'd call back tomorrow. He was not happy, but couldn't really do anything else. He escorted us through a back hallway, where we checked our number on the prize sheet and shock of shocks, had won the "other prize" that's always listed at the end of a prize list. In this case, it was a fanny pack. A FRICKIN' FANNY PACK was all we got. Well, we also got hours of torture mixed with amusement at watching those zombie-like couples carry their plastic glasses of champagne into the "other room" like they were European aristocracy. And I'm sure that when they actually used their travel benefits, the hotels and resorts would treat them more like Eurotrash--so I guess it all works out. As for us, we've NEVER regretted not caving in--we just regret actually falling for the scam. Although we do still use that fanny pack, so it wasn't ALL for naught.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Okay, you all remember the Indian money that I found out totalled a whopping TWENTY-NINE CENTS? Well, the plot thickens! I just got my packet of forms to complete so the Bureau of Indian Affairs can send me a check. This is wrong on so many levels, and I'll walk you through each and every one, since I know you all love to hear about government efficiency and bureaucratic heroism. First, the packet was so thick that it took extra postage--60 cents to be exact. Sixty cents is more than TWICE AS MUCH as the total amount of money they're looking to send me! When I opened it up, there was a letter from the Office of Trust Funds Management:

(I'll leave out the gratuitous niceties that the officer included and jump to the good stuff)

I have enclosed the necessary documents for your signature, highlighting them where your signature is necessary in yellow and where a witness' signature is necessary in pink.

Can you believe that? A stack of forms AND signed in front of witnesses!!! I can see it if it was for the fabled Nez Perce gold fortune, but a little more than a QUARTER?

Would you please enclose a copy of your photo identification, such as a driver's license and a copy of your social security card, if available? Also, if you have easy access to your birth certificate, a copy of it would also be appreciated.

Driver's license? Social Security card! A frickin' BIRTH CERTIFICATE! It's easier to get PLUTONIUM than my 29 cents! Do they even THINK about how ridiculous this is?

After reading the letter, I looked over the forms that they included. One of them is a W-9 (the IRS form so the BIA can report my 29 cents to the IRS to make sure that I include it as income on my taxes! Wouldn't want to screw the government out of its fair share!) The next form asks if I would like the 29 cents issued by check or direct deposit. Yes, taking the time to set up the transfer is TOTALLY worth it--in terms of personnel time, it only costs, what? Twelve dollars? Then, at the bottom, to add insult to injury, on the line for a signature, they include a space for a thumbprint in case you can't read or write! And while they're at it, they might as well give us some fire water and smallpox infested blankets and send us back to our tipi! Also, both the signature and the thumbprint must be witnessed and the witness has to complete his OWN form!

Lastly, the envelope they included in the packet was prestamped, adding an additional 37 cents to the cost of getting me my 29 cents!

I am blown away by the waste both of my time and government money. If they had told me that since my account was under a dollar, it had been used to help feed hungry children on the Navajo reservation, I would have been fine with that. Heck, if they said since it was under TEN dollars, I still would have been fine with that. But to spend 100 times the value of the account in order to close it is just plain stupid. There's no way I'm going to take the time to fill out all these forms and get them witnessed--and by doing so, I've cost the government even MORE money--no wonder we can't afford national health care! (I sincerely apologize to any of my readers who are in the ranks of the working poor.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Yesterday I found out that my dad is going to have his heart replaced with an artificial one! I don't know anyone who has known anyone who has had one, and I'm more than a little freaked out. Evidently this is the usual procedure nowadays when someone needs a heart transplant that an artificial one is installed until a donor heart is obtained. I'm old enough to remember the first artificial heart recipient and how newsworthy that was--and now dad's doctors sound like it's nothing out of the ordinary. I'm incredibly grateful for the technology--it's amazing to imagine that my dad will be running on a battery-operated titanium pump, but I have no idea how that works. How to you change batteries? Will it make weird noises? Will he have a button marked "adrenalin mode" to give him super strength and stamina? Whether we like it or not, we're going to be finding out, but knowing my dad, he'll make it work by sheer force of will--the salmon run this year is supposed to be pretty good and there's no way he'd miss that! He'd hook his heart up to the car battery if it meant he could get another fish. Wish him well, internets!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Wow, my counter just reached FOUR digits! I've had as many hits in three months as Google gets in a few seconds--score!
Last night, Margaret and I drove home from Idaho after a weekend visit with my family there. We ended up leaving town a little later than we'd planned and so by the time we reached Walla Walla, Washington, it was almost dark. I always hate the poorly marked signage in Walla Walla because I can never get on the right highway. Well yesterday was the worst so far! Coming in to town, I drove past what I thought was our exit, so I got off on the next exit and drove on city streets back toward what I thought was the other highway. We drove, and drove, and DROVE! Eventually we ended up on an old country road that went through farm fields. Occassionally we would see a farmhouse here and there, but not much in terms of civilization. I swear, a couple of times I could here the creepy banjo tunes from "Deliverance." Margaret was getting more and more annoyed that I hadn't stopped to ask directions, and I was getting more and more annoyed that I was being such a cliché. Fortunately we ran into a larger road right before the road we were on started ascending into the Blue Mountains, or we'd be one of those foolish couples who get stuck in the forest and end up resorting to cannibalism. We eventually made our way back to Walla Walla, where Margaret made me stop and SHE asked for directions. Needless to say I was WAY off--the exit I thought I had missed was several miles further down the road! I told Margaret that the whole ordeal should finally convince her that we need to buy a GPS system for the car. (She didn't buy it.)

Friday, January 13, 2006

I swear, sometimes homeownership is so not worth it. Last night I went to unload the dishwasher and noticed that there was still water in the bottom of it. When I took a look at the dishes, they were all still covered with specks of who-knows-what. THAT made me a queasy, since I had just eaten dinner with a plate, spoon, and glass from the dishwasher. That funny taste in the food was evidently soap and not Margaret trying to poison me now that my life insurance policy is active. Anyway, being a modern urban dweller more adept at fixing crème brûlée than anything MECHANIZED, the limits of my troubleshooting was 1) turn the dial to rinse in the hopes that time miraculously fixed the problem--nothing; and 2) take off the bottom cover of the dishwasher and look under it--I did that and came to the conclusion that I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the underside of a dishwasher and the inner workings of a Dodge Magnum--you know, the kind with a Hemi. (Speaking of which, what in the world IS a hemi? Is it what gave Knight Rider turbo boost or the ability to talk? I'm so confused!) Anyway, since I had no idea what I was looking at let alone any inkling of how to fix it, I just screwed the plate back on and tried the rinse cycle again. And imagine this--unscrewing and then reattaching the base plate didn't fix the problem! Now we have to make the decision to fix a low-end dishwasher or just replace it with something else. My dread is the repair for the $200 dishwasher will be $200. Decisions, decisions. Before we bought our own house, we used our money to go play at the coast, get kelp wraps at a day spa, or buy ivory backscratchers. Now we have to think about broken appliances, roof replacements, and property taxes. Oy! What I wouldn't give for a kelp wrap and past life massage.

This morning, to add insult to injury, I had to SIPHON the water out of the dishwasher, since we're going out of town for the weekend and coming back to the rancid aroma of spoiling dishwater wouldn't be our preferred method of being wished "welcome home." I'll just end with saying I have yet to learn how to siphon without getting a mouthful of whatever I'm trying to suck out. I'm just glad it wasn't full of Mountain Dew--I HATE that stuff.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Last night I had the strangest dream about being in our basement when all of a sudden, a black kitten with mange jumped out of the door to the furnace room and started running around. Neither Margaret nor I wanted to touch it, but it still needed to be put outside, so I kind of pushed it with my foot and booted it out the door. When I woke up, I started wondering what that was supposed to mean. I concluded that it meant one of three things: 1) the kitten symbolized children and Margaret and I both knew we had to deal with it but were loathe to touch the situation, 2) there's a hole in our basement wall that feral cats can get through, or 3) the kitten's mange symbolized my hair loss and how I don't want to confront that. It's probably the latter, since I just have to suck it up and boot the cat out of the house--just like with my youthful hair gets booted down the drain. Oh well--altering your genetics is still a few years away and my HMO probably won't cover it when it does become available--they're so cheap that they even charged me a $50 co-pay when they treated my rickets with leeches!

Actually, I was finally snapped out of my denial that I had inherited my grandfather's scalp just a few years ago. Despite years of my brother taunting me, I never thought it was THAT bad. Well, one day at work, someone I was meeting with had brought in her young daughter. A few days later the woman called to follow up on our meeting and she told me that her daughter had talked about "how funny that guy was." When she pressed her daughter about which guy she was talking about, the little girl replied, "you know--that half-haired guy!" I had to laugh, but it was then that I realized that I would never have George Clooney's hair unless it was glued to my head.

Speaking of halves, one time my niece was introducing Margaret and me to her friend and she said, "This is my uncle Jeremy. He's half Indian and half human." When I told both stories to my grandmother, she said, and don't forget: you're also a half-wit. Thanks B!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Oy, this blog keeps coming back to bite me in the ass. I was at a party a few nights ago and someone said, "I read your brother's comment online and he talked about you knocking yourself out with a garden hose. What's THAT story?" Arg--something I thought was comfortably buried in my nerdish past that I've taken years to erase being thrown back in my face--and at a social setting nonetheless. Now that you've heard about the story, I may as well fill you in on the sordid details.

One day, my mom had charged me with watering the lawn. I was moving the sprinkler from one location to another and was pulling the hose when it got caught up on something. Being the lazy teenager that I was, I decided to try to whip the hose off the hang-up rather than walking back and freeing it. Unfortunately I grabbed the hose not at the end but about 10 inches from the end. Suddenly, as I stood there whipping it up and down and back and forth, something hit me so hard on the head that I couldn't hear out of my right ear, my vision went black for an instant, and I could barely stand up straight. I was standing near the road in front of our house and thought that someone must have thrown a rock at me as they drove past. I stumbled back to the house, all the while telling myself my name, address, phone number, and preferred brand of bacon bits to confirm that I didn't have amnesia. I'd seen enough movies and soap operas to know that even the slightest blow to the head is enough to make someone forget that he's a rich baron that drives racecars and is a double agent between the US and Canada. Unfortunately I could well remember that I wasn't wealthy royalty but a pimply teenager into computers and science--at least the injury could have made me think I was a British agent for a few minutes. When I went in the house and told my mom what had happened. She was (understandably) freaked out and rushed me to the clinic in town. As we were sitting in the examination room, I had some time to think about what had happened and my original thought that someone had thrown a rock at me just didn't seem to add up. One, a rock thrown that distance would have left more than a series of threaded lines on my forehead, and two, I wasn't even facing the road. It was then that I realized that I had hit myself with the wicked strike of a whipped garden hose. I sheepishly told my mom what I had just realized and she said that we'd stick to the thrown rock story when we told the doctor what had happened. And that's exactly what we did. The story was safely lost to history until my brother dragged it back to the open--thanks Jarrod! Now the internets know why I have a slight bump on my forehead and why I'm into whips and chains. Now if nothing exciting happens next week I might tell you about hanging upside-down from the swingset at school with my pants around my ankles.
I'm anxiously awaiting the newest annoucements from Apple today. What kinds of wondrous products will The Steve be unveiling? An iPod that filters out beggar's requests while you're walking down the street? Extending the "Undo" functionality into other aspects of your life?--THAT would be worth any cost! Imagine spilling milk: no worries, just hit Apple-Z and undo it. How about your life's savings invested in Enron: Apple-Z and you're not destitute anymore. The possibilities are endless!

It's amazing how far computers have come, though. I remember getting my first Mac back in high school. It had one megabyte of RAM and I saved up and bought an external harddrive that held 40 megabytes! I couldn't imagine filling it up, either. How times have changed--now my cell phone has more capacity than the old harddrive and everything is in COLOR! Ugg--how old am I going to sound to my kids when I talk about using black and white computers and at a time before the internet had even been thought up! They'll think that an old Apple II was the kind of computer that the Founding Fathers© used to write the Constitution. (And a little-known historical fact was that the Bible was written on REALLY old technology--an IBM Selectric TYPEWRITER. And if you don't know what a typewriter is, it's like a computer that doesn't have a screen, can't correct errors, doesn't spell check, can't print out multiple copies of a document, and takes almost three weeks just to load Age of Empires. Hey, that's why they called it the Dark Ages, not because Christian fundamentalists stifled scientific progress and learning.)

Monday, January 09, 2006

This weekend, Margaret and I were shopping for a baby present for my sister. We wanted to get something that she wouldn't be able to get in rural Idaho--something like a flush toilet or a touch-tone telephone. We decided instead to get some clothes (ok--you CAN get those in Idaho--but they're mainly the "swaddling" variety). There's a trendy shopping district here in town that is fun to look around in, but the trendy factor jacks up prices 112%. We went to a little children's clothing store where almost all the clothes are French. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a knit onesie for $120! Why would someone pay that much for something that the baby will grow out of in like 20 seconds, isn't formal enough for a christening or even Olive Garden, and most likely will poop all over? I guess it's for all the parents out there who think that, "there's nothing too good for our little Alexandra." What they don't forsee, though, is their little angel turning into a she-devil when they tell her they can't afford to send her to even a community college because they spent all their money on her baby clothes so their friends would feel inadequate.

I remember when I was in high school and HAD to have all my clothes brand-name. I bought a pair of Ralph Lauren Polo socks for something like $20 and my little sister (who was only 8 or 9 at the time) said, "WHAT! For $20, I'd just sew the logo on MYSELF!" Geesh--if I'd have listened to her words of wisdom then, I'd have saved a fortune over the course of the rest of my school years.

Friday, January 06, 2006

This morning was a sad day for Margaret--Noah's ran out of their pumpkin dough and today was the last few remaining bagels. When we went to the register to pay, the person behind the counter said that there was a bag there waiting for us. The guy handed it to Margaret telling her it was for their best pumpkin bagel customer. When Margaret opened it up, it was the last six pumpkin bagels! Now she'll be able to get her fix for a few more days before having to go cold turkey until October. After we were done eating, the baker asked if we'd tried the cheddar bagels, which are the pumpkin replacement. I said I hadn't, so they gave me one of those to try. I swear, it's a good thing that we're not on Atkins, because this morning would have killed us!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Someone just told me that now I should change my Indian name to Stands with a Fist... Full of Pennies.
I'm sure most people have heard of the fabled payments that the government showers onto Indians. Well, yesterday, my aunt found a website that listed all the Bureau of Indian Affairs' "whereabouts unknown" individuals and my brother's and my name was on the list! It is a list of all the people that the BIA has Individual Indian Monies accounts for, but don't know where to send the money. I was kind of excited to call and give them my current information--thinking that the family's lost millions were somehow restored and sitting in the US Treasury, waiting to be dispersed. I called and patiently went through the automated phone tree and finally got to talk to a live person. After giving her enough information to prove that I am who I said I was, she got my new information. I then asked her if she could tell me how much was in my account. She looked and said that the check that they would be sending to close the account was... wait for this... TWENTY-NINE FRICKIN' CENTS!!! What a phenomenal waste of my time and government spending--they'll spend three times that processing and mailing the check. I think I'll just keep the check and when I meet someone who thinks that the government just gives money to the tribes, I'll pull it out and show him just how much we get. Either that or I can use it to buy a pound of onions--those are always useful.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Ugh! Nothing like a two-week vacation to help you feel refreshed, invigorated, and completely SWAMPED when you come back to work! I was just getting used to forgetting what day of the week it was, when BAM! work rolls around and reminds me. I think the Europeans are on to something with their long holidays and decent work hours.

Speaking of European vacations--when I lived in Norway, I got transfered to the Great White North, several hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle (and I'm not talking about the restaurant). It was so depressing to be that far north in the springtime, because the sun only came up for about a half and hour each day. We'd wake up at dark, work for a while, head home when it started to get light out, eat lunch while the sun was up, and be back out working by sunset. Well, we only had to do that one day--I got into a horrible sledding accident and hurt my foot. Sledding, you ask? Yes--SLEDDING. They don't use bikes up there, since the roads are a perpetual ice skating rink that are hard to traipse on foot, let alone a wheeled anything. All the locals use something called a "spark," which means "kick" in Norwegian. It looks like a dogsled without the team of dogs to do all the work--unfortunately, THAT job fell to the rider, who stood on one runner while kicking with the other foot. Well, this was fine going on level areas, but the first hill we came to, we had no idea how to slow the thing down--I went first and got going so fast I couldn't control it, was about to enter a highway, so did the prudent thing and wrecked into the biggest snow drift I could see. I didn't come out unscathed--I ended up hurting my foot bad enough that I couldn't go out and do any missionary work for a month and finally ended up having to move to Oslo to have physical therapy. Now I wouldn't advocate having a serious accident in order to take a long vacation, but as injuries go--developing tendonitis in my foot turned out to be just what the doctor ordered to restore my sanity.

Monday, January 02, 2006

My grandmother gave me a gift card for Powell's Books here in Portland for Christmas and I've been itching to spend it since I opened it. For those of you who haven't heard of Powell's, it's nothing short of a temple to reading--I think the library at Alexandria was their Egypt branch. Their downtown store covers several blocks and is 6 or 7 stories tall. We have one in our neighborhood that isn't quite so large, although it extends the entire width of a block, which it accomplished by tearing out a house on the street behind the store and building on. Now that's some SERIOUS book lovin'! I love shopping there, just to have access to the sheer volume of books--but there is one serious drawback--the SHEER VOLUME OF BOOKS! I go in and get lost, browsing away until I've noticed that it's dark outside, I'm starving, and I have a light beard. This afternoon, I went down to buy a book that was reviewed in the newspaper, but when I got there, evidently everyone else who read the review had beaten me to all the copies. I decided to look around for something else, but not knowing what I was looking for, I started randomly browsing the shelves. BIG mistake!--the last time I did that I came home with the Aneid in the original Latin! This time was no different--I could feel myself getting overwhelmed to the point that I couldn't make a decision. I finally just picked a genre and looked at the recommendations in that section--I picked Sci-Fi, and the recommendation said, "if you don't buy this book, I'll put it in your hand to make sure you get it." That sounded compelling enough, and after several hours of thumbing through books, I was ready to leave. All's I know is that that review better have been legit and not some creative way to con me into buying the book.

I swear--people like to extol the virtues of massive selection, but I've gone to the video store too many times and been so overwhelmed by the choices that I've left without a movie. Curiously, this NEVER happens when I'm buying a candy bar--when I see the chocolate aisle, no matter how overwheming the number choices is, I can still muster some deep source of strength and conviction that helps me decide on a type. My stomach is much more decisive than my brain is, obviously.
How embarrassing! After always telling people here in Portland how easy it is to navigate around Salt Lake with its grid street system and mountains that literally jut into the city, I made myself look like a gawking Idaho farmboy--wait... don't say anything there--and kept refering to Salt Lake's east side when I was really talking about the WEST side! Maybe it's just from cultural bias--being from the American West, I always assume it's better than the East. Out here we've got our wide-open spaces, laid-back attitudes, and a small pocket of neo-Nazis in North Idaho that we don't talk about. Anyway, I've fixed the mistake--ahh, gotta love the internets for being able to revise history!