Monday, December 24, 2007

Anniversary Dream

I don't know if it was the Christmas holiday or the decade and a half anniversary of me returning home from Norway! on December 19, but last night I had a dream that I had to go back and serve some more mission!!! I flee over, but was told that I would be serving in the Danish mission, which I was okay with, but when met with the mission president, he told me that Greenland was a part of the Danis mission and he was sending me there! I woke up completely startled, worried that I might have to go to the even further north than Norway... and THAT'S saying something.

Can you imagine serving in Greenland? That ranks up there with South Provo for sucky places to serves mission. Although at least with global warming, Greenland would be warmer than Utah.

Friday, December 14, 2007

You only exist if you're looking at me

This morning I learned a painful yet important lesson. Trudging out to the bus stop on a cold, wintery morning, knowing that a bus was coming any second, I had hoped to minimize the time spent trying to keep warm. When I was within 5 feet of the stop, the bus zoomed by! Evidently my proximity to the bus stop wasn't enough to signal that I wanted on the frickin' bus. No, they expect you to be standing at the stop, looking the driver square in the eye, flailing your arms as much as possible, and flashing money or something else if you want the bus to stop. By the time the next bus lumbered up, it was all I could do to flail my numb limbs more than 6", but fortunately the money was frozen to my hand, so I didn't have to clutch it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Multi-tasking

Only three more days until Margaret and I make the trek back to Utah Zion© for the holidays. We're so ready to get away from work/being-reminded-that-we-need-to-remodel-our-bathrooms/dreary weather that we can taste it. Although with leaving so early necessitates us cramming activities into every day between now and our departure date, which has us multi-tasking like crazy. Although not as crazy as this contraption I saw on the Internets:



The Victorian-era rocking chair/butter churn/cradle oscillator. Intended as a means to harness "hitherto wasted female power," the levers-and-pulleys-intensive device was designed to divert its user from wasteful feminine pursuits like "novels, beaux, embroidery," and the making of "opera-boxes and bonnets."

My gosh! With all the energy Margaret pours into her opera-boxes, beaux, bonnets, and embroidery, she could be powering my Wii; "Rock faster! I'm almost to level ten!" Think of the money we'd save!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Stuck in the airport

I came home to Idaho over the weekend and planned on flying back first thing Monday morning and get back to Portland before work even noticed I was gone. It would have worked out, too, if there hadn't been a big snowstorm last night and delayed all the flights. And of course instead of being trapped in a big airport with shops and restaurants and indoor toilets, I'm stuck in the Lewiston, Idaho airport, where I can buy a "Darth Tater" t-shirt with a potato dressed as the villain on the front. Thank heavens they have a wi-fi signal... and not just in the outhouse, or I'd be going crazy right now.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Frog Prince

This was forwarded to me and I couldn't resist:

A old widow was very lonely, so she decided that she needed a pet to keep her company. Off to town she went to find a pet shop. Upon entering the pet store she began her search for the right companion. Nothing seemed to catch her interest except an extremely ugly and wart-covered frog. As she walked by the barrel he was in, he looked up and winked at her! The frog whispered to her, ‘I’m lonely too! Buy me and you won’t be sorry.’ The woman figured, what the heck, she hadn’t found anything else. So, she bought the frog and sat him next to her in her old pickup as she drove away.

Down the road the frog whispered to her again, ‘Kiss me! You won’t be sorry.’ So, the old lady looked behind her in the mirror and figured what the heck and kissed the frog. Immediately the frog turned into a tall, handsome, buff, young man. Then he kissed her back and do you know what the old lady TURNED INTO?

...wait for it...


...wait for it...


She turned into the first motel she could find!

Let's fly away!

Hey! Why are you staring at my crotch?



(Hmm, I wonder if these come in khaki?)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Buck's Brownies©

Last night, right as I was sitting down to watch the season finale of Heroes (which was great, by the way), I got an email from a former fellow Norwegian missionary/pseduo-fiancé (it's a long story that I'll regale you with at another time). Anyway, just like on the movie "National Treasure," she'd uncovered a holy grail everyone... even this item's creator... thought was lost to the sands of time. Yes, she had rediscovered the lost recipe of Buck's Brownies©! Self-declared "The ONLY Decent Brownies in the Universe." They were the most coveted and delicious of all the missionary brownies we had in Norway. The last time I was able to partake in their ambrosia-like perfection was in a little village in southern Norway near the end of the last century and with the disappearance of any known copies of the recipe, the next time I thought I'd get to taste them was at the welcome reception they host in the Celestial Kingdom.

You may think that I'm exaggerating about these brownies, but they truly were legendary. Everyone talked about them in hushed whispers and passed the recipe, carefully crafted by none other than "The Buck" himself, (actually, his name was Dan Buck, but he was never called Dan or even "Elder Buck" which would have been what we should have called him... he was just "Buck.") only to our closest friends.

In one of my areas, I sustained a sledding injury (another story for a later time) and was housebound for several weeks. Well, my companion and I lived on muesli and these brownies. Seriously, we made a batch a day for several weeks. In fact we were constantly running low on eggs (and money, as eggs are very expensive in Norway) as the recipe calls for A THIRD OF A DOZEN EGGS (okay, that's only four, but a third of a dozen sounds more impressive)! It's a good thing we were young, as these brownies have enough cholesterol to require you to dissolve Lipitor in the milk you drink with them. It was here that we discovered the rebellious-feeling modification to alter the recipe, replacing the almond extract with rum extract. Mmmmm. Sacrilicious!

Okay, one more Buck's Brownie's© story before you're completely bored of me talking about dessert. One time, a visiting church General Authority from Salt Lake was visiting the Norway mission. It was a HUGE thing, and every missionary in the country came to Oslo to hear him. Since I was serving in Oslo at the time and knew the scheduling secretary pretty well, I hand picked the exact missionaries who would be staying at our apartment. Needless to say, it wasn't the group you'd expect to stay up late into the night discussing the scriptures and gospel principles and kneeling in prayer. What we did stay up late into the night doing... and I'm talking about 4 or 5 in the morning... was play games and, you guessed it, eat Buck's Brownies©. The elder who made them refused to let anyone eat them unless they were frosted. And since we'd run out of powdered sugar, we needed to walk to the 7-11 a mile away to get some. It was around midnight when we set out on that trek, and the entire group... all 10 of us... had to go because no one trusted that those left behind wouldn't eat the brownies while we were gone. After getting back and frosting the brownies, we then had enough sugar in our systems to keep us buzzed until almost 5 am. The General Authority talk was at 9 am, so it should come as no surprise that none of us really heard much of the talk. I don't blame myself as much as I do the Buck's Brownies© for my spiritual downfall.

Now, without further ado, I give you the actual recipe, written in The Buck's OWN HANDWRITING, and written on a sacred missionary weekly planning sheet, to boot! Enjoy! (But don't forget the Lipitor.)


(click on the image for a larger version)

Thanks, Jennifer. From your discovery, the world will never stumble in the dark without the recipe for Buck's Brownies©.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Wind storm

Well the Oregon coast got its first ever hurricane warning and it's been quite a doozy already. Yesterday there were wind gusts up to 100 mph and 45 foot ocean swells. Lots of towns were without power and the second part of the storm is supposed to hit sometime this morning. The saddest part of the storm is that it blew the top off the co-highest Sitka spruce tree in the world (it was over 200 feet tall). Now those bastards in Washington with THEIR Sitka spruce get all the glory and all we have is a stump to pull over on the highway to gawk at.

And gawk at it we did. We only drove by that tree once without looking at it. It was THAT amazing. And now some paper company will reduce the once-glorious pinnacle of Sitka spruce achievement to a couple hundred rolls of toilet paper.

Talk about inflation!

If you go to this website, you'll be able to find out little tidbits about how old you are, like the fact that I'm 13,455 days old! (Or put another way, I'm a bouncing 448-month-old boy.)

And speaking of 448 months ago, check out these numbers from the year of my birth:

Bread: $0.25/loaf
Milk: $1.32/gal
(That's how much we pay for a 20 oz. bottle of WATER nowadays!)
Eggs: $1.18/doz
Car: $3,742
(That's how much car insurance costs... well maybe not EXACTLY that much, but it FEELS like it.)
Gas: $0.36/gal
(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
House: $28,300
(Can you even buy a decent CAR for that much!)
Stamp: $0.08/ea
Avg Income: $11,583/yr
Min Wage: $1.60/hr
DOW Avg: 890

You can check your own at here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Annoying news

On Tuesday, the local FOX news lead their newscast with all the bells and whistles usually reserved for an injured pet or murder. It was the POSSIBILITY of snow in Portland. They had people doing live broadcasts from streets that, if it WERE to snow, would be particularly icy. They interviewed people on the street talking about how icy patches of the road had been that very morning. They did close-ups of the sand used on the streets to increase traction! What they didn't do was show an actual weather report (you had to watch the entire newscast, as weather is on last). Well, yesterday came and went and we didn't get ANY snow... and here I was looking forward to not having to come in to work.

Once more, FOX news has completely disgusted me. (Well, at least they didn't use the potential snow as a venue to claim that global warming isn't happening... they only do that on the national FOX News.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back page eyebrow raiser

In the alternative weekly here in Portland, the back page is the domain of lots of seedy ads for exotic waxing techniques, wanted ads for models for porn shoots, and my favorite this week: "It's almost Hannukah; time for your colonica." Why yes, yes it is. Anyway, it seemed like the most unusual placement for a FedEx want ad seeking "Part Time Package Handlers." I'm thinking that some of the respondents are going to be sadly disappointed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Norway only second-best

In this year's United Nations list of best places to live, Norway fell from its perpetual perch at the top, beaten by its former colony Iceland. Now they're merely number two. The U.S. didn't even make it into the top ten this year, which isn't surprising, what with the growing obesity epidemic and health care system meltdown, chronically underfunded education system, and widening income gap. I guess all those CEO's who got $50 million paychecks lifted the overall average enough, though, to rank us at number 12.

The top five are Iceland, Norway, Australia, Canada, and Ireland.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Food coma

Well, Thanksgiving is over and boy what a food orgy it was. We made literally a GALLON of clam dip, four kinds of pies, and two different kinds of stuffing! I'm going to the gym for a 14-hour workout this afternoon.

Also, Thanksgiving marked the date I'd set for myself to start cutting back on drinking so much Diet Pepsi. I think my subconscious is worried, because last night I had a dream that I was at the movie theatre and wanted to order a pop. The clerk said the 44-ounce was $5 and I told him I didn't want that much pop and he said, "Well, the 32-ounce is $23." In case you couldn't tell, I'm not going to go cold turkey, I'm just going to slowly taper off... over the course of 36 to 48 months.

Finally, after all the post-Thanksgiving shopping frenzy, I had to include this newspaper clipping:



Amen! I HATE getting dressed up to go to Wal-Mart, too. That's why I suggest shopping online, where you don't have to get dressed up... or even dressed at all... to go shopping.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Oh, goodie. The writer's strike is KILLING me!

If you didn't think the tv writers' strike was going to affect you, think again. Now, instead of being presented with hilarious, well-written, inane shows, we'll be assaulted with just plain inane shows. Like most Americans, I like my brain candy, but I prefer to rot my brain to shows that are at least intelligently written, ironic, self-referencing, and witty.

Now thanks to the writers' strike, the tv industry has chosen to respond with the only weapon in their arsenal--frickin' REALITY TV! Reality is what I'm trying to ESCAPE FROM when I want to be a couch potato. Plus, reading descriptions of the upcoming reality shows doesn't give me any reason for hope. Check out a couple of the new shows coming out in January:

Wanna Bet?, where celebrities bet on stunt-performing contestants.
I wonder if Pete Rose is going to be one of the bettors?

Farmer Wants a Wife, helps one farm boy find the city girl of his dreams.
Now if they had a rural Utah version of this show, called "Farmer Wants Another Wife" THAT might be interesting... especially if all the prospective wives were hot. A side benefit is that NONE of the contestants would have to get eliminated... he could marry them ALL!

Crowned: The Mother of all Pageants is a reality competition that features mother-daughter teams working together to win a beauty pageant.
So they're combining the ickiness of the whole Jon-Benet Ramsey thing with unrealistic body issues and premature sexualization. What a combo!

Pussycat Dolls 2: Girlicious
Did this REALLY need a sequel? And what's up with that ridiculous subtitle? Nothing says "I'm an intelligent, well-read, woman like the adjective "girlicious." Shudder.

Moment of Truth is a Columbian import (Columbia has TV?!?) that puts contestants to the test using a polygraph and 21 increasingly personal questions to judge whether they are telling the truth for a chance to win $500,000.
Now we'll finally find out who those criminal bastards are that are cutting off their mattress tags. And thanks to the current Administration, if they don't tell the truth, we can torture waterboard the information out of them.

Baby Borrowers asks five young couples--ages 16 to 19--to set up a home and begin fast-tracking on parenthood by becoming caring parents first to a baby, then a toddler, pre-teen, and grandparents--all over the course of one month.
And at the conclusion, after seeing what they have to look forward to, decide to just play video games for the rest of their lives and forego procreating.

and my personal favorite:
When Women Rule the World a reality show that reveals how women and men react in a world where women are in charge and men are subservient. The participants are brought to a remote location where the women have the opportunity to "rule" as they build a newly formed society-- one with no glass ceiling and no need to dress to impress.
Oh brother! This sounds like "Lord of the Flies" meets "Amazon Women Take Over the World." Plus, it wouldn't surprise me if this show was part of a Republican plan to implant in people's minds that the chaos that will surely happen... it IS a reality show after all... is just a taste of what the entire UNITED STATES would be like if Hilary were elected president.

And there you have it. Seven new reasons to renew your library card.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Honey, where's my Sharpie?


"Mommy, look! I put make-up on the baby! Doesn't he look pretty?"

Public transit adventures, episode 497

Oh my gosh! I'm still having trouble breathing after this morning's commute. I got on the bus and there were a lot of seats in the back, to which I thought, "SCORE!" When I sat down, I instantly realized why all those seats were open... a homeless domestically challenged guy was sitting right next me! As the bus started filling up, the temperature started to rise as did the stench. I had to consiously avoid breathing through my nose, despite knowing that every inhalation filled my lungs with whatever foul emanations were hovering around the guy. Then, to make matters worse, he kept shifting around, spreading the scent. When we got to my stop, I bolted from the bus and tried to exhale as much as possible to get whatever was in my lungs out. Even now, an hour later, I swear I can still smell it in my clothes! I think I might have to run over to the gym for a 45-minute shower and just wear my gym clothes back to work. Uggg!

That experience reminds me of something I wrote on this blog a while back. Here's an excerpt:

The last Harry Potter movie we went to on opening night, we made the mistake of waiting to get in line only ONE hour before the movie started. We ended up sitting two or three rows from the screen, which always makes me sick, and scared my contacts are going to pop out. Anyway, we sit down and decide we can deal with the seats, since it IS opening night and we're kind of rowdy as a group; having fun, etc., when someone sits down in front of me with the absolute WORST B.O. I have EVER SMELLED IN MY ENTIRE LIFE--and I've been to Oklahoma, so that's saying something! It was an unimaginable stench--but if you would like to try imagining a mere HINT of it, try thinking of a leperous hobo that hasn't seen bathwater since his train left Milwaukee back in 1968 AND he has a catfish that he caught just outside of Denver on that same trip in his pocket that he's been saving "for a rainy day" AND the railroad engineer, upon finding him, pushed him off the train into an open cesspool. That should give you a little whiff of what we had to endure. It was so bad that anyone with an outer layer of clothing took it off to breathe through it, and someone found a vial of lavendar essential oil in her purse, which we applied to our upper lips. That odor STILL made it through, but at least it was downgraded to nauseating instead of toxic. The SECOND the credits started rolling, we were climbing over one another in an attempt to leave the theatre. While the others in our group were doing it to flee the putrefaction, I was actually doing it because I'd made the mistake of drinking a large Diet Coke at the start of the movie and my bladder had backed up into my kidneys. Fortunately I escaped the whole ordeal without a bladder infection or a diminished olfactory sense.

At least this time, it was only 15 minutes and not the 2 and half HOURS in a movie theatre!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Best headline.... ever!

You know how Marie Osmond passed out from "allergies" on Dancing with the Stars a couple of weeks back? Yeah, I know... I guess she was taking too many "medications" for those "allergies" and it caught up with her. Well, for whatever reason she lost consciousness, VH-1's show "Best Week Ever" had the best headline introducing their coverage. Their headline was: "Latter Day Faint." PERFECT!

Which reminds me of the Latter Day Faints we stupid missionaries had when making each other pass out in Norway. Talk about something I look back at with complete befuddlement. What could we have been THINKING?!? I guess it was the only way we could kill all those excess brain cells that all post-adolescents have since we couldn't do it with alcohol, drugs, or trash television.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Megasaurus Church

Okay, so Margaret and I were driving through a suburban part of Portland and drove by one of those mega churches that always seem to attract a million people to a minister that ends up involved in a massive embezzlement scheme or sex scandal. You know the kind. Well, anyway, what first caught my eye wasn't the mega building, but the signs in the parking lot:

It's such a big parking lot that they have to mark the areas with books of the Bible! Brother! And how is that such a good idea if you could SWEAR that you parked at the corner of First Galations and Second Timothy, but in reality you parked at Second Galations and First Timothy. What's a good Christian to do? Margaret and I were trying to think up other terms rather than the cumbersome Bible books that would still reflect their core values. I would TOTALLY remember parking areas like 'Love Lane,' 'Peace Promenade,' 'Intolerance Street,' 'Homophobia Avenue,' and 'Blurred-confusion-of-sycophantic-allegiance-to-the-president-and-true-Christian-values Boulevard.'

Busted!

This weekend, I was a volunteer shuttle driver for an event. I was issued a gigantic SUV that was very cumbersome to drive, yet felt oddly empowering to be sitting so high up above the road. Although in our neighborhood, you about run people off the narrow streets in anything larger than a minivan, so that was quite the experience. Anyway, I got to take the car home overnight, as I had to drive early the next morning, too. So I was driving through town and got to the section of downtown where the lights are synchronized, meaning that if you are driving the speed limit, the lights will be green as you drive down the street. Well, I was going a little over and was coming up on a light that was still red, but could see that the other direction was yellow, so I just kept on rolling, knowing that the light would turn green by the time I reached it. As that's how it turned out, only the automatic traffic light didn't like that one bit and I was treated to a flash from the camera for supposedly running a red light. Oops! Good thing it was a rental and not in my name. (Although if they do come knocking, I'm willing to argue my case, because I really didn't do anything wrong.)

Speaking of automated traffic cameras, that reminds me of some elders in Norway who had gone to a go-cart track on their day off. The day was pretty rainy, and so there weren't any other customers besides themselves. They paid for their 15-minute session, but when the employees all heard that some AMERICANS were driving around and judging our driving skills from movies such as Die Hard, Speed, Days of Thunder, and Fast and the Furious 2: Toyko Drift (okay probably not that one, since it hadn't come out yet), they were all clamoring to drive with them. They ended up driving around for several hours on the track and in the process, getting completely saturated. When they went back to their car to go home, they didn't want to get their seats all wet, so they took off their shirts and sat on plastic bags. Well, on the drive home, a traffic camera snapped their picture for speeding. No big deal, right? Wrong. Missionaries' cars are registered in the mission's name, so the photo of two seemingly naked missionaries speeding down the road went straight to the mission office. I don't know their punishment, but both of them got sent above the arctic circle shortly after that.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Turns out I'm not so into that

This weekend, we delivered some Halloween food to some friends of ours. While we were visiting, their daughter kept trying to get her dad and me to set up the race car track that was sitting in their living room. Every few minutes she would remind us that it was there and how fun it would be to set it up and play with it. Finally her pleas were heard and we went in to set up the track. It was a set he'd gotten when he was a kid and it was the classic electric racecar set... it even came with a Norwegian flag for the track! It took a bit of effort to get it all set up... something that their daughter relished helping with. She excitedly followed all our instructions, looking forward to getting it all put together so she could race the cars on it. After quite some doing, we finally got the set assembled and it was with trembling excitement that the daughter put her car on the track to race it. Well, it turns out that the set was really old school in that you had to adjust the speed around the corners and on the straightaways or else the car would go flying off the track... just like a REAL car. It wasn't like the modern ones that you can just pull the trigger all the way down and detachedly watch the car go round and round. Well, the daughter and her dad started racing and she couldn't help but want to make the car go as fast as she could, of course making it fly off the track at every corner. After putting the car back on the track for the twentieth time or so, she handed me the controller and I raced her dad for a few laps. Watching the action, though, just like having to put her car back on the track all the time evidently wasn't what she was so keen to do, as the next thing we hear the daughter say was, "Let's play something else."

Monday, October 29, 2007

Okay, who's the wise guy?

Imagine my surprise when I opened my work mailbox today and found, of all things, a DESERET BOOK CATALOG. Now, for all you who don't know what Deseret Book is, you can find a short tutorial from a December 2005 blog entry here. Needless to say, I can't believe they were able to track me down. I guess they know I'm behind on my Precious Moments Crystal Temple collection. I only have as far as the Vernal Temple and they now have another 74 figurines... I'm SO behind! Either that or someone I know was trying to drop me a hint at what they want for Christmas. Anyone out there want to fess up to it?

Hotbed of creativity

Okay, growing up in a small Idaho town whose claim to fame is that it was the territorial capital of Idaho before those bastards in Boise stole it from us doesn't really say "creative cauldron." I mean, we have BELT SANDER RACES for the love of god! Well, despite all the pressures at the contrary, some glittering flashes of creativity do erupt occasionally. One being myself, of course, but even more so is Bryan Fuller, the writer of three amazing tv shows, two of which (Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me) met an untimely demise due to their quirky nature and stupid network executives. Well, he's back with a new show about a guy who has the power to touch a dead body and it comes back to life, but if he touches them again, they're dead forever. I can't say this with enough conviction: WATCH "PUSHING DAISIES!" 1) It's great, 2) Any show that has the audacity to name the pie shop the main character runs the "Pie Hole" should be rewarded, and 3) We all should support well-written, quirky television writing that (and I can't overemphasize this point too much) IS NOT REALITY TV!!!!! But don't take my word for it. Below is a review in today's paper about Pushing Daisies:

In the spirit of saving the best for last, the time has come to throw down some serious love for ABC's completely bizarre, deeply enjoyable and unexpectedly moving "Pushing Daisies." There are precisely no reasons why a heavily stylized paranormal romantic dramedy whose episodes revolve around crime-solving should work. Except for that it does. Beautifully.

This tale of a pie-maker whose touch can restore life--with major caveats, including the second touch that kills permanently--and the woman he loves but can never touch seems far too precious and far too complicated. But it's not. The gruff private detective keeps things grounded, even as the narration (by "Harry Potter" audio book voice Jim Dale) gives it all a storybook glow.

Get into the show's rhythm and eventually its mind-bending mythology recedes, giving way to a larger story about the mysteries and joys of life, and the importance of engaging in them even when it's easier to slip through without touching anything or anyone.

You can live a whole life without ever making the leap. But a whole other life awaits on the other side. Four weeks in, "Pushing Daisies" is building its own sweet, colorful place there, too."


Just watch it!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Proper nutrition

The other day, Margaret and I were eating at Outback Steakhouse. (We don't eat there as regularly as we did in college, where all the servers knew us and our order... and they knew to bring me my Diet Coke refill when my glass was 1/4 from being drained. Ahh, the good old days.) Anyway, after dinner, with both of us feeling particularly stuffed, I realized that I hadn't had any calcium in my diet that day. Fortunately Outback offers calcium on their menu... sweet, coconut-encrusted, hot fudge dripping calcium. No osteoporosis for me. No siree!

Which reminds me of one time on a camping trip, my mom had made an enormous breakfast. I don't know what it is about breakfast and camping, but something about breathing forest-filtered air all night must take a lot of energy, because I don't know anyone who doesn't wake up ravenous on a camping trip. Anyway, the usual camping breakfast is elevated to the equivalent of a Valhalla feast welcoming Viking warriors once my mom is through with it. Ham, eggs, bacon, potatoes, sausage, biscuits, steak cutlets, toast, pancakes, orange juice, milk, hot cocoa, and occasionally a quiche! Well, we had just finished breakfast and were cleaning up when my aunt opened the cooler and saw her yogurt, saying, "Oh yeah, my diet." And proceeded to eat that, too! It was then and there that I learned that eating a sweetened dairy product could undo a 3,500 calorie meal. Information that has served me well. (Which is why I recommend eating your pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving with LOTS of whipped cream!)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Interesting meeting

This sign was posted at the building where I get my morning drug fix Diet Pepsi. Don't you hate it when you miss an important sign and think you're at your normally thrill-a-minute mortuary meeting and all they're talking about is condoms vs. the rhythm method?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Two sides of racial insensitivity

Well this weekend's event went off with only minor hitches. Not like in years past when we had problems setting up the tepee village in torrential rains, with the cavalry breathing down our necks, and settlers plying us with smallpox-infested blankets. Our previous woes made running out of staples to post the faux-rawhide signage downright insignificant. For the most part, the attendees treated all my presenters with respect and interest, but a couple of incidents reminded me that we can't change 500 years of history overnight. Here are two examples:

1) One of the presenters was dressed in full traditional tribal regalia. She had on a wing dress, beaded necklaces, mink fur-covered braids, hand woven cornhusk bag, and moccasins. She was talking to a woman and said something about Indian dancing. Upon hearing that, the woman she was talking to reached over and touched her elbow and in a I'm-the-enlightened-White-woman-and-you're-the-simple-savage tone, said, "Don't you mean 'Native American'." My presenter didn't even know how to respond. And when she told me the story, I had to admit, I would have been pretty dumbstruck, too.

and 2) Another presenter was a man doing flintknapping demonstrations, making arrowheads and knife blades with obsidian. He looks very classically Indian, with dark bronze skin and long black braids. Well someone walked up to him, raised her hand, and said, "How." He took it with humor and told me that he thought she was Romanian or something like that given her accent... but STILL!

I'll end with an incident that showed me we are making progress, though. Since the point of setting up the Indian village is to highlight the importance of salmon to tribal cultures in the Pacific Northwest, (and the agency I work does biological and other scientific research for the tribes), there was a tepee devoted to salmon science. We had microscopes, radio tags, preserved specimens, etc. After visiting that tepee, a little girl ran to her parents, yelling, "the Indians are so SMART!"

THAT'S the message I'd been hoping for. (Well, that and that Indians prefer the term "Indian" over "Native American," they hate it when people say "How" to them unless it's in an ironic or satirical tone.) FYI.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Post-event

Phewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Do I have to keep walking?

I read this this morning on a blog I follow:

"I'm so tired of life right now. If I die, I'm cool with it. Not that I'm suicidal or anything, because I'm not. I'm just okay with being done."

Raise your hand if you've never felt like that. Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Bart Simpson

In case you ever wondered what I would look like as Bart Simpson, here's a picture of me at Target. Sorry about the sporadic posts. I hate it when work interferes with my blogging. The big event I'm working on is this coming weekend, so after that, I hope to be back to my smarmy self again.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Social niceties

Do you ever see sights that are so unusual you just want to pull up a lawn chair and watch as the drama unfolds but are prevented from even a lingering stare thanks to the cruel mistress "Politeness?" This morning, while at Noah's Bagels (of course), I could see a woman sit down on the sidewalk table and carefully pull a Beanie Baby dog out of her bag. When Margaret and I left the shop, we walked by the woman, by now in a conversation with her polyester friend. I so wanted to listen in on the conversation, but alas, social convention prevented my eavesdropping. Now I may never know what kinds of secrets some who talks to stuffed animals shares with her toys.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Child development

The American Pediatric Association recommends that children be exposed to enough corporate advertising to allow them to identify the major brands by the time they're 2. This puzzle will go a long way in you child's development. Notice they didn't have to include any Disney logos there...something about all their products were specifically designed to act as CRACK to babies, sucking all their attention and leaving just a husk of a child during the duration of the video. We have some friends with a 1.5 year-old and literally cannot take his eyes from the TV screen if Nemo is on. (Like I'm a good one to talk... only with me it's The Simpsons The Book of Mormon.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Electrocution

We have a circa 1940's oven and range that has definitely seen better days. I'm sure at the time it was the bee's knees, but an oven capable of only roasting a single Cornish game hen or one crême brulée at a time was getting old. One time we bought a pizza at Costco and had to cut it in half to fit it in the oven. (It's small because it has an interchangable burner that can be used as an indoor grill and all the fat drippings had to be sent somewhere...somewhere being a third of the oven space. Also, the preheat doesn't turn itself off when the oven has heated up. I can't tell you how many times we have pulled things out of the oven completely burnt on top but uncooked in the middle because the broiler burner was on the whole time! If it was only the small oven and bad design of the preheating mode, we would have probably just lived with it, but the thing isn't grounded and so if you happen to be touching the stove and ever so SLIGHTLY brush the sink with even a fingertip you get an execution-level shock. One time Margaret forgot about it and put her hand in the sink full of water and couldn't pull it out without a lot of effort. If only I'd have had a stick, I could have freed her.

Anyway, after EIGHT YEARS of living with that range, we committed to getting a new one...and it didn't come cheap, either, as we don't have space for a ventilation hood so had to get a downdraft model with increases the price to the cost of a commercial oven at Costco. Well, when the installers came, they said it wouldn't fit and just took it back. I was a little incredulous, wondering if the installers were just being lazy, so I did my own research and, lo and behold, it's perfectly capable of being installed. When I called Sears to complain, they were extremely apologetic about it and promised a resolution, but still...there's a Costco pizza waiting to christen our new oven that's not getting any fresher. At least in the meantime, we can amuse ourselves by tricking each other to touch the stove and sink at the same time.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Going car-free

Today there was an article in the newspaper about people who have willingly given up their cars for various reasons like being expensive, bad for the environment, supports terrorism, or the lack of ones that fly as seen on Back to the Future. Well, one of the couples talked about taking the bus to the hospital when the wife was going into labor... yes LABOR! Of all the possible reasons for taking a taxi, topping even being late for your wedding or a 10% off sale at the Apple Store, it would be having a frickin' BABY! Plus, will they just take it home on the bus, too? Those things are CRAWLING with germs. (The buses are pretty filthy, too.) You would have thought people that crunchy would have had a home birth, now that I think of it.

Another couple decided to give up their car when they couldn't replace a tire on their...wait for it...MERCEDES SUV?!? Talk about pushing your credit to the limits. No wonder our financial system is collapsing.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Future superstar comedian

My 6-year-old nephew is perhaps the most hilarious kid I know...and I'm not just saying that because he's related to me and I'm biased. This weekend we all went to the Pendleton Round-Up (a rodeo for all you non-Westerners) and a couple of happenings concreted his position of Funniest Child Alive© status:

1) After stealing a couple of strawberries from the garden of the house we were renting and my brother started to cuss him out, he drawled out, "Relaaaaaaax! They'll just think squirrels ate them."

2) At the rodeo, whenever the rodeo clown looked our direction, he hid, terrified that the clown was going to call him out to the arena. This was even more stressful given that he HATES clowns. When I told him that I hated them, too and that they kind of scare me (I read Steven King's 'It' when I was a little too young), he replied, "Welcome to my world." And the world-weary tone he said it in just added to the delivery.

When my mom told him that a comedian was someone who gets paid to make people laugh, he said, "Sign me up! That's the job for me."

I'll say.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What in the...!

What in the world! Imagine my utter horror and disbelief to find this in my work mailbox today:


(Click on it to enlarge it in case you can't read it.)

I knew I was getting older, after all, I've stopped hiding peas under my plate and don't compulsively text message all my friends as much as I used to. But the frickin' AARP!?! And to add insult to injury, specifically points out that I'm "fully eligible!" What the hell does THAT mean? I guess 36 is the new 50. I wonder if buying that Polydent to attach shark teeth to my car tagged me in their database. It was either that or buying the "Lawrence Welk Plays the Greatest Hits of Britney Spears" off the iTunes music store.

...hold the presses! It was the CRUISE! Argg! I KNEW we should have gone on one of those slutty Carribean cruises! That would have added me to the Promiscuous Living Maxim mailing list. Then I could have gotten condom coupons in the mail instead of ones for Depends.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Good neighborhood

Don't you hate it when you get up on a Saturday morning and decide to break with tradtion and go to McDonald's for a greasy breakfast sandwich instead of a peanut butter bagel and when you come back discover that you've left your front door open. And by open, I don't mean unlocked... I mean literally OPEN! When we came in the house, we shouted, "I hope there isn't anyone in here, because our dog doesn't take kindly to strangers." There wasn't anyone, and since we still had all our Fabergé eggs, we assumed no one had been in the house either. Phew!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Burned... by a fake candle

On our cruise, open flames were a strict no-no (evidently nothing ruins a cruise faster than people escaping an inferno by jumping into iceberg-strewn waters). Well, there still is something to be said for the romantic glow of candles at the dinner table, and the World of Tomorrow© has provided us with a solution (please continue to stand by for that cancer cure... and the flying cars...) The restaurants had what we thought were little tea lights on the tables, but noticed with alarm that the busboys were putting paper or napkins over them when they were clearing for the next guests. Then Margaret noticed that they weren't candles at all but clever little LED lights that merely looked like open flame. Well, when we got back on land, I was looking online for the fake candles and lo and behold, found some that were even COOLER than the tea lights. The online description told about the wonders of this particular candle that you turned off by blowing on it... just like blowing out a real candle. But wait... there's MORE. You turned it on by... wait for it... BLOWING on it. Holy Dumbledore! Every magical novel includes that little trick, and here we could have it in the comfort of our own home, without the whole getting excommunicated for practicing witchcraft process that takes YEARS to resolve.... plus they confiscate your wand, too! Anyway, upon seeing that, I had to had them, so I ordered them and they came yesterday. Well, I pulled them out and they did look cool. In fact they were encased in real wax, furthering the illusion. Then the moment truth came. I blew on the candle to put it out... nothing. I blew a little harder... still nothing. Thinking that maybe the little hole where the sensor was was blocked, I cleaned it out and tried again. Still nothing. I kept increasing the force of blows until I reached Hurricane Katrina level windspeeds, finally managing to "blow out" of the candle just before I passed out from hyperventilating. It required a similar hurricane-force wind to blow the candle on. There went any mystery or magic to impress guests. Hey folks! Check it out. If I inhaled twice my lung capacity and blow with all my might, and hit the sensor JUST RIGHT, look what happens. ...Subtle. I'm going to pack them back up and send them back. Unless any of you out there have emphysema and need a lung exerciser. In that case, I'll sell them to you...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

No pockets? No problem!

A couple weeks back we went to the Adult Soapbox derby here in Portland and saw this guy. I guess it shows how creative beer drinkers can be. If you don't have pockets or a special hat that hold beer, then what better place than in your skin-tight satin shorts to stick your bottle of beer? (And thankfully he stuck it in the back, rather than the front... that would be a little too conspicuous.)

Speaking of beer, I remember one time in Norway, it was fashionable for the missionaries to drink non-alcoholic beer with people investigating the church (but before they'd been told that they would have to give up drinking Devil Water). Well, one of my companions was offered what he thought was non-alcoholic beer, as the label said "Lett Øl" (øl means "beer" in Norwegian). After drinking about half of it, the guy pointed out that "lett" translates to "light" rather than "fake" and that he was really drinking the equivalent of Bud Light. Oops. That'll teach him to slack off in language class!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Good ol' America

Check out the results of this poll. Evidently people are more concerned that their elected official agrees with them over gay marriage than the frickin' ENVIRONMENT! Let me tell you which one has the potential to affect, let's see, THE ENTIRE PLANET! Jeesh!



Wait, does this survey bode well or ill for Senator Craig? So confusing...

You can read about the report here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Nighttime Excitement

Despite the title, I'm not talking about anything lurid here... I'm talking about the complete lunar eclipse last night! (WARNING: Nerd alert!) I'd been wanting to see it, so I set my alarm clock to make sure I'd get a chance. It started at 2:54 in the morning, and all night, I'd wake myself up thinking it was time for the eclipse. Then, when I wasn't waking up, I was having crazy dreams about seeing the eclipse... one of which totally freaked me out, involving a security camera that was comprised of human eyes that watched me, rancid lychee fruits, and a bed with an integrated rolltop desk, trampoline, and hot tub. Needless to say, I was relieved when the eclipse finally started, as I was tired of the anticipation. It turned out to be very cool. I took some pictures, including this one. My camera isn't really designed for time exposures and the zoom isn't that great, so excuse the blurriness. If you look close, though, you can see the moon, a star that was nearby, and a family of raccoons that were on our lawn waiting to attack me when I took the picture (it's pretty dark, though, you might not be able to see the raccoons).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bookwoorm chefs

Here's a little product for all you avid readers who love to cook.... and those who would like nothing better to do than take a knife to a book... especially one as full of smut as a Shakespeare.

Coffee

When I first discovered this whole 'blog' phenomenon back in the early years of the 21st century, one of the one's that caught my attention was Dooce. It's written by a Utah woman who used to be Mormon, moved to California, fell away from the church, got married, then moved back to Utah and is now a thorn in the side of all her Mormon family members. I highly recommend giving her a read now and then (it's at www.dooce.com)... plus she writes WAY more often than I do on her blog, which makes sense, because, you know, she's getting PAID to do it. Anyway, today's post was about how to smuggle coffee to her mom's cabin when there were going to be a bunch of Mormon relatives there. They settled on those General Foods International Coffees as they looked enough like hot chocolate to not raise any flags with judgemental family members. My favorite part was this:

Also, it doesn’t look at all like coffee, which is a bonus because that means we don’t have to try and explain to my nieces and nephews why we would so voluntarily drink the Tears of Satan.

One of my sister’s six-year-old twin boys watched intently as Jon drank his first cup this morning. “Are you drinking hot chocolate?” he asked.

“Yes,” lied Jon. “Very delicious non-Mormon hot chocolate.”


Speaking of Tears of Satan, I was responsible for refreshments for a meeting once and that included ordering all the coffee. Well, not having ANY idea how much coffee to order, I just guessed. When we ran out of our day's order by 10 am, someone asked, "Who asked the MORMON to order the coffee?!? To him, even one drop is too much!" (But in my defense, we DID have enough Jell-O salad for several days of meetings.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I LOVE working

Thank heavens I'm American. I would hate to live in one of those evil countries that had legally mandated paid vacations. Let's all take a moment (but remember to clock out first) to remember those poor souls in Europe, Japan, and our neighbor to the north that aren't blessed with the opportunity to work year-round with the spectre of losing their health care constantly looming over them.

Logging

I guess it's not a clearcut if you can still see a tree when you're done raping the forest. That was one of the provision's of Bush's new forest management plan. That and cell towers disguised as trees counted as real trees.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Polygamy


Thank heavens we're Mormon or Margaret would have been PISSED! (As it is, she already calls my iPhone Jezebel!)

LOTTERY!

Of course since this week's Powerball was nearing a quarter BILLION dollars, I bought a ticket and guess what? WE WON! I matched the Powerball number and will be picking up my $3 on my way home from work today. I think I'll take Margaret out to Taco Bell with our winnings!

Monday, August 20, 2007

THE BLOB!

Don't you hate it when you buy a package of frozen bread roll dough and then forget that you're thawing it out on the counter and end up leaving it out all night and then when you come downstairs in the morning for breakfast, you look over and see a gigantic thing on the counter and realize that the dough burst out of the plastic packaging and is trying to take over the house? Thank heavens we caught in it time... I shudder to imagine what would have happened if it had engulfed us in our sleep. We punished the dough by putting it in a 375º death chamber and then dropped it in gastric acid. It was the only way to neutralize its evil powers.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Cruise options

On the cruise ship, many of the mundane tasks were done by, I'm assuming, house elves. Stuff was always mysteriously straightened up, fixed, or prepared. Every evening, they had been by to turn down our beds, fluff our pillows, leave a mint, and sculpt our new towels into increasingly elaborate shapes (the final night mine was folded into the shaped of Westminster Abbey!), the house elves would leave a schedule of things to do the following day. Well each day, one of the scheduled items was a "Friends of Dorothy Get-together." Now, from watching the movie "Clueless" about 600 times, Margaret and I were familiar with this euphemism for a gay person, but we thought it was such an odd title for the schedule. I guess it was to protect all the blue-haired ladies from going completely ballistic that such folk were on board and have them retreat to the ship's chapel to pray for their immortal souls rather than spend two times the cost of their cruise on bingo and booze. When we got back, I asked a mission friend if "Friends of Dorothy Get-together" meant what we thought it meant. He replied that, yes, it definitely did. And I trust him, as he's a Friend of Dorothy© himself.

Now don't get all shocked to hear that a Mormon return missionary is gay. I'm sure if you've been reading this blog for more than four or five days you'll have realized that the Norwegian mission was quite... close to excommunication liberal. Among the group I was there with, not only are there gays but there are people who have been in federal prison, voted for John Kerry, didn't get married in the temple, have consumed alcohol, have watched rated R movies, chronically drive over the posted speed limit, and the coup de grâce, are ACCOUNTANTS! This is so the opposite of the rural Brazilian returned missionaries who all became seminary teachers and have an average of 6.8 children.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A collection of Alaska photos

Here's a little overview of our Alaska cruise:

Our first stop was at Ketchikan. This town was built around salmon, literally! Salmon Creek runs through the old part of town and all the buildings were built out over the creek where the salmon were running. Even the brothels! (Although today they're just museums to the prostitution industry. We didn't pay to go inside... if I'm spending money at a brothel, I'm usually not looking for a tour of the place.)

Ketchikan has the largest collection of totem poles in the world, and so of course, we had to go gawk at them. There were all sorts of cool designs and figures, but this one caught my eye. What in the world is up with that square? Was there something there that was removed to protect our puritanical sensibilities? Maybe they moved it to the brothel museum.

Our next stop was in Juneau, where we went on a shore excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier and whale watching tour. When we got to the glacier, the driver told us we could go directly to the visitors' center or take a little side path that takes you to see the glacier before heading into the visitors' center. We opted for the hike and not 50 feet from the trail head, spotted a bear cub in a tree, then a mother bear and two cubs in another tree! They were there to gorge on all the sockeye salmon that were spawning in the creek. Evidently there had been a big male that had come through recently, which is why they were up in the trees. We didn't think it was anything dangerous at all being so close to them... probably because I knew that if there had been bear trouble, we could have outrun most of the other people on our tour.

Here's Mendenhall Glacier. Photos don't give this justice. It was a sight to behold. And the blue of a glacier is indescribable. I'm just glad we got to see it before global warming adds it to the ocean depths. There were markers showing how much it has receded in the past 50 years. This picture was taken from the spot where the glacier's edge reached back in 1952!

The highlight of the cruise for me was cruising up the Tracy Arm fjord to the Seward Glacier. The mountains were so wild and rugged and tall and all the ice floating in the water was totally impressive. The whole time we were cruising up the fjord, I could help but think of Greig's "Hall of the Mountain King" because I could totally imagine that this is the place where trolls and giants lived. That or the Mines of Moria were in one of the mountains.

At the end of the fjord, two glaciers drop into the water. Seward Glacier and South Seward Glacier. It was amazing to see the giant jumble of blue ice tumbling into the water. It was also nerve-wracking at this point, when the ship spun 180º to leave the fjord. I'm sure the helmsman was biting his nails at that one.

Our next stop was Skagway. Here you can see our cruise ship "Norwegian Star" docked and in the background see yet ANOTHER glacier high up on the mountain. This town was totally wild west, although since the population increases ten-fold when the FOUR cruise ships come in several times a week, (seriously, the population is less than 900 people and there are over 3000 people on each ship!) Of course, with all those tourists, a ridiculous amount of stores were selling jewelry... and not cool Alaskan-designed jewelry but the exact same jewelry we saw in the cruise ports at the Bahamas and Florida.

We went on a tour of White Pass, where people hoping to strike it rich in the Klondike traipsed up from Skagway. Of course, what took them weeks of arduous climbing, risking their lives and sanity, we traveled in about an hour. This picture is the view down the valley from White Pass.

At the top of White Pass, which is in British Columbia, it gets so cold in the winter that the trees are all completely stunted. Here's a picture of me as a giant in the dwarf forest. Hey, I WAS the Mountain King!

Moe's Tavern is the oldest continuously operated bar in all of Alaska! It was so smoky inside that I didn't go in an see if it was Moe Sizlack bartending.

On the way back out of Skagway, the sun set behind the rugged mountains enclosing the fjord and I was able to get this picture. It can't capture the size and scope of the vista, so you'll just have to visit it yourself if you want to see it in all its glory. (And I'd recommend sooner rather than later, because those glaciers are getting any bigger!)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Not just shuffleboard

I'm still reeling from the abrupt return to real life that I was dragged back into at 6:30 this morning. After a week of sleeping as late as I wanted, being plied with as much food as I could hold, seeing the most amazing scenery I could imagine, and having hardly no schedule but to be indulged, I wasn't too keen on going back to work.

We went into this cruise not really knowing what to expect. We had this niggling worry in the back of our heads that they are just an excuse for old people to play shuffleboard. In fact when we first got on board, we walked over the shuffleboard area... yikes! Well, once we got our bearings, we quickly found the buffet line, which was just the start of our 7-day food binge. I mean we were offered food at all hours and at all locations. I could be walking from one end of the ship to the other, and since it was a half-mile walk, would work up an appetite en route and be able to grab some pie, cheesecake, or at least a cookie for the trek. I hadn't eaten that much food since I was living in the dorms at college! (A time in my life when I was 50 lbs. heavier, might I add!) Some of the food was burgers or buffet foods, but there were also 10 restaurants on board that served pretty high-end stuff like duck, escargot, and lobster. We didn't discover the restaurants until day three--prior to that we'd just eaten at the buffet. After that, we just went crazy. To cap one of the evenings, there was a chocoholic's buffet at 11:00 at night that was only desserts! Nothing like eating 6,000 calories right before you stumble into bed to sleep off a food coma. Fortunately there was a gym on board, or I don't know how I could have managed to eat so much food. (Although I think I walked several miles a day just walking back and forth around that floating city.)

Now I just keep thinking about ways to go an another cruise... and this week's lottery is $181 million. If I won that, I'd be able to cruise until I died... which would only be 3 years, since I'd surely keel over with congestive heart failure or morbid obesity before too long.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Gold rush

We're off tomorrow for an adventure to the great white north. We wanted to see if we could strike it rich in the fabled Yukon gold fields... that and also see Alaska's glaciers before global warming reduces them to the size of ice cubes. We'll be like the old 49'ers, slogging our way on the Yukon Trail, hauling everything by mule, on an avaricious quest for gold, Gold, GOLD! What's that? Ooo, karaoke on the Ledo Deck? Umm, gotta go... check the hardtack is packed on the mules, yeah, that's it! Be back a week from Monday.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Scandal-ridden missionaries

Just as I finished up the last post about questionable missionary activities, I got an email from an old mission friend telling me about some elder that applied for unemployment while he was serving a mission. And he got it. Unfortunately the wheels of government, while slow, do turn eventually, and when they found out, they wanted all their money back! Actually, it was a pretty good idea, as there was no traceable employment or means of support for the missionaries in regards to tax records or anything. Talk about a way to supplement funds to... uh, spread the gospel... yeah, that's why he was doing it... I'm sure of it...

Simpsonized


The other day when my sister was visiting Portland, we went to the movies and the Simpsons were there! They scrunched over a bit and let me sit down for a quick picture, but looking at the photo, I look completely sick to my stomach... or drunk. I had NO idea that Junior Mints are filled with bourbon!

Which reminds me of a train trip in Norway. Right before Christmas, I got transfered from one side of the country to the other, which meant a LONG train ride. I was riding with another elder and a sister missionary and so we sat together and played games, visited... well, essentially anything except talk religion to the other passengers. After a bit, I got out a box of chocolates that a member had given me as a Christmas present. I had a few, as did the other elder, but the sister missionary went to town on those chocolates like Ralphie's little brother Randy eating mashed potatoes in "A Christmas Story." Seriously, she ate almost half the box of them. After a bit, she started talking louder and louder and LOUDER, complaining about the rail car being too hot, etc. Upon investigation, I realized that the chocolates were all liqueur-filled. Now all you out there who have an intimate experience with the Drink of Satan© might think that that's an exaggeration, but to a Mormon missionary never having known the pleasures of hooch before, I think she had a VERY low tolerance. Ah, nothing like a train ride through the wilds of Scandinavia with a drunk missionary. Yes, THAT'S the kind of mission I was on.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Diet Solutions

I wonder why that oppresive government agency the FDA pulled this product. It's proven to work for literally THOUSANDS of years.

Shudder. Can you imagine WILLINGLY ingesting tape worms? (Although if it meant that I could eat as many peanut M&M's as I wanted....) Fortunately the fine print at the bottom states "No ill effects," (I guess having the occasional worm crawl out your butt doesn't count as an "ill effect") so go ahead and order yours today!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Oh my gosh... best... movie... ever

Okay, so that's a little exaggerated, but it was still very, very enjoyable. One of my favorite quotes was from President Schwarzenegger, who said, "I was elected to lead, not to read!" And the world finally got to hear Maggie's first word (I won't tell you what it was, though... you'll have to watch the movie if you want to find out.)

Now I don't have any new movies to look forward to for the rest of the summer. (Yes, can you believe I'm not holding my breath in anticipation of Underdog?)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Here at last, here at last, thank God almighty, here at last!

I can still remember the first time I ever saw the Simpsons in those halcyon days of yesteryear. It was a revelation! Having grown up with Knight Rider, Remington Steele, and the A-Team, this was a breath of fresh air... parody, antiestablishment, AND roll-on-the-floor hilarious, all rolled up in a neat animated package. My best friend growing up would record them... and on VIDEOTAPE! It was THAT long ago!... and let me borrow the tape. (We lived out in the country and didn't get FOX. In fact, we only got one channel and it came in blurry on good days and completely snowy or not at all on others. In fact I can remember my dad outside in the pouring rain with a pipe wrench trying to turn the antenna to get better reception just to watch Murder She Wrote. Yes, life WAS hard out in the country.) Anyway, upon watching the very first episode, my family was hooked. In fact my little brother completely related to and absorbed the hellion lessons taught by Bart Simpson (Lessons that evidently soaked in, as he's still just as irreverent and cynical as ever). That videotape got completely worn out from recording and watching and rewatching it week after week after week. It became something precious to be passed back and forth between my friend and me, endlessly discussed and reenacted... usually at church. My friend's mom, though, couldn't stand the show and made no qualms about telling him how it was so evil, contrary to church teachings, downfall of the family, harbinger of the Second Coming©, etc., etc. (Which, as any parent should know, made him want to watch it even more.) Well one day my friend's little brother, either hoping to garner favor from his mother or just being a complete brown-noser, took the precious videotape and crushed it to oblivion in a vise! Yes... a VISE! How cliché. The least he could have done was cast it into holy water or burning brimstone or something more symbolic. I remember even my MOM being pissed that the tape was destroyed. Those brothers still don't get along too well, and I think it stems back to that fateful day when the episodes died. Fortunately now in the age of DVDs and watching Simpsons on iPhones, it's all just a bad memory.

Which brings me to tonight's premiere! Eighteen long years of waiting have finally brought us to the Simpsons movie. We've collected a gang to go to the flick... although I'm not shaving my head and drawing on two comb over lines for a costume. (I'll leave that to my brother-in-law.) I'll suffice with just not shave this morning so I'll have a Homer Simpson-like five o'clock shadow.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Knock, knock

Normally I like cats, but I read an article today about a kitty in Rhode Island that lives in a hospice and curls up in bed with people if they're going to die within 4 hours... kind of like Anna Nicole Smith (edited due to breach in good taste... too soon!). Talk about traumatic... I'm sure that all the residents of the hospice dread seeing that cat walk down the corridor. I'd be hoping that he just passed my room by for the grumpy old man in 6C who always walks around naked. Or I'd get a dog. You can read the article here.

Actually, we had a cat that could predict the death of my sister-in-law. She's so allergic to cats that if Hello Kitty would have curled up in bed with her, she'd have surely been dead within 4 hours... that or at least have her entire face swell up like Danny DeVito's... and THAT'S worse than DEATH!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

This week's 'Picture is Worth 1,000 Words'



Go outside and play... or at least read the new Harry Potter book!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Those royals!

Call me a purist, but I always prefer my royals to be all pomp and ceremony, embodying their nation and showing us all how to wave with the back of our hand. When Fergie (the Duchess of York... not the one from the Black Eyed Peas) started hawking Weight Watchers, I thought it was crass... that would be like President Bush promoting Halliburt... wait, nevermind. Anyway, you get the picture. Well, I just read an article that tops Fergie's money-making efforts! Norway's Princess Märta Louise has started a new business teaching people how to become clairvoyants and communicate with angels. ANGELS! I'm sorry, but I think if you're royal, you should really leave talking with angels to Charlie.

Here's the article.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Successful advertising

Margaret and I went to the coast with Will and Deb this weekend (despite the Harry Potter release... more on that later). We stayed in a sleepy little coast town called Neskowin (a Siletz Indian word meaning "backwater") that was so small that it only had one Kwik-E-Mart style shop, a post office that was in the hotel lobby, a stagecoach station, and a single restaurant. It was perfect for getting away from it all... and by 'all' I mean kitschy shops, salt water taffy stands, and electricity. While I was in the Kwik-E-Mart waiting in the checkout line, I overheard a couple in front of me asking the woman at the register if the closest place for pizza was in Lincoln City (about 1/2-hour away). The woman replied, "We have an oven here... we can cook a frozen pizza for you." To which the customer said that they were really looking for something a little more upscale. Without hesitation, the woman added, "Well, we have DiGiorno!" I guess their marketing message got through! In fact, maybe I should send the story to Mega-Chem Corp. (owner's of DiGiorno and Mama's Organic Selections Foods), for them to use in their advertising.

Later that night, Margaret and I were Potter-crazy enough to drive the half-hour to Lincoln City. Will and Deb passed on the opportunity for adventure and opted to stay in the warm and dry hotel while Margaret and I braved the torrential rains and gale-force winds... probably sent by the Dark Lord himself to block our passage. Seriously, several times we thought, "This is CRAZY! Why are we DOING this?" It was hard to see, dangerous driving conditions, and late at night, but we slogged on. We'd been to every other initial release since book 2, so HAD to do it. We were compelled, as if someone were using the Imperius curse on us (and I think that it was the publisher). Eventually we got to the Lincoln City library, where there were several hundred people milling around foaming at the bit to get their hands on the last book. We were number 79 on the list, and at about 10 minutes after midnight, we finally got our hands on the book. We left right after, as there were kids already skipping to the end and reading aloud the final word, (it's "well" if you wondered), and then trying to read aloud the last paragraph. We heard some parents saying, "We gotta get out of here... this is breaking down." Margaret and I ran from the library with our fingers in our ears to make sure we didn't hear anything about the story as we sprinted to the car. The drive back was just as dangerous, but fortunately the only driving mistake I made was trying to get into the parking lot of the hotel and accidentally turned onto their lawn. (Which made Margaret really confident in how well I could see in the dark.) Now I'm patiently waiting for Margaret to finish the book so I can read the startling conclusion... so don't tell me ANYTHING!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

He's a little dense, that one.

I don't know what's wrong with me. Either it's all the Diet Coke I've been drinking or I'm developing early onset Alzheimer's... or that I'm completely scatterbrained... nah, that's not it. I'll blame the government. Anyway, I've had the Harry Potter book 7 release date on my calendar since about... well, FOREVER. Margaret's brother and his wife are visiting us this weekend and I saw the crazy book release parties here in Portland as a great way of showing them how debauched wacky our city is. Well, since the release was on Saturday, I scheduled a trip to the coast for Friday. I figured we would have plenty of time to come back the next day to attend one of the late-night bookstore parties on the release date. It wasn't until last night, while brushing my teeth (why is it that tooth brushing offers such moments of clarity? I think that's what Einstein was doing when he thought up the theory of relativity, Dave Thomas thought up the SQUARE HAMBURGER PATTY, and when Doc Brown thought up the flux... oh wait, he was doing something else... but you see where I'm going). I slapped my forehead in disgust and dismay as I realized that Saturday starts one minute past midnight on FRIDAY NIGHT!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I wonder if there are bookstores on the coast?

Irish pride

Yesterday, Margaret and I were driving down the road and saw this truck with the Irish flag painted on the tailgate. Nothing says Irish pride like a spray painted redneck truck cruising around. It's a combination that just screams, "Póg mo thóin!" I'm sure all the people back in the old country are so proud. I'll bet the driver eats Lucky Charms, too! Of course it wasn't THAT surprising, given our neighborhood. Right before spotting the truck, we had just seen three street musicians dressed up as a four-armed monkey and a banana and a guy dressed up in classic golf wear (knickerbockers, sweater, tie, and those flat old man hats... you know what I'm talking about). Ahh, Hawthorne!

Speaking of Irish pride, a couple years back Margaret and I hosted a baby shower for some friends of ours who are from Ireland. We had a whole Irish/American theme going on (including bowls of Lucky Charms). Well, since the Irish flag is essentially three colored panels, Margaret sewed a gigantic Irish flag to cover up our hideous and dilapidated garage. This picture is of the happy couple posing in front of the flag, so you can get an idea of how big it was. (I blurred their pictures, as they're actually hiding out in the US... in fact the Brad Pitt/Harrison Ford movie "The Devil's Own" was based on their story!) Well, I'm embarrassed to say that the shower was almost three years ago and the flag is still up. We never bothered to take it down, since the front of the garage was so awful, but now the faded, stained, and fraying remnant is probably an insult to any Irish man, woman, or child that drives by. We're expecting an honor killing from the IRA any day now.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Taco Bell woes

After literally YEARS of eating at Taco Bell... and often times eating there every day for lunch at work... I finally broke my record for not squirting one of those pesky little ketchup packets all over my shirt. And of course I broke this record on the day that I have to give an off-site presentation for work. This is going to be terrible! Now people are going to be paying more attention to my chest than what I'm saying. I'll bet NO ONE could imagine what that would be like.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bumper sticker of the day

"At least the war on the environment is going well."

Potter-mania

In case you've been under a rock, locked in solitary confinement, or in Arkansas, you've surely heard that the latest Harry Potter movie came out last Wednesday. Well, of course we had to go see it, but due to a sick friend with parental obligations, we were delayed until Friday. Normally we would have been there opening night to see the extravaganza, glitz, and glamour that invariably takes place at such events including costumes, games, etc. Well, since it was two days past the opening and we went to a suburban theatre instead of one in the city there was none of that.

We weren't about to let the delay and location stop us, though. Margaret and I donned our new magical hats we'd bought for the occasion. I bought mine thinking it looked like the Sorting Hat (and I was prepared to use it to judge people... just like the Sorting Hat does!), although now that I look at the picture, I think it makes me look more like a scarecrow. We only wore it into the theatre, though... a fact I'm sure the people behind us were greatful for. Margaret also smuggled in some "Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans." They've added two new flavors recently: dill pickle and rotten egg. After unfortunately getting the dill pickle-flavored one, I realized that this would be a great diet aid: after eating that disgusting flavor, I couldn't eat for a while afterward as the thought of that nasty taste pretty effectively reduced my appetite to nothing.

Well, the book release party is this Friday, so we'll have another opportunity to get dressed up... only this time, we might put together more complete outfits than hats. Although since we don't have a brush broom, Margaret will have to make due with a vacuum, or maybe a Swiffer. Those fly just as well, don't they?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

LiLo got an iPhone

I just heard that Lindsay Lohan got an iPhone. With its smooth glass surface, it's the perfect portable coke-cutting and snorting station... and it makes calls to your dealer... and it can map the quickest route back to rehab.

80's Trash Music

Have you seen that particularly hilarious form of graffiti where people put stickers or paint words on stop signs, making some statement of things that should "stop?" I've seen signs that say STOP wearing fur, STOP the war, STOP Bush, and STOP graffiti... (well, not that one, but the irony would be excellent.) Anyway, they're always good for a laugh... unless you work for the transportation department, where they've taken to slapping their own stickers that say "defacing stop signs." Well, yesterday Margaret and I saw one that was AWESOME! It was a stop sign with a sticker on it that said "collaborate and listen." I instantly recognized the opening words of Vanilla Ice's magnum opus "Ice, Ice, baby." Then, and maybe this next part happened because I had just channeled the 80's from watching the Transformers movie, (that's my only defense) I completely mortified Margaret by finishing the rest of the opening of the song: "Stop, collaborate and listen. The Ice is back with a brand new edition. If you got a problem, yo, I'll solve it. Check out the beat while the DJ revolves it." For a moment, Margaret was completely dumbfounded. What had she gotten herself into? Who knew that after a decade of marriage that that was lurking inside her husband? Actually, I couldn't believe that I'd remembered it myself. I guess that song meant more to me than I thought. Although, if you think about it, it does carry an important lesson that I've carried throughout my life since hearing it that first time: always put ice in your Diet Coke!

Speaking of that song which now cannot be named, I remember one time when my parents bought a used car. It was completely digital on the inside, with red lights on EVERYTHING! It was like driving an American version of the Starship Enterprise. Well, the first night, I borrowed the car and drove it in to town and picked up some friends to cruise around town with. I remember I had a cassette single of... the song which now cannot be named.... and we played it loud and over and over and OVER again, thinking we were the COOLEST! Well, it turned out that we weren't the coolest. We found out the hard way why the previous owner sold the car: it died in town and wouldn't start and when it finally did, it make some awful noise. Talk about destroyed street cred. I guess what should I have expected for an AMERICAN version of the Starship Enterprise. (That's why we bought our GERMAN version of the Starship Enterprise: our Jetta.... we call him Hansel.) Now, after all these years, I wonder if the car was just punishing us for listening to that insipid song over and over again. Fortunately Hansel didn't punish us after I broke out in song last night or we would have had to walk home. Good ole Hansel... he never judges us.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A picture is worth a thousand words



(Click on the picture to enlarge it, because you'll need it bigger to see how much gas the rest of the world uses in comparison to us.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Don't you hate it when...

Don't you hate it when you're showing your boss your new iPhone and he's looking at all the features and then stumbles upon a racy electronic note your wife left in the Notes application.... uh, not that that happened to me or anything.... no sireee.

Monday, July 09, 2007

iPhone

I almost forgot to include my review of the iPhone, now that I finally laid my hands on one. Here's my simple, one sentence review of this miracle:

"The iPhone is the official telephone of the Celestial Kingdom."

And I don't throw that around lightly. Yeah, don't bring up my review of the Swatch as the official timepiece of the Celestial Kingdom. That was just a crazy teenager not knowing what he was talking about. This time, it's for real. I mean seriously. When you're holding it, it feels like you're holding the future!

Indispensible uses for the earth's precious resources

Every now and then, I see a product (and almost 100% of the time it's plastic) that makes me think, "Gee, the earth is SOOO much better off with that product that will eventually go into a landfill instead of the boring raw materials and clean environment that were used up in the product's creation." You know, things like PEZ dispensers, automatically twirling lollipops, and Paris Hilton CDs. Well, this weekend, I saw something to add to the list: The Spiderman 'Water Web' Water Slide. It's like a slip-n-slide, only with a giant inflatable Spiderman hand that doesn't shoot web, it shoots... wait for it.... WATER! Oh brother! Why couldn't they choose a more cultural and educational subject to use for kid's water playthings... I'm thinking the peeing boy statue in Brussels would translate to this purpose particularly well.

Speaking of slip-n-slides... maybe I'm just bitter because the two main memories I have of our slip-n-slide were both traumatic The first one was how bees would be attracted to the water on hot days, where they would drown and leave their corpses to sting us when we stepped on them. The second was the propensity of our geese to poop all over the slide. Believe me... even though both lubricants work well, I'll take plain tap water ANY day.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fourth of July

We came back from our Utah vacation completely sucked of all energy and seriously sleep deprived. Here's a synopsis of our 6-day visit. Fly in to Salt Lake, visit Margaret's dad, drive to Logan, visit with my family there for a day and a half, drive to Salt Lake for a family dinner, drive to Heber and spend the night there at Margaret's sister's house, wake up and go boating, drive to Pleasant Grove for a wedding reception, spend the night at Margaret's brother's house, wake up and drive to Salina where Margaret's sister and her husband have a farm, spend the night there, wake up and go horseback riding, drive to Salt Lake after lunch, meet Margaret's dad for dinner, spend the night at Margaret's mother's house, wake up and go to Red Butte Gardens in Salt Lake, visit Salt Lake library, head to the airport to fly back to Oregon. Phew! I'm exhausted just TYPING that! Fortunately we came back on the July 3, so we had a day to recover on the fourth.

Speaking of which, I tried to buy an iPhone yesterday while we were out and about but there are no more 8GB models in the entire state! Cruel fates... why must you mock me? And mock me they did. It would have been so bad, but when we went into the Apple Store to get one, they had demo phones to try out. Man oh man... after actually being able to USE one, I'm even more smitten. Now the wait is even that much more unbearable, since I know what I'm missing.

After that disappointment, Margaret consoled me by going to Transformers with me. Our friend Stacey came, too. I thoroughly enjoyed it, laughing at all the 12-year-old targeted humor and felt like I was a little kid watching the same thing on Saturday morning cartoons, only now with cussing and more violence. It was AWESOME! Sadly Margaret and Stacey were more amused with my reaction to the movie than the movie itself.

After the movie, we came back to our house for a barbeque. We got all the fixings for s'mores but when the time came to roast them, I found that we didn't have a source of willow trees to denude like we did in scouts. I hunted around the house for a bit, trying to think of how to roast them with utensils, hangers, or soldering wire. Then it struck me! The most perfect solution... a solution both elegant and lazy. And I'm talking really lazy. How, you ask? This solution, which I've dubbed the Toasterator© (and as you can see, I've trademarked it so if you try it at home, you owe me a 3¢ royalty), consists of the rotisserie attachment to our grill. Instead of holding a whole chicken, suckling pig, or ostrich roast, the prongs hold MARSHMALLOWS! The rotisserie slowly rotates them, with absolutely no effort on my part. A side benefit was that the heat also partially melted the chocolate set on the graham crackers we'd set on the grill. I'll never roast marshmallows without the assistance of electricity again!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Presidential differences


Russian President Putin is in the country visiting President Bush this week. They went fishing and I don't know about you, but when I saw the picture above in the paper, I thought that Bush looks like a redneck schlub and Putin looks like the new James Bond. Has it really gotten to the point that Russian governmental officials dress better and look cooler than American governmental officials? What's next? Japan making better cars than the Americans? Nah... that's going too far! That'd NEVER happen.