Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I'm running out of hair to pull out!

You know that event I'm responsible for in the fall that I kept complaining about? The one where I try to organize an entire tepee village and a dozen concurrent presentations in all of them? And all the logisitics involved in running the village? And usually only three or four months to plan for and prepare? Well, I just found out yesterday that I'm supposed to plan and put on another one... on MARCH 10TH!!!!!!! So if you notice more sporadic entries to this blog, you'll know why. It's because I'm at the doctor's getting more ulcer medication.

Monday, January 29, 2007

We Wang Chunged!

Aiieeee! I've become my parents! They think that music from their era (like Elvis, Sandra Dee, and Beethoven) is the be-all-end-all of music genres. Because it was the music of their youth, I guess it reminds them of going to all those sock-hops and malt shoppes when they were teeny boppers and greasers. Well over the weekend we went to an 80's dance and I realized as we were dancing to all the songs of my church youth dance days that I'd fallen into the same nostalgia trap. Not that that is a bad thing, mind you.

When a friend told us about it, we saw it as... what else... an excuse to dress up! Margaret got together her best mall crawler outfit on, complete with mini skirt and leggings and THREE Swatches! (Actually, I'm embarrassed to say that all three of the Swatches she was wearing, along with the one I was wearing were MINE from the 80's!) I had on my best Andrew McCarthy from Pretty in Pink outfit o--complete with three layers of pastel shirts under a sports jacket and acid wash jeans. The only difference between then and now was that I had about 50% less hair than the last time I'd worn anything like that. The dance itself was a lot of fun, too. They showed the lame 80's artsy videos along with all the music and we were transported back in time to a simpler age when I was just worried about acne, how to come up with some money to buy the new Duran Duran cassette, and contemplating the long-term effets of Reagan's trickle down economics policies on future national solvency. Of course the first time we'd danced to those songs, we didn't have to hobble home and take a handful of Advil for aching knees and ankles... uh, not that that happened this time, too... I was just imagining that SOME of the people did that... not us... no siree... we're not getting older.... not at all.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Axis of Evil

I had a run-in with the Axis of Evil yesterday that still has me aggravated. No, I'm not talking about North Korea, etc. I'm talking about ATM fees, the DMV, and the Department of Homeland Security. Three things that strike fear and terror in more American's lives than some totalitarian government on the other side of the planet ever did. Here's what happened:

My driver's license will expire on my birthday, which is coming up (it's February 10, in case anyone want to get me something). There's a DMV office in the mall near my work, so I went over there on my lunch break. When I got there, there were signs everywhere saying that they only accept cash and checks! Hello! This is the twenty-first frickin' CENTURY, folks. They had an ATM machine right in their lobby to get cash, but since I wasn't about to pay $4 for a withdrawal, I walked to a nearby bank that doesn't charge fees. I finally make it back to the DMV and wait and wait and WAIT! Finally, after more than 20 minutes, I got to see a clerk, who took all my information and then, after she was done... THEN she told me that the computer connection to Homeland Security was down and that I wouldn't be able to actually GET my license right then. I could wait, but there was no guarantee it would be back up at all that day. It's a good thing they tell you stuff like that AFTER you've traipsed around the area, stood in line with the unwashed masses, enduring all their questions, and STILL don't get what you came for! That's probably how heaven is going to be! Here I am, doing everything almost everything pretty much everything some of the stuff I'm supposed to be doing, and when I get to the pearly gates, the attendant will say, "Well, that was all well and good, but unless you were a snake handler, you can't come in." Noooooooooo.

Speaking of religion, while I was typing this, I got a call on my cell from AN ANGEL! I answered and a woman asked me how my day was going and then proceeded to tell me that it was a beautiful day shining with the light of Christ... and then wished me a good day. Didn't that angel know she was calling my CELL PHONE! I had to pay a minute of airtime for that message... and she didn't even tell me anything I NEEDED to know--like next week's lottery numbers or at the least tell me how Kitty is doing (I'm figuring she's getting in trouble clawing all the white funiture up there). Anyway, I'll show that angel; I'm going to deduct that phone charge from this month's tithing.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Well, despite my gut feeling that we were going to win the lottery last night, it didn't pan out. It must have been the chili I had for dinner. Man, I don't know what I'm going to do. Now I'm going to have to try and cancel my order for that personalized Boeing 747 I ordered off their website. They're NOT going to be happy... especially since I upgraded to the 70's Psychodelic package and if they've already applied the tie-dye paint I'm committed to purchase. If so, can I borrow a couple ten million for anyone out there?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


This picture is being posted in public bathrooms around Canada. Hopefully it will encourage more people to wash their hands after going to the bathroom because nothing creeps me out as much as people not washing their hands. You can learn more about the organization's website I'm so OCD about it that even if I step foot in a bathroom to just look in the mirror or something, I have to wash my hands. One time at work, I someone in one of the stalls reading some paperwork that they had LAID OUT TO READ ON THE STALL FLOOR!!! Now I always ask for people to just send my materials electronically. Pretty soon I'll have that bubble with an airlock installed in my office and I can work safe. Now be sure and always wash your hands and carry around your Purell EVERYWHERE!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Ever since I heard gales of laughter and excitement pouring through the telephone line from my brother telling me how cool Nintendo's new Wii was, I've wanted to get one for our house. Well, being that it's impossible to find has made it that much more of a challenge to get it before our birthdays in February. I thought my fruitless search was nearing a conclusion when my brother called and told me that they were available at Costco! Score! And for cheaper than anyone else! Double score! Of course I hadnt factored in the fact that they were readily available at their more rural Costco. When I called all the Portland ones, they said that they sold out of them the morning they arrived. When one of the stores noted that another shipment was en route and should be on the shelves on Tuesday, my hopes were renewed. All last night, I kept having dreams of being at Costco right as they opened and then fighting with other customers to get one, getting there only as the last one was being put into a cart by and old lady, or (the worst of the three) getting a brown paper bag with a Wii supposedly in it along with some gift items, only to search through it and, after rummaging through the coloring books, crayons, and colored pencils that were also in the bag, to find the heavy item at the bottom of the bag wasn't a Wii but a DAFFY LUCK LAZER TAG GAME! Oh the humanity. Of course first thing this morning I called to confirm the shipment and was told that it was delayed and to call back tomorrow! Ugg, looks like another night of crazy, disappointing dreams for me!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Another missed snow day!

Awww. Yesterday morning, just when I thought I could roll over in my nice electrically warmed bed for another hour or so, I found out that despite our office being closed, our group travelling to central Oregon was still leaving, so for the second time in two days, I had to drag myself literally through the snow to get to work. At least my office has a policy that in situations like this, if you do come to work on a snow day, you can take those hours at a later date. Which turns out a bit better, since I'll get to choose when I can flake off work.

Speaking of flaking off work, Portland schools have a national reputation of short school years and cut funding. Well, I read in the paper this morning that due to the winter break, MLK holiday, and now these past two snow days, Portland students have attended school 8 of the past 31 days! Now THAT'S what I call a schedule! (It kinda reminds me of my final semester at BYU, where I stacked all my classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, giving myself four day weekends the entire semester. Ahh, those were the days... and Margaret hated it, because I was always pressuring her to go on road trips or whatever, but since she was swamped with classes [she was on the 3 year graduation path, whereas I was on the 6 year]. Oh well, it all worked out and we still ended up getting married, despite her seeing me in that semester of slackerhood.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I woke up this morning to the start of a snowstorm, only to get worse and worse. When I called in to work, there was an annoucement that there would be a noon opening. Elation soon turned to aggravation when I found out that the group planning on going to do a presentation in central Oregon was still going! I was even more aggravated when I found out, while waiting for the bus nonetheless, that the storm had gotten so bad that the office wouldn't even be opening at all today! My bus ride is normally 20 minutes, but it took me two hours to get to the office. My aggravation reached Zeus-like proportions when I found out a couple of minutes after I got to the office that our trip had been cancelled! And now it's rescheduled for tomorrow, so I'll be in a holding pattern until then.

I'm hoping for a major ice storm. I really don't feel like going anywhere in this weather. Oh, well. At least I'll be able to enjoy the rest of the day warm and cozy at home (that is unless the buses get stuck and I end up walking trudging home, at which point, words would not be able to express my level of aggravation. Did you notice how many times I used the word "aggravation" in this post? Yes, you got me... I'm aggravated!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dying for a Nintendo Wii

Ever since I saw demos of Nintendo's new Wii, I've totally coveted them. I've been on the lookout for one at local stores as well as online... you know, for a joint birthday present for Margaret and myself (since we're both Aquarians). I'd be willing to buy it, but if I could win it, it would be even better, however there ARE limits. Check out this article from the internets:

Woman Dies After Water Drinking Contest
SACRAMENTO A 28-year-old woman died of water intoxication after taking part in a radio station's water drinking contest to win a Nintendo Wii video game system, the coroner's office said.

Jennifer Strange's mother found her daughter's body at her home Friday in the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova, California, after Strange called her supervisor at her job to say she was heading home in terrible pain.

"She said to one of our supervisors that she was on her way home and her head was hurting her real bad," said Laura Rios, one of Strange's coworkers at Radiological Associates of Sacramento. "She was crying and that was the last that anyone had heard from her."

Earlier Friday, Strange took part in a contest at radio station KDND 107.9 in which participants competed to see how much water they could drink without going to the bathroom.

Lightweight! Try drinking 96 oz. of Diet Pepsi in one sitting. She must not have trained properly!

Initially, contestants were handed eight-ounce bottles of water to drink every 15 minutes.

"They were small little half-pint bottles, so we thought it was going to be easy," said fellow contestant James Year of Woodland, California. "They told us if you don't feel like you can do this, don't put your health at risk."

Ybarra said he quit after drinking five bottles. "My bladder couldn't handle it anymore," he added.

Geesh! That's just over a 32 oz. pop! The size of a McDonald's MEDIUM drink. Oh the shame and humiliation of a thimble-sized bladder.

After he quit, he said, the remaining contestants, including Strange, were given even bigger bottles to drink.

"I was talking to her and she was a nice lady," Ybarra said. "She was telling me about her family and her three kids and how she was doing it for kids."

Talk about eternal guilt for those children. "My mom DIED trying to get us a Wii!"

The winner of the "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest was promised a Nintendo Wii video game system.

What a perfect name for the contest... although it conjures up different images... plus I'm sure that the length of time that some guys could hold on to their wee would exceed the attention span of the audience... and couldn't be televised.

John Geary, vice president and marketing manager for Entercom Sacramento, the station's owner, said station personnel were stunned when they heard of Strange's death.

"We are awaiting information that will help explain how this tragic event occurred," he said.

Which is station owner-speak for "That's what we say when we're trying to cover our asses."

I think I'll just keep looking to find a Wii from a store.

Friday, January 12, 2007

High on the hog

You know that disgust you feel when you're going through a random pile of stuff and find an olf gift card that is probably expired and you just wasted a present from someone? Well, I had that feeling last weekend when we found an restaurant gift card that someone had given us back in 2004. It said that it was good for two years, but that only brought it to July 2006. I called them and they said that I could use it, but if I made reservations right then. Well, since the gift card was for $100, I thought Margaret and I were going to completely pig out. Little did we know that it was probably one of the most expensive restaurants in town. We took one look at the menu and realized that the $100 wasn't going to go very far. A 24 oz. New York steak cost $85--and that didn't include a salad or anything on the side... just the meat! A baked potato cost $8, as did a house salad. We were looking at the wine menu and some of the bottles were $800 each! They did try to class it up to make you feel like you were getting your money's worth by preparing stuff at the table for you. I couldn't believe the swarm of FIVE servers preparing the potatoes of the people sitting next to us. They carefully sliced open the potato, got the butter and cream layered just so, and topped it off with a sprinkling of pepper. Oh! THAT'S why they charge $8 for it... it's all in the labor.

Margaret ordered a baseball cut steak and lobster medallions, having no idea what a baseball cut steak was. I ordered a flaming lamb sword. When our dinners came, we instantly realized why they call it a baseball cut--the steak was as thick as it was round. I don't think she was even able to eat a third of it. My flaming lamb sword was just that--they brought out a skewer with the lamb on it and poured some inflammable liquid over it to make it burn bright blue... INCHES from my face. It WAS impressive. Both of us were so full after eating less than half of all that meat that we ended up getting doggie bags. After cleaning our plates and giving us our dessert menus, they set out some fruit, nuts, a nutcracker, a big slice of roquefort cheese, crackers, and dates... you know, just to tide us over until we got our dessert. Man! How much food do the rich need to eat?!? Evidently more than we do.

All in all it was an interesting, decadent experience. Made doubly surreal by the fact that I had a $1.58 lunch at Taco Bell earlier in the day.

The experience reminded me of a story my aunt told me about talking with someone in her ward whose daughter was serving a mission in Los Angeles. She was serving in the Beverly Hills area and there, instead of inviting the missionaries over to dinner, they would just get taken out to eat by the members. Being that it was Beverly Hills, the daughter got taken to quite fancy restaurants, where she would regularly have meals costing upwards of $100. My cousin, listening in on the conversation, remarked, "$100! She must be a real PIG!" In Idaho, the only way to have a $100 meal is to offer to pay for your whole extended family and all your neighbors when you go down to the annual VFW pancake feed.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Unearned money

After rushing downstairs to check for last night's winning numbers, I was disappointed to find out I only picked a SINGLE correct number. Since the jackpot was at $131 million, I had bought a ticket, since I never buy when the jackpot is less than 9 digits long. Man! I had that jackpot half spent already, too.

Speaking of unearned gains, gather round while I tell you about something that happened over Christmas.

How many times have you had to return something at a store and since you lost the receipt when you washed your pants or stuck your gum into it or, on the rare occassion, was forced to do the unthinkable when you discover that the public toilet you're in has run out of toilet paper... and you REALLY wished you would have bought more stuff to generate a longer receipt! Anyway, I digress. Well, you know how most stores' policy states that if you don't have a receipt you only can get back the lowest amount they've sold it for. You paid full price but went on clearance today for 90% off... you only get back 10% of your purchase. I'm sure you've all fallen victim to this scam at one time or another. Well, for Christmas, I got Margaret a sweater online from a major clothing store. (I'm not putting their name on this post in case they google their own name and find out about this and seek me out. For a clue, profits for the RED sweater are earmarked for AIDS in Africa.) When I bought the sweater, I was hesitant because it cost $265. I finally talked myself into getting it for Margaret, but before I checked out of the online store, I googled "[name of store] coupon." Lo and behold, there was not one but TWO applicable coupons I could use. One was free shipping if my purchase exceeded $50. No problem there. And the other was 25% if my purchase was over $100 and I used their store credit card. Cha-ching! That tipped the scales and I made the plunge, getting the sweater for $198 and not even having to pay shipping. I suffered some guilt over having screwed $67 dollars from AIDS relief efforts in Africa, but that was trumped by knowing I got a good deal. On Christmas, when Margaret opened it, she loved it, but soon discovered that the cashmere was so thick that it overheated her even in UTAH! Maybe that was the point... when you wore the sweater you would think of the sweltering heat in Africa, even if you were currently living in Greenland. If she got overheated in Utah, you can bet she'd get incinerated in Oregon, so she decided to take it back. We went to the physical store in Salt Lake and told them we'd like to return the sweater but we didn't have the receipt. The guy told us the spiel about lowest price, etc., etc. and we told him that if it was under $198 that we'd wait and bring it back in Oregon where the receipt was. He called and told us that the lowest price was $265 and that's how much he'd refund. I repeated that I'd only paid $198 for it and he just said, most of the times the policy works in our favor, but sometimes it doesn't. He proceeded to process the refund, even trying to give us back Utah sales tax, which would have been another $17. I asked him to not refund that... that was going too far. So now, rather than screwing AIDS relief out of $67, I screwed them out of $134! Is that bad?

Of course the refund came in the form of store cradit, so we're going to have to find $265 worth of merchadise there. And there's only so many t-shirts you can buy before you say "enough."

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Day two

So.... very.... cold. Can't.... get.... warm.

Stopses looking at us!

HELP! Get the spiders off me! They're frickin' EVERYWHERE.

So... hot. We can't breathe. Only thing that could cool us down would be 96oz. of ice-cold precious.

Shut up Gollum, we're trying to sever our ties with the precious, er I mean Diet Pepsi.

Noooooo. The precious.

Uhh, hey everyone. Day two of giving up Diet Pepsi completely is going great!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Turning over a new cola bean leaf

Even if I somehow was deprived of seeing a calendar, I would still be able to tell it was January by the vast increase in people at the gym. Between new year's resolutions and gaining 25 lbs. after drinking too much eggnog and eating too many caramels, people are flocking to run, bike, or stair climb away those extra pounds. They must do it really quickly, too, because the surge in numbers only lasts until the middle of February. After that, it's back to normal and I can go back to being able to find a treadmill to run on without waiting in a frickin' line.

Speaking of new year's resolutions, an incident while we were in Utah prompted one of mine. No, no, I've not set my sights on becoming a bishop (although my ward IS pretty desperate... I could probably breeze in there with a Diet Coke in one hand and a copy of "Under the Banner of Heaven" in the other hand and STILL get the job). No, the incident that prompted this resolution unfolded like this: We were visiting Margaret's sister and the only caffeine they had in the house was Dr. Pepper and Lime Diet Coke. Since I'd prefer not to drink the sugared pop (since I'd have to consume 1200 calories worth to get the caffeine I needed), and I couldn't drink the Lime Diet Coke because the lime artificial flavor gives me a headache, I just had to tough it out. I made it through most of the day, but on the drive to Margaret's brother's house, I was going though SERIOUS withdrawals. Spinning headache, spiders climbing the walls, the mountains looked like they were melting... you get the picture. When we finally arrived, I stumbled into the house and gasped out, "do you have any caffeine?" Fortunately my reputation preceded me, and they had gotten some in anticipation of the visit. Two minutes and three cans of Diet Pepsi later, I felt like a heroin addict getting his fix. At that moment, I decided to cut back on the caffeine. Not because I think it's killing me (which it probably is) but because I can't stand getting in that situation where my time is ruined because I didn't get my drug of choice. It's now been 9 days of slowly tapering off... I didn't dare go cold turkey for fear of going on a homicidal rampage or signing up for the NRA or something. For the past few days I've only had one can of pop per day. I think today's the day that I'll try not drinking ANY caffeine. If I can give it up for a week, I'll consider it beat and go back to drinking it MODERATELY. No more 128 oz. days for me. No siree! No seriously... just because I've done this before only to be tempted back by the beckoning hiss of carbonation bubbles bursting forth from the surface of the sweet, sweet caramel-colored... keep focused... stay on target....

Wish me luck. I'll need it.

Monday, January 08, 2007


For Christmas, my parents gave Margaret and me a heated matress pad. Oh my gosh, I had no idea we would love such a simple thing. A month or so ago, I got Margaret an electric blanket, so we'd already been introduced to the wonders of electric warmth (in fact we took that blanket to that hot springs resort, where it was much appreciated in the cold cabin). Anyway, when we opened our present, we were both looking forward to using it that very night. Of course, that evening was the night that the power went out from the wind storm that hit the Northwest, so we were denied (in fact we had to pack our luggage by FLASHLIGHT!). When we got back from Utah, we plugged it in and quickly learned that the "5" setting is fine to warm up the bed before you get into it, but the "3" setting is the maximum you want to sleep with. I woke up the first night sweating so much I was surprised that I hadn't shorted out the pad. Now we're in a happy medium and sleeping quite well... thanks to the wonders of electricity!

Fortunately we also learned a lesson from my parents' experience. When they first got theirs, my mom got cold so she turned up her control and my dad got warm so he turned his control down. Still cold, my mom turned up her control even more, and getting warmer, my dad turned his control down even more. When they woke up, they were both complaining about it before they realized that they had switched their controls.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Last night, we went to a free preview screening of the new movie "Children of Men." I've been looking forward to seeing it since I first saw the previews. The movie takes place in 2027, at a time when not a single child has been born on earth for over 18 years. As you could imagine, the whole world is in chaos... why worry about the future when you can see it ending? Anyway, there is a girl who is pregnant and the premise of the movie is that they need to get her past all the chaos and government crack-downs to escape. I just have to say that that was one of the most traumatizing movies I've seen in a while. Margaret had to leave the theatre for a while, and another friend who went with us cried through the last quarter of the movie and then couldn't decide whether she wanted a stiff drink or to rush home to their baby. The baby won out and so we picked him up on the way back to our friends' house and we all destressed by enjoying some baby time.

If anyone out there is a parent of a baby younger than 7, pregnant, or thinking of getting pregnant, this movie is NOT right for you!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Jumping to conclusions

For New Year's Eve, Margaret and I went up to the new house of our old neighbors Twink and Graeme... in the SUBURBS! It always makes us nervous to venture out of the comfortable confines of the city... all those SUVs, curvy streets, and palpable angst gives us the creeps. I'm sure our old neighbors wouldn't have made the plunge into that seedy underworld if they hadn't found the killer house they got. Anyway, during the evening, the topic of conversation turned to seeing each other through our windows when we were next door neighbors. "Now that we don't live next door, I can ask you if you ever saw anything..." we were asked. We hadn't seen much... mainly the backs of their heads when they were standing in front of the bathroom mirror or eating at the kitchen table. We asked the same question of them, and they hadn't seen anything, either. Phew!

Although that reminded Twink of one time she had heard about a string of burglaries in the neighborhood where people were climbing in through open windows. Since it was summer, we were sleeping with our windows wide open and so she came over to warn Margaret about that. She started the conversation with, "You know, you really shouldn't sleep with your windows wide open." Before she could finish why we shouldn't be doing that, Margaret interjected, "Oh, I'm sorry. That bed is REALLY squeaky." Oops. How embarrassing that the neighbors knew that we... uh... um... oh, jump on the bed a lot... yeah, that's it. What I thought was funnier was that Margaret had recounted that story to my grandmother, too!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Mile-high shopping

Over the course of our two-week sojourn in Utah, we accumulated so many books that we ended up shipping an entire box of them home. Between the gifts of books and our annual stopover at the BYU Bookstore to buy discount books, we packed probably 30 books into that box (and lost all the savings for buying discount by having to ship the lead-weight-like box to Oregon.) Well, when we were boarding our flight, I noticed that I'd put ALL my books in the box and had nothing to read. (I would have noticed it earlier, but Margaret and I were busy watching the last half of "High School Musical" and were so thoroughly engrossed in that that thinking about books was the last thing on my mind... that's how tv works!). Anyway, during the boring and undercaffeinated flight (I asked for a can of Diet Coke and all they gave me was one of those chintzy plastic cups full... and that was mainly ICE!) I was jonesing for reading material. I skimmed the in-flight magazine, but didn't find anything compelling. Well, except for this little tidbit of wisdom: "You know you're a youth when you beg to stay up til midnight on New Year's Eve. You know you're middle-aged when you have to stay up til midnight on New Year's Eve." I read that to Margaret and she cringed, as she was hoping to go to bed early, having been sucked of all her energy over the course of our Utah travels.

Anyway, after getting through the magazine, I of course picked up the SkyMall--that source of endess entertainment at the sheer volume of crap and questionable items that can be accumulated in one place. I could write about a lot of the items, but one in particular caught my attention. The Wrinkle Terminator+Satin Lift system. The story goes that researchers working under unbearable pressure from the Baby Boomer generation have isolated the gene that causes wrinkles! (Still no word on cancer.) Once this "S Complex Gene" was isolated, Japanese scientists developed a little doodad that uses NASA technology to generate a "copy sound wave." The catalog describes it as the discovery "that led to the development of a means to control wrinkles simply and electronically." Geesh. The picture shows a woman holding a little pen to her face--evidently reactivating her "S Complex Gene" (and she appears to be having a good time of it, as well.) Unfortunately, after scouring the SkyMall for the rest of the flight, I couldn't find the gizmo that uses "copy sound wave" technology to reactivate the hair follicle genes on the top of my head. When are the Japanese going to work on THAT?!? I guess if people are willing to buy a "Billy Bass singing fish," they're willing to fork over a hundred bucks for a... vibrating pen thingy.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Back to life-giving manna an internet connection. After two weeks away, then coming home to a weird brown stain coming from the ceiling in our house, I'm ready for a vacation! Too bad my work didn't take the day of mourning like the rest of the government.