Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Thoughts And Reflections…Kind Of

Today is Halloween and it makes me reflect on all of the Halloweens that have passed and the current ghoulish state of things. A lot has changed since the Halloweens I celebrated as a kid. Change is inevitable, but wouldn’t it be nice if something changed and it actually ended up being better than the way it used to be. OK, maybe patients who had gastric bypass surgery are the exception to this and I’m sure there are a lot of husbands of wives who’ve had breast augmentations that will argue with me, but that’s not really what I’m trying to get at.

Boy the dress up part of the holiday sure has changed. I was at a Halloween pumpkin carving night at Lucy and Ethel’s school Friday night and even though it was preschool, no one was wearing a costume that really stood out or could even be considered scary or on the edge. Again, it was preschool, but let’s ignore that part for the sake of my story. Sure, I saw a Darth Vader or two, but even those gave the impression of the watered down just about to betray the Emperor-tell Luke how much he loves him-take off my helmet so I can see you with my real eyes-type of Darth Vader. I may have seen a Batman, but I’ll just say that if I were the Joker I wouldn’t be too worried when I saw the Bat Light appear overhead.

When I was in elementary school, I showed up wearing my rubber Frankenstein mask and I got to leave it on all day. When my name was called during roll call, I said my muffled ‘here’ through my mask and no one asked any questions. We could go through the entire school day and never see our friends’ faces. That doesn’t happen today and if it did, there’s no telling who would be hiding behind that mask. In high school, I can remember my friends showing up dressed as pimps and they weren’t even asked to go home and change until after lunch. That’s like half a day. They wouldn’t be allowed on campus today!

The whole trick-or-treat racket has really changed too. Our neighborhood used to be the one where people drove to so that their kids could get the good candy and go door-to-door in complete safety. Nowadays they drive to other areas of town. My wife is hoping I won’t stand out in the driveway as I did last year waving my green glow-stick yelling ‘what’s wrong with our street? I’ve got Almond Joys this year! Come by and I’ll give you two of them!” Apparently, that type of action gets you labeled as “the crazy guy that lives in the house at the end of the street.’ Do we take the twins trick-or-treating in our neighborhood you ask? Of course not! Are your crazy? Unlike everyone else, we have a good excuse though. The in-laws live on the new side of town, so we have a legitimate reason to engage in ‘trick-or-treat traveling.’

Speaking of Almond Joys, have you noticed the class system of give outs on Halloween now? The folks that try to be good and hand out pencils, stickers and erasers are looked down upon and are usually the first ones retaliated against by kids who want nothing but chocolate goodness. The folks that give out M & Ms and Hershey bars are seen as middle of the road and middle class while those that give out Mounds, Almond Joys and the harder to get Charleston Chews and stuff like that are the most popular houses. In fact, word gets around pretty quickly when there’s a house on the block giving out the good stuff. It sure beats Charlie Brown getting a rock!

Even our office is watered down for Halloween this year. It’s a Disney theme, which of course helps ensure that everyone will be dressed nice and respectable. That conjures up lots of Snow Whites, Sleeping Beauties, Mickey Mouses and hopefully a Mary Poppins or two. Although…you know, Splash was technically a Disney movie, wasn’t it. I doubt I’ll get to see someone dressed as Darryl Hannah’s mermaid though. Don’t you? Oh well, Happy Halloween and have fun cleaning up all the smashed pumpkins in the middle of your yard or street tomorrow morning. I’ll be spending my evening (until at least 4AM) in the most sincere pumpkin patch I can find waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive. As Linus says, it won’t be long now…

Monday, October 30, 2006

Boy, Radio Listeners Are Gullible

On this day in 1938, the original episode of ‘Punked’ aired on CBS Radio’s ‘Mercury Theater on the Air.’ Well, it was something like that. Orson Welles’ aired his production of H.G. Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds.’ (Boy that’s great alliteration, isn’t it? Welle’s version of Wells’ War of the Worlds) Despite the introduction by Welles saying that it was a radio adaptation, most people tuned in late and actually thought the Martian invasion was real. The only difference between what Orson Welles did that day and current reality TV is that he adapted a story from a book and made it up so it sounded real while reality TV is real and looks so made up.

Oh, to have that type of gullibility amongst us today. Back in ’38, people all over the east coast panicked, took to the highways to flee the Martian landing area and there were even reports of suicides. None could ever be confirmed though. I guess the havoc it wreaked must have looked a lot like the movie ‘Mars Attacks.’ It would be so much harder to get that type of response to a radio or TV production like that today. With so many cable news outlets and the internet, the hoax would be uncovered pretty quickly. Besides, if it was a hoax attempted over the internet, thousands would flock immediately to Snopes.com for confirmation of the hoax and discover it wasn’t true. People are just no fun these days. We can no longer believe our politicians and we question everything. Now granted, that is probably a good policy to adapt towards most things these days, but wouldn’t a good old-fashioned radio hoax be a hoot. Of course, the creator of it would be sued to the fullest extent of the law if they caused traffic backups and mass hysteria, but that’s part of the fun!

There was an elementary teacher I had two years in a row who would play the Orson Welles radio show every Halloween. (I swear it wasn’t because I was held back. He changed the grades he was teaching - no really!) We thought it was the coolest thing. He would explain the hysteria it caused and then we’d listen to it with the classroom lights turned off while only sunlight shined through. Of course we were the ‘Star Wars’ generation and found the whole premise of the show hard to believe, but we still enjoyed it and humored our teacher. If he attempted to play that radio show today, someone would complain and he’d be put on administrative leave until further notice! Then it would get press attention and end up in the odd news section and I’d get to blog about it all over again. I guess that’s what they call the circle of life.

Maybe the most recent attempt at messing with American audiences that I can think of was the FOX broadcast a few years back of the alien autopsy. At least I think they meant that to be perceived as real. We should use blogsville to perpetrate our own worldwide hoax. It could be something like the internet only has room for a few thousand more blogs, genetic testing has proven that Fidel Castro and Osama Bin Laden are the same person, Monday has been replaced on the calendar by a new day called Funday or that this weekend’s recent time change was an accident and should actually take place in two more weeks, except in Mentone, California and Fort Fairfield, Maine where the clocks should move forward by eight hours. If done correctly and promoted the right way through the Wondernet, the fake story could spread as fast as news of the E-Coli spinach outbreak did. Although that story was very real, I think.

On second thought, maybe I won’t spread a fake story via the Wondernet. I just got off the phone with a relative in the mid-west and she said there are strange clouds appearing out of nowhere that are emitting electricity and toxic fumes and they’re heading west. If you need me, I’m relocating to the closest cave for a while. Hopefully it has a Wi-Fi connection!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Repost Sunday: Help, I'm Stuck To The Toilet Seat And Can't Get Up!

I rerun some of my older posts on Sundays as a way to highlight stories that you may have missed. Just think of it as 'thought recycling' and a day off. This was originally posted August 4, 2006.

Now tell me the truth, if you saw a headline about a woman suffering injuries after being stuck to a toilet, you’d read it. And so would I. It seems a woman in Council Bluffs, Iowa is now nursing burns she got when she found herself glued to a public toilet. The paramedics that responded (gosh I hope she’s not too bashful) had to use fingernail polish to free her from the toilet seat.

Officials believe that rubber cement was placed on the toilet seat as a prank. They are investigating the crime as both an assault and a vandalism. I’ll assume it’s vandalism of the toilet since there is also the assault charge. Local police officials fear more of what they are calling “sit and stick” crimes so they have hastily formed a new task force operation to combat that potential new problem.

In a complete invasion of privacy, Council Bluff’s city janitors have begun installing cameras in all public bathroom stalls. One city official was quoted as saying, “sure it’s constitutionally wrong, but if we catch these hooligans it’s well worth it. All residents and city visitors deserve to feel completely safe while sitting in a public facility with their pants around their ankles.”

Operation Anti Sticky Seat’s officers will be given the task of reviewing all restroom video. “It’s better than traffic duty,” said the head of the operation. “It’s a real challenge to head up A.S.S. since it’s vital we stop this from happening again,” said the official who begged to remain anonymous.

The victim is expected to make a complete recovery. She told local reporters that it was one of the most embarrassing moments of her life. If it was one of the most embarrassing moments, this lady should write a book. After all, if having to be rescued while being glued to a public toilet seat doesn’t top the list, this lady is one steely woman.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Things I Learned This Week: 10/28/06

Because I want to spare you from experiencing some of the things I endured over the last few days, I post “Things I Learned This Week” each Saturday. It’s educational, sometimes insightful and always pathetic. I hope that at least one item on this list will make your upcoming week much easier. As you'll be able to tell from this week's list, it was a hard week at work. So here are the “Things I Learned This Week” for the week of 10/22/06-10/28/06.

! I learned that offering your recently finished plaster dental mold to a coworker so that they can use it as a bookend can be seen as a disgusting, vile and all too personal gesture. It wasn’t me, but I witnessed the whole thing.

! I learned that I should not make squirmy motions when my female coworker is sharing details of her painful monthly lady goings on. At least I was listening to her, right?

! I learned that while I think every little thing that my Lucy and Ethel do is cute and anecdote-worthy, my coworkers may not always agree. The certain male coworker in question just didn’t have to tell me in front of everybody. I have forgiven him though. I also learned that my coworkers are getting tired of me saying, “I’ve got to blog about this.” They’ve started saying it now, but I think they’re mocking me.

! I learned that if you change the little picture attached to your work’s email signature every time you send a new message, it tends to give the impression you aren’t really working that hard and have time to goof around. And as well all know, that impression just leads to more work.

! I learned that when I need to go buy a new digital camera and am somewhat indecisive about it, Best Buy is not the place to go. They have about 30 different camera models, half of which have the same features with only slightly different names. By the way, what the heck is a restocking fee?

! I learned that when I your entire department is on a conference call and you want to point out to your coworker across the hall the ineptitude of the person speaking, you’d better ensure that your phone is muted.

And lastly…

! I learned (just now as a matter of fact) that when you give your 4-year olds chocolate donuts for breakfast, it’s not a good idea to walk away and start blogging. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go wipe down a ton of chocolate fingerprints all over the dining room before Mommy wakes up…

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Mysterious Plump/Pump Link Finally Revealed

According to the AP, researchers have determined that not only is America’s increasing weight problem making it harder to be x-rayed; it’s also causing us to get poorer gas mileage because we are getting heavier and that’s causing our cars to burn more gas when we drive them. If you ask me, it’s all those Sumo wrestlers we see out there on the highways and byways driving full size trucks on their way to Sumo matches! Wait, you mean I’m the only one who sees them? Uh-oh. The story also says that at today’s current prices, the extra fuel used adds up to $2.2 billion more spent annually. Aside from the fuel we waste according to this theory, that’s money we Americans could use on things other than gas like fast food and sugary soda.

Whether this data will be used to motivate Americans to lose more weight remains to be seen, especially with fuel prices continuing to drop. Maybe it will spur us to buy lighter vehicles, which I guess is like weight loss for cars. We should begin selling autos by people’s weight class so that a balance between passenger weight and vehicle weight can be achieved across the board, leading to better fuel use. For example, the highest weight class of driver would be required to buy vehicles made of aluminum foil and the lightest weight class of driver would have to buy lead-framed cars. Those that would be restricted to the aluminum class of vehicle may be a bit intimidated by driving such light cars, but heck, we sent astronauts to the moon in a lunar spacecraft that’s wall weren’t much thicker and they all survived. Granted, they wouldn’t have survived if something the size of a pebble had collided with their spacecraft, but that didn’t happen. It just supports the theory that you should always be aware of your surroundings when operating a moving vehicle of any kind.

On the other end of the scale (so to speak) would be the lighter folks in lead-based vehicles. A major portion of the lightest class of drivers would be teenagers, who generally are skinnier, smaller framed and have better metabolisms. Unfortunately, they are also much more prone to getting into accidents. For them, driving lead vehicles (again, I mean lead as in the heaviest of metals, not let me lead you into battle) would also be a form of protection. Of course, the damage they might do to everything else they’ll run into will suffer, but we’ll achieve equality among the all important driver weight to vehicle weight ratio and spend less money on gas. We can spend some of those savings on repairing all the things completely decimated by the reckless younger drivers in their lead laden tanks. To sum it all up, heavier folks in lighter cars and lighter folks in heavier cars equal less fuel consumption, I think. To be honest, I’ve rewritten this thing three times today and now have the mental capacity of a wet, waterlogged kitchen sponge.

It’s interesting that the report blames the extra gas being used on overweight Americans and not the increasing number of bigger SUVs on the road that get poor fuel mileage. If we don’t force heavier Americans into lighter vehicles and lighter Americans into heavier vehicles to even out our fuel consumption, it’ll be good news for all the SUV owners out there. They can continue driving Hummers and F350s and deflect their overly high gas consumption onto heavier Americans who don’t eat healthy or exercise. Awesome! I’ve always wanted a ridiculously large mammoth vehicle that gets about 4 miles per gallon.

When you get down to the bottom of all of this, I guess we needn’t worry about our fuel being unleaded anymore; it’s the food that needs to be.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Don’t Fence Me In…At Least Use Walls

Well, the U.S. is taking a stance and apparently, we mean business. President Bush has signed the bill (I don’t remember what happens next, so I’ll have to consult my old Schoolhouse Rock DVDs) to construct a 700-mile long fence between the U.S. and Mexico Border. The only two problems that come to mind are 1. It’s a fence and 2. It only covers about 1/3 of the border. I’m sure that whatever department of the Cabinet that happens to be in charge of the fence has already thought those details through, so I won’t bother.

We now join an elite group of governments who have built structures to protect their borders. China had the Great Wall to keep out Mongol invaders or something like that and Germany had the Berlin Wall to divide East and West. Did you notice anything about those two structures? Yep, they’re both walls. When you’re serious about closing off or protecting your borders, you apparently build walls, not fences. Fences are to separate neighbors or dogs or toddlers who have just learned to crawl or walk, not to stop folks from illegally leaving or entering a country. Heck, even Charlie Brown and Linus had a wall to stand in front of when discussing their deep intellectual thoughts. I can’t think of any famous structures with the name fence in their title. Can you?

Thousands of people go to see the Great Wall of China every year and I saw recently that the Chinese government is taking steps to make sure that the wall doesn’t erode. I got to meet Ronald Reagan several years after his presidency and one of the first objects I noticed in his bookcase was a chunk of the Berlin Wall. I can’t say that about any fence. We don’t have cubicle fences; we have cubicle walls. Heck, even Humpty Dumpty’s wall is in the Smithsonian. Ok, I made that up.

Now the question remains as to what type of fence we’re going to use. Wouldn’t it would be a blast to be a fly on the wall (although in the White House or any other government building, it’s probably a ‘bug,’ if you catch my drift) when they meet and decide what type of fence to use. Queue the dream sequence music…

Aide: “Well Mr. President, we could use a picket fence.”
Cabinet: “No, picket fences are for manicured lawns and gardens with daisies and pansies.”
Aide: “How about barbed wire?”
Cabinet: “No, that could inflict injury and there may be litigation issues with injury.”
Aide: “What if we went with a natural fence or border that would like nice with the surrounding desert, like an adobe fence?”
Cabinet: “Adobe would be neat, but Adobe may be offensive to some.”
Aide: “We could use that plastic orange mesh fencing that highway workers, construction companies and amphitheaters with overcrowded rock concerts use.”
Cabinet: “Isn’t plastic mesh bad for dolphins?”
Aide: “We could use that new fancy aluminum faux wood fencing.”
Cabinet: “If it’s new then it’s too expensive, any other ideas?”
Aide: “Well the cheapest and easiest type of fencing to use would be chain link, but all you have to do is lean against it or use wire cutters and it’s rendered completely ineffective.”
Cabinet: “Did you say the cheapest and fastest? Ok, our new 700 mile border protection will be chain link, meeting adjourned!”

Concerning the fence and illegal immigrants, our government hopes that if they build it, they won’t come. I’m hoping I can get my contractor’s license for fence building and my over inflated construction bid to the government as soon as possible! If those aerospace folks can charge $800 for a hammer, just imagine what 700 miles of chain link fence will cost. Plus, when working in the desert, I think you must be able to tack on some type of hazard pay.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Is There A Nomination Form For Sainthood?

I read recently that the Pope named several new saints. Embarrassingly, I was not familiar with any of them, but it got me thinking of whom and what should be eligible for sainthood. Growing up Catholic, I was always reminded of St. Christopher every time we left for a family vacation when my mother said we needed to pray to him for a safe trip. I was also told about St. Anthony, the patron Saint of lost or stolen things. Although I might be abusing this saint’s time when I pray to him daily to help me find my favorite black ink pen that I constantly misplace around my office.

I don’t know how the Pope, Vatican, Electoral College or whoever it is nominates and votes on new saints, but I think there are several that the selection committee has overlooked. There are people who have completely altered the way we live and to the best of my knowledge, none of them are saints. If anyone from the Vatican is reading this, I’ve got a few folks who should be considered for sainthood.

Without a doubt, the first person is Juan Valdez – the Patron Saint of Caffeine, which a coworker of mine pointed out when she sent me an email stating that there is a special place in heaven for Juan Valdez. Just think about it, although if you’ve yet to pour your first cup of coffee for the day, you probably can’t think at all. Saint Juan of Valdez is responsible for our societies being able to start up every day.

Next would be the inventor of the toilet, Thomas Crapper – Patron Saint of Bodily Relievement (I can’t believe my spell check doesn’t think relievement is a real word!). If there were ever someone we need to thank our maker for, it would be Saint Thomas of Crapper. Just imagine what life would be like without his toilet, well not his toilet, I mean his invention, the toilet. Equally important is Willis Haviland Carrier. You probably don’t know who he was, but he invented the modern air conditioner and should become the Patron Saint of Home and Vehicle Cooling. Again, life would be a lot more uncomfortable, not to mention smelly, without him. Without Carrier’s contribution, we’d all smell and smell like garlic – ALL THE TIME! Speaking of garlic, (this is the worst segue ever, by the way) how many meals did you cook in the microwave this week? That’s why my next nomination for sainthood is Percy Spencer, the man who invented it. He should become the Patron Saint of EntrĂ©e Reheating.

Then there are Ray Kroc, Dave Thomas and Colonel Harlan Sanders. We all need to be grateful for their contributions to fast food. All three (I call them the Culinary Triumvirate) need to be named the Co-Patron Saints of Speedy and Convenient Nourishment. I’m using the word nourishment very loosely, but it sounds so much better than fast food. Lastly, Frank Sinatra should be named the Patron Saint of all Things Hip, Cool and Swinging, Too.

While you’d probably agree that all of these individuals are worthy of sainthood, there may be some (if not all) at the Vatican that don’t agree. Maybe we could compromise and create a hall or shrine to induct them into. It would be a category for mere mortals deemed to be just shy of deserving sainthood. We could have a huge annual induction ceremony where we honor them for their contributions to mankind. Why don’t we call them the Saintys? The little gold statues would depict a traditional saint complete with halo. Maybe someone will even broadcast the ceremony.

So there you have it. As society evolves and we reflect upon those who have sacrificed for the better good, it is time to consider broadening the definition of Saint. I don’t know that the Vatican has a website, but if they do, I hope there is a downloadable nomination form for Saints on it. Now what was the name of the guy that invented blogging?

**Author’s note: since I am Catholic, the answer is yes, I am wracked with guilt after writing this sacrilegious post about would-be Saints and will be attending the next confession closest to me**

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Maybe They Should Just Name It ‘Find Me Elmo’

The official Christmas shopping season is not even upon us yet and there is already mounting concern (ok, it may not be mounting yet, but it sounds more dramatic that way) about the availability of the new Elmo TMX (Tickle Me Extreme). Not only does Elmo still laugh when tickled, he now rolls on the floor laughing and is much more animated in his reactions. In short, it sounds like Elmo comes awfully close to a seizure when tickled. I hope it comes with a warning to move all furniture away from Elmo before your turn him on!

Officially, TMX stands for Tickle Me Extreme, but I think the X means something different to the folks at Fisher-Price who make Elmo TMX. They can’t be found anywhere on store shelves and they have already been tabbed as the one toy every kid will want this Christmas. Well not every kid, I can’t imagine Elmo being too popular with the 8 and over crowd. My guess is that the X stands for 10, as in there were only 10 of these dolls made. That explains why we can’t find them anywhere. Who thought that finding a new Elmo doll would rival finding cheap gas this past summer? I’m guessing 7 of the 10 will end up on E-Bay, too.

As a preemptive measure, my wife and I are only allowing our twins (code named Lucy and Ethel) to watch DVD’s until Christmas has passed. That will allow us to shelter them from any Elmo commercials that may appear. I even floated the idea of keeping them out of preschool until after Christmas to avoid peer pressure, but the idea wasn’t too popular (with both my family and the girls’ school for some reason). The last thing I want is to be running around in a panic late on Christmas Eve with 300 bucks and a ’68 VW Bug that I’m willing to trade for an Elmo TMX doll. Especially since they’ll grow tired of it by the time the Christmas Turkey (or lobster, hamburgers or chicken fried steak) is served anyway.

I wouldn’t run out and sacrifice your life to find one though, because I hear there are a few more Elmos in the development pipeline. If all goes well, next summer should see the arrival of ‘Toot Toot Elmo,’ who comes equipped with a whoopee cushion on his underside. The kiddies will have a field day with that one, actually so will most adult males now that I think about it. Later next year will also bring us ‘Two Packs A Day Elmo’ that will lift a cigarette to its mouth and actually puff. Don’t worry; it will be the Clinton-ized version that does not inhale. There are rumors of ‘American Idol Elmo,’ which will sing the same sugar sweet song until its batteries run out or you’ve thrown it against the wall too many times. Lastly, by next Christmas there should be ‘Older Sibling Elmo’ who responds to every command by saying “I told you so!”

The Elmo that didn’t make it beyond the idea board was the one that may have been the most fun. Its name was “Fussy Cussy Elmo.” I’ll let you assume what he says and does when touched. Hint: it contains a few choice expletives.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bestest Blog of the Day: Woo Hoo!!

I really want to thank Mimi Lenox from Mimi Writes for writing such a wonderful and nice review (I'll be thanking Mimi for a very long time) and Bobby at The Bestest Blog of All-Time for posting it ;-)

If you're new here, welcome and please feel free to stay a while. You can even peruse the Archives if you feel inclined to do so. If you're not new here, then you've probably already seen what's in the Archives and it would be a complete waste of your time. You can read the stories below though. They're pretty new, especially the story directly under this one. I wrote it today so it's pretty fresh content. At any rate, thanks for stopping by and come again!

Gimmie A Ring Sometime

The Italian media reported late last week that the Pope’s papal ring (called the Fisherman’s Ring) slipped off his finger twice while working the crowd at the end of a public visit. Fortunately (and probably motivated by fears of the fires of hell), it was immediately returned to him each time.

This news comes as there are still rumors swirling around that the papal ring fell off a few weeks ago and was not immediately returned. If my well placed (and presumably intoxicated) sources are to be believed, Pope Benedict lost his ring and was without it for 13 days before the ring was finally returned with a letter of apology during confession in a church just outside of Baker, California.

The apology letter said that the ring fell off on a papal visit and was subsequently sold on E-bay. The winner of the Pope’s ring, who has asked to remain anonymous, and will henceforth be known as Mr. A. Nonymous Ringstealer, described in his letter several supernatural events that occurred while he was in possession of it. The events prompted him to return it during a trip to confession. Mr. Ringstealer said that at night the ring would glow and not stop until daylight. He also said that inanimate objects like fruit and hairbrushes would levitate and move on their own away from the papal ring. Mr. Ringstealer wrote of a day he became adventurous and wore the ring to Las Vegas. Every time he used the hand that the ring was on to pull the slot machine or play video poker, he would win. Ringstealer’s winnings were donated to the church where he confessed and returned the papal ring.

He said the scariest incident was when the ring spoke to him one night in a voice he could only describe as a cross between Darth Vader and Jerry Lewis. The voice woke him up and began threatening him with every evil imaginable if he did not return the ring. Ringstealer said the ring’s voice warned he would experience an IRS audit, severe dental work, purple nurples, incurable flatulence when in the presence of pretty women, infinite visits from his in-laws and satellite TV with only the Lifetime channel and Gallagher specials. He promptly returned the ring during confession the next morning.

“We can’t have this type of thing continuing to occur,” a Vatican official was quoted as saying. These papal rings aren’t like Cracker Jack box jewelry and it’s going to get expensive if we have to continually replace them. We may have to pass the increasing ring costs on to our consumers, uh, I mean fellow Catholics in the form of new church offerings if it continues,” the official added.

Understandably, the Vatican’s concern is growing each time a ‘ring incident’ happens. At the next conference of cardinals and other church officials, the decision will be made whether to have the ring resized or to just fatten the Pope up. Insiders say they are leaning towards fattening him up as it’s cheaper in the long run.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Respost Sunday: If You Like Elton John, You’ll Love William Shatner…No really!!

I rerun some of my older posts on Sundays as a way to highlight stories that you may have missed. Just think of it as 'thought recycling' and a day off. This was originally posted August 22, 2006. I was sending this to a friend yesterday and was reminded how cheesy it was and wanted to share it again. Enjoy the cheese!

A few weeks back, I posted a story about the worst music video I may have ever seen, although I still thought it was catchy. I didn’t think it was possible, but David “The Hoff” Hasselhoff has been topped. The depths of entertainment got even deeper while I was watching Comedy Central’s roast of William Shatner. They showed some of his musical clips and through the never ceasing wonder of the internet, which I shall henceforth term Wondernet, I can share it with you. It is William Shatner’s rendition of Elton John’s Rocket Man, and believe me, using the word rendition is being very polite.

The performance was done at a 1978 science fiction awards show hosted my Shatner. I hope to high heaven that this video was done tongue in cheek! Any credence it might have had as a legitimate muscial number was helped by the fact Bernie Taupin, the song’s writer, introduced the performance. When watching it I could almost swear I heard the audience beginning to laugh as they did not know what they were witnessing, but Shatner kept a straight face. He did laugh a little at the end suggesting it might have been done as a joke. If it wasn't meant for a laugh, Captain Kirk takes himself way too seriously.

TJ Hooker (or Kirk or Shatner, whatever you prefer) was known for his spoken word “interpretations” of songs like “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and “Tambourine Man” but there were some neato special effects that accompanied this unique star ship wreck of a performance. It features two digitally super imposed Shatners singing with the real one. This was before the weight gain and toupees, so it’s easier to tell which one of them is real. It was also long before anyone knew what digital special effects were so it made it that much easier to spot which were the super imposed versions, too. The low point, or comedic high point depending on your preference, is at the 3:50 mark. Trust me, you’ll know what I mean.

Although I am embarrassed to say it publicly for the first time since the 8th grade, I was a big Star Trek fan. Every episode of the original series and every movie are familiar to me. But, just as I dissed The Hoff, I must now bow my head in shame at Shatner’s performance. To say he boldly went where no one has gone before (which I have to do because this post is about William Shatner) is a big understatement. He went way past where anyone had gone before and where no one will try and venture to again.

For anyone wondering if there is a singing course taught at the often referred to William Shatner School of Bad Acting, the answer is a resounding: yes…there…is…

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Things I Learned This Week: 10/21/06

Because I want to spare you from experiencing some of the things I endured over the last few days, I post “Things I Learned This Week” each Saturday. It’s educational, sometimes insightful and always pathetic. I hope that at least one item on this list will make your upcoming week much easier. So here are the “Things I Learned This Week” for the week of 10/15/06-10/21/06.

! I learned that when my doctor prescribes Valium (for an inner ear problem, seriously) and I tell my coworkers that I need to leave early to pick up my prescription for Valium and they get really concerned, that it’s fun to say “don’t worry, it’s not prescribed to me for the reason you think it is…it’s for stress.

! I learned that my young daughters don’t have the same appreciation for a baseball Game 7 that I do. Hence, I almost missed one of the best catches ever because I was playing Go Fish. Here’s one – Do you have any baseball coverage? No Daddy, go fish!

! I learned that when you win and successfully defend the large company your work for in small claims court that given the choice of riding down in the elevator with the people that just sued your company and lost or waiting for the next one, you should really wait for the next one. And I thought regular elevator rides with strangers were awkward!!

! I learned that despite its seemingly innocuous name, “Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie” can give 4-year olds nightmares.

! I learned that when the gang from work invites the boss to lunch, you should try and steer the conversation away from missed deadlines as much as possible. Example: Oh yeah Michael, that reminds me, did you get the XYZ report in to me last week? Hey, how about them nachos and salsa? They’re delicious!

! Number 5 reminds me that I also learned when it is Bosses Day and everyone leaves the office for lunch together, you should probably invite your actual boss. So the answer is yes, the thing I learned listed above this one happened the day AFTER Bosses Day.

And lastly…

! I learned that if you are going to keep referring to your female coworker when listing the things you learned this week, you’d better get her permission and probably remember that you keep mentioning her BEFORE you tell her about the existence of your blog.

***Also, I want to thank Morgen at It's A Blog Eat Blog World for allowing me to play 7 Silly Questions this week. Morgen, thanks again and I had a blast!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Five’s A Charm

I want to thank The Thinker 5 times for tagging me with this list of fives. So, here goes…

Five Things I Would Do If I Were A Millionaire:
Obviously I would quit work, so I won’t even count that one, but what I would do is:
1. Attend the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway
2. Build our dream home, with enough room for our closest family to stay with us during the major holidays (like the Daytona 500 weekend and Columbus Day)
3. Once a year take our closest friends and their immediate families on a cruise
4. Finally take my wife to Hawaii – Aloha Moola!!
5. Donate an entire ward and all the tools, equipment and medicine necessary to fill it, to our local children’s hospital. I would ask that it be named after someone in my life who has had a great influence on me – or TV personality Fred Willard. It really depends on how I feel during dedication day

Five Bad Habits:
1. Not listening when others are speaking
2. Laziness
3. Burping out loud
4. Procrastinating. Actually forget that one, I’ll type it later (see what I mean)
5. Interrrupting when others are speaking, usually to make a joke

Five Things I Hate Doing:
1. Getting up and going to work when my little ones and wife are still sleeping
2. Getting to work
3. Trips to the emergency room to be defibrilated
4. Attending funerals
5. Attending weddings

Five Things I Would Never Do:
1. Be mean to someone’s face
2. Cuss in front of my parents
3. Abandon my family
4. Steal
5. Root for Jeff Gordon or the Atlanta Braves

Five Things I Regret Doing:
1. Not trying open mic night at a local comedy club when my history teacher encouraged me to in high school
2. Leaving 2 very good job opportunites/career paths that were offered to me early in my working life
3. Not keeping in touch with a few old friends
4. Not starting my writing/blogging a year earlier when at home all summer recovering from major surgery
5. Waiting 4 years to lose all the weight I gained after getting married (and gaining it in the frist dang place!)

Five Favorite Things:
1. Family
2. NASCAR and Baseball
3. (Trying to) make people laugh
4. Good food (especially BBQ and lobster)
5. Christmastime (which as you know, seems to run from late September through New Years nowadays)

Five People I Choose To Do This:
Hmmmmm, whoever wants to. Just make sure you let me know you did. Hopefully the number will come out to 5!

Also, I want to thank Ra Ra Ra Bunggio at Awesomely Amazing for choosing me as the 2nd Place winner in his First Ever Wiki Contest to name a 'Cheesy Pick Up Line' ...woo hoo, it's a major award!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It Seemed Like A Great Idea At The Time…

According to Reuters, a company in California (where else would it be) that cloned family pets has closed its doors. The company’s name (and I swear on everything holy that I am not making this up) was named Genetic Savings and Clone. No, really. The Reuters story said that the company had only cloned two cats while in business and charged $50,000 to do so.

This is just a thought here, but if you were paying that much money to clone a pet because you were either so attached to it…. or…I don’t know…CRAZY, wouldn’t you feel better spending that type of dough on a firm with a little more scientific sounding name? I’m thinking of a name like Clone Technologies, Inc. or Genetic Reproductions; something with a little credence to it rather than sounding like something from Saturday Night Live.

That being stated however, assigning a clever name to a pet cloning company would make an ad agency’s creative team salivate. I can imagine names like Double Trouble, Clones-R-Us, You Bring ‘Em, We Clone ‘Em. Well, you get the point. At the end of the day, I guess the name was irrelevant since the company was only given business by two people in their few years of existence. That’s not an overwhelming vote of confidence.

I know that there are a lot of moral, ethical and religious issues with cloning, but if I had $50 grand to throw away, I’d throw it away on myself instead of the family pet. I would also throw out my caution, better judgment and taste so I could clone myself. It seems like something from a bad sitcom (we could call it All of Me and the theme song would be the Sinatra tune by the same name), but when you stop to really think it out, it’s not a bad idea.

It hit me while I was sitting in small claims court this morning representing the large company I work for that there are things we all hate doing, like work. By having ourselves cloned, it would be like taking an early retirement. We can just send our clone to do whatever we don’t want to. Unless I am getting honored or they’re celebrating my birthday, I’d send my clone to work while I go out and enjoy myself. Dinner at the in-laws next week? Yep, clone time. Let’s say you get caught speeding tomorrow. Who would you rather send to traffic school, yourself or your clone?

Have you always wanted to skydive but were too afraid? Send your clone. It’s a win-win situation because if your clone survives and says there’s nothing to it then you are safe to try it yourself. If your clone doesn’t make it or thinks you’d be too scared, at least you’ve got the photos of your clone skydiving that you can use to brag. Think about that obnoxious neighbor down the street who throws the holiday party every winter that you feel you have to attend, even though you can’t stand him. That’s the perfect time to send your clone in place of you, especially if he serves turkey burgers and soy eggnog again this year.

There are some finer details that need to be worked out (like staring your clone in the face without losing your sanity), but I wouldn’t mind having myself cloned. I’m not so sure my wife would agree, so I’ll probably have to put my exact replica up in an apartment across town and provide him with a portion of my income like he’s a ‘kept’ clone. I just hope my wife doesn’t find out. Can you imagine how embarrassing it would be if she found out about the apartment and money and accused me of cheating? I’d look pretty pathetic when it’s discovered that I’m not hiding another woman, but my exact clone. Although, if it means retirement at the age of 32, I’d say it’s well worth the risk.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Drink This And…

Drinking, no matter what it is, can cause a lot of different things to happen to the human body. Drink too much alcohol and you can end up in jail or too embarrassed to see your friends ever again. Drink too much soda (the regular kind) and you end up overweight with really bad bones and teeth. Drink too much diet soda and you end up with a really bad taste in your mouth. Drink too much coffee and you end up jittery with heart palpitations or with no money (if your get your coffee from Starbucks). Drink too much water and, well actually, that’s ok. Coca-Cola is releasing a new green tea beverage called Enviga that they say will help you lose weight.

Finally, the miracle tonic is here and of course just like our modern image of ole Santa Claus; it could only be Coca-Cola that created it. There has been a lot of research about the effect of green tea on our metabolism and whether or not it helps us lose weight. I don’t know that it’s been proven either way yet, but people are still flocking to green tea and all the new green tea products that keep popping up out there. Coca-Cola says that drinking three cans of their Enviga within a 24-hour period can help you lose up to 100 calories. What everyone seems to have forgotten is that EXERCISE CAN GIVE YOU THE SAME RESULTS. The problem of course is that exercise doesn’t taste as good and it takes a little more work than popping a top. The good thing is that drinking three cans of coke within 24 hours will most certainly NOT help you lose weight, so I guess that’s a pretty big improvement.

With this latest shot across the bow, Enviga has re-energized and re-invigorated (so to speak) the Cola Wars. In “Cola Wars, Episode 4 – Enviga Strikes Back” (I know that’s lame, but really, it’s a Monday) the other cola giants are now stumbling over themselves to create products to compete. My special informant who is responsible for making up, I mean reporting, secret news developments to me has revealed the plans that Coke’s competitors are working on. It seems they have decided to let Coke have the weight loss market and are concentrating on other revolutionary body improvement tonics.

Pepsi is getting ready to release Beautonic, which will make you look more attractive after drinking a twelve pack. I guess that’s the exact opposite of alcohol because you’d think a twelve pack would make someone else look attractive, but it seems they have found a new ingredient which alters your appearance. Not to be outdone, Dr. Pepper, the most cerebral of soft drinks (after all, it does have a PhD) is currently test marketing Smart X, which if you haven’t figured out already, will make you smarter the more you drink. Obviously, Smart X is also the opposite of alcohol. Finally, 7-Up has created a logic improving drink (rumor has it they’ve got a great ad campaign using Leonard Nimoy, which makes me think that Enviga should employ a before and after campaign with William Shatner) that allows you to relax and slow down so that you think things out more clearly before speaking and interacting with others. You guessed it, it’s called Shut-up.

As you can tell, it’s going to be an exciting time for soft drink lovers. While we’ll always be addicted (quite literally) to our sugary sweet favorites, the new products I have mentioned give us some great alternatives, with wonderful side effects. By combining all of them, what I call The Dr. Jekyll, you get all of the elements that will make you (on the surface) a great person. You’ll definitely want to down a few of each before your next dinner party or social gathering.

It’s very similar to the same cocktail politicians and celebrities have been drinking for years. Well, until they get elected or become famous, at which point they stop drinking it and revert to their real inner selves and start pursuing young male interns and cigar loving female interns or start jumping on couches during talk show appearances. But that’s not really the point of this story. You know what; maybe we should all just stick with Coke!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Congratulations America, We Did It!!

As you have probably read by now and will undoubtedly read and hear more about in the next few days, America’s population total topped 300 million earlier this morning. It’s funny because I thought downtown LA had that many people last time I was there. It sure seemed that way. While I obviously don’t have a great concept of numbers, I can tell you in a very scientific way that 300 million is a lot of people. As of this writing, I don’t know who the lucky 300 millionth person was but Disneyland has promised them a free annual pass. Our country is definitely growing and from what I have read, it seems that our 300 millionth member (if you will) has not really given us a reason to celebrate. I disagree and say start the party!

It’s not that our country is overcrowded; it’s that the main population centers where people feel they can most easily find work are past being overcrowded. I saw an AP article that states over half of our population is located on each coast. If it were a cartoon, each coast would struggle under the weight of so many people until ultimately falling into the ocean, leaving a lot of room and a lot less people in the middle parts of our country. Good thing it’s not a cartoon, although the population situation is a little comical.

In what other country would there be a countdown for its populace to reach a certain number and then when it happens, everyone bitches? It would be similar to everyone gathering in Times Square to celebrate on New Years Eve and when the Ball finally drops and Dick Clark wishes us Happy New Year, they turn around to boo and then leave. We should be happy that we are doing so well and that we are reaching each 100 million mark faster than the previous one! Bigger and better in America, isn’t it?

I have a special reason to celebrate. The same article I read mentioned in a list of the country’s fastest growing types of areas that Riverside, California is the fastest growing metropolitan area! Woo Hoo! Am I upset? Why no, I think being one suburb away from the fastest growing metro area is a wonderful thing and something worth bragging about. The fact that it takes longer than ever to go anywhere and that the local freeway is a constant parking lot is a good thing. Coming home mumbling about traffic every night is just the way I tend to celebrate things.

Our country has a lot of room to expand (ever been to Needles, California) so we should set a goal of reaching the next 100 million mark with zeal. We should take to the streets for “Uncontained Growth” parties that will feature concerts and free food to get everyone excited about beating the population numbers of those that we trail. Look out China and India! We may trail by a very wide margin, but we’ve got room in this country and we know how to reproduce. The United States doesn’t like losing at too many things and since we are currently winning the bronze in the Overpopulation Olympics, we’ll have to do our part to contribute to the population boom.

Bottom line: we should not be upset about passing the 300 million mark, we should use it as incentive to get to the next 100 million mark even faster, and the one after that and the one after that and the one after that…Mr. or Mrs. 300 Millionth American, we salute you!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Take A Memo: It’s Bosses Day!

So, is it Boss’ Day or Bosses Day? It really does matter. Boss’ Days means that our boss possesses the day (although I guess our bosses possesses every day we work for them) and Bosses Day means a day of bosses, which could be a pretty scary idea. Whatever the grammatical treatment, today is the day we honor our boss. Doesn’t it seem appropriate in a somewhat twisted way that Bosses Day falls on a Monday, which is universally regarded as the one day of the work week that we all don’t want to be there.

I’ve never been a boss so I am on the honoring instead of honoree side. I will admit right here and now (especially since my boss knows about and may actually read my blog) that I like my boss and feel fortunate to have him as my leader. Bosses can be different things to different folks: friend, mentor, colleague or enemy. Not sure about the enemy part? Just think, Darth Vader and Mussolini were both bosses and I don’t consider levitating your employees while choking them is what exemplary bosses do (yes, I am speaking about Mussolini). There are mafia bosses and Boss Hogg. Every former President was a boss and the guy running your favorite bowling alley is a boss. I could also argue that if you are a parent you’re a boss, but since I have to freely admit that my daughters rule me, I won’t push the point.

Many people would follow their boss off the edge of a cliff. Of course, many more would rather push their boss off the edge of that same cliff. With all respect to my boss, my favorite boss is not even real. It’s Michael Scott of NBC’s The Office. On the surface it seems like it would be aggravating working for him, but I and my co-workers think it would be endlessly entertaining. The guy tries so hard and fails miserably to gain the friendship, not to mention respect of his employees. Plus, he has no conscience and no idea of what is and is not appropriate to say around the workplace. And we all know that social awkwardness makes for great entertainment!

Aside from being in charge and having to make most decisions, it’s got to be hard being a boss. Do you want your staff to like you? Do you try to befriend them or do you make decisions regardless of what it will do to them? I’m sure it’s not a popularity contest but it is nice to be liked so I imagine that makes the going difficult for every boss. Seriously, aside from God and Jimmy Buffett, can you think of a boss who is liked by every one of their underlings? Hitler doesn’t count because he was liked by his staff under the fear of death, which I hear is a pretty strong motivational tool.

So, if you are a boss and happen to be reading this blog, Happy Bosses Day! If you have a boss, then this day may not mean as much to you. Incidentally, what day is there to honor employees? Yeah there is Labor Day and many companies have an employee appreciation day, but what day do employees get to go to work and receive some kind of recognition? If you are an administrative professional, (I’m trying to be PC) you get Administrative Professionals Day, but if you are a mid-level worker, I guess you just don’t get a day. There are always sick days, but don’t expect your fellow employees to send a card, unless you really are sick, but that’s nothing to celebrate now, is it?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Repost Sunday: Help, I'm Stuck In The MRI Machine

I rerun some of my older posts on Sundays as a way to highlight stories that you may have missed. Just think of it as 'thought recycling' and a day off. This was originally posted July 26, 2006.

There is a new report out I saw courtesy of Reuters that says an increasing percentage of Americans do not X-Ray well. I suppose this is similar to not photographing well? It is well documented that we Americans are getting fatter. This trend has caught up with the medical imaging community. What I’m beating around the bush about is that Americans are becoming too fat to X-Ray.

Yep, not only has America gained weight to the point that we need extra medical attention every year, we can now no longer get the valuable imaging we need to identify if we have the problems brought on by the obesity in the first place! As we become thicker, it gets more difficult to penetrate our bodies for an image. Some folks also no longer fit into the CT or MRI tubes. The X-Ray crisis (my label only, it’s not official) includes traditional X-Rays, CT Scans, MRIs and even ultrasounds.

I bet this puts doctors and medical imagers in a pretty awkward position. Can you imagine having to tell a sick patient during an ultrasound that all you see is comparable to not getting reception on a television? How about having to call for backup when a patient becomes lodged in the CT tube? I can hear it now: “If I could just budge it another inch, we’d be able to see the spleen!”

Of course this is America and we are a capitalistic society. Companies are already beginning to manufacture and market larger imaging systems, which is quite a relief. As I get older and my metabolism slows way down, I know I can have my medical imaging done courtesy of the current best selling system, The Ultra Ultrasound 5.0.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Things I Learned This Week: 10/14/06

Because I want to spare you from experiencing some of the things I endured over the last few days, I post “Things I Learned This Week” each Saturday. It’s educational, sometimes insightful and always pathetic. I hope that at least one item on this list will make your upcoming week much easier. So here are the “Things I Learned This Week” for the week of 10/8/06-10/14/06.

! I learned that when your female coworker asks how you like the new highlights in her hair (which you didn’t even notice by the way) that you probably should not tell her they remind you of the color of your office’s cubicle walls.

! I learned that just because the Mexican restaurant near work offers free all you can eat chips with your lunch, they don’t intend on you ordering a $1 taco and eating five bowls of them.

! I learned that not all levels of my work’s management appreciate a picture of Homer Simpson at the bottom of all my email correspondence. I was just trying to be original.

! I learned when you give your girls “big girl” beds for the first time that telling them not to jump on them for fun is exactly the same as telling them to go ahead and jump on them for fun.

! I learned that you should weed whack the grass next to your driveway before you spend all morning washing both cars.

! I learned that going out for frozen yogurt towards the end of the workday and coming back without any for your coworkers can be perceived by some as a rude or selfish act.

And lastly…

! I learned that you probably should not use the bleu cheese dressing in the fridge after uttering the phrase “Oh wow, I didn’t know we had any blue cheese, I wonder how long this has been in here.” Just trust your gut or your gut will betray you…violently.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I Just Cut My Finger Off But The Bases Are Loaded…

I’ll admit that sometimes I peruse many news sites’ “weird news” sections looking for a quickie laugh, or blog idea for that matter. I thought I hit pay dirt today until I gave what I read more thought. It was a news story courtesy of Reuters about a study done by an ER doctor in Maryland. The doctor was able to make the correlation between surges in male admissions to the ER with the ending of football, basketball and baseball games. He believes that many men are putting off needing to go to the emergency room until after the sporting activity they are watching is over. After reading it I only had one thing to say, which was, “and?”

I’m glad he was able to statistically prove what everyone probably already guessed: men don’t like going to the doctor, let alone the ER, and sports are really important to men. I don’t mind saying that in my life I have had to go to the emergency room many times to be treated for an irregular heart beat (and by treated I mean being shocked back into regular heart rhythm but as they say, that’s a blog for another day). I share that point with you only because I have statistically proven the Maryland doctor’s findings every time I have had to go to the ER. I may not wait until the game or race is completely over, but I definitely wait until the outcome of the sporting event in question appears to have been decided. Like most men, I figure that I have to be inconvenienced by spending time at the hospital for some unplanned reason and I might as well go in on my own terms, especially when my team is playing.

Now no one is admitting that this is a smart thing to do. Heck, when was the last time that men being smart and men’s devotion to sports were mentioned in the same sentence? Ok, I just did, by prior to that when was the last time that men being smart and men’s devotion to sports were mentioned in the same sentence? Shoot, I did it again, but before these two times, when was the last time…forget it, you get the point. The answer is probably never.

There is something about sports that calls to us. Maybe it’s the competition or maybe it’s the blondes used to promote beer sales during each commercial break. Ok, it’s probably both. I’m no “Women Are from Mars Men Are from Uranus” type author, but I assume that if the proverbial shoe (or high heel) were on the other foot, women would do the same thing. Or I could be wrong and unlike men, women realize the importance of immediately seeking physician assistance for chest pain or massive bleeding.

Since there is now empirical data showing that men would rather suffer or even put their lives in jeopardy to finish watching sports, will there be PSAs (which men will ignore by the way) to educate men to turn the game off and get to the hospital? I can just see it now:

“Hey guys, this is Mr. October Reggie Jackson with supermodel Heidi Klum here to ask if you just severed a finger. Are you doubled over in pain or experiencing horrible chest discomfort? If so, TURN THE GAME OFF IMMEDIATELY AND PROCEED TO THE CLOSEST HOSPITAL! You can watch the highlights on ESPN when you are all better, unless you don’t TURN THE GAME OFF IMMEDIATELY AND PROCEED TO THE CLOSEST HOSPITAL because this could be life threatening!

If PSAs are created, they should only be aired during sporting events and they’d probably better use the beer commercial blondes (no offense Reggie) to deliver the message. Now if you’ll excuse me, the game is almost over and I haven’t been able to feel my legs since the 2nd inning.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Why Does This Pumpkin Patch Smell So Bad?

Something’s rotten in the state of Indiana and the Midwest and New England, according to a recent report by the AP. Unfortunately for us Halloween lovers, the things that are rotting are pumpkins and lots of them. It seems that the heavy rains of summer followed by high temperatures have led to a growth of fungus, or fungi or fungoo. When attacked by the fungus, the entire pumpkin begins to rot. I kid you not.

All of this rotten science, so to speak, means that pumpkins won’t be as ample in most parts of the country this year. I’m sure that will translate into higher pumpkin costs and with it higher prices for pumpkin pie, pumpkin candles and roasted pumpkin seeds. As Halloween gets closer, will we be asked to pay $3.50 a pound for our pumpkins? Oh wait, that’s gas. Because it “never rains in California,” our crop appears to be strong and of no concern. At least that’s the impression I got entering my local Sam’s Club the other day. They had nothing but crates and crates of huge gourds at low wholesale club prices. Of course, the California harvest will be shipped to other parts of the country to make up for their depleted crop, so we’ll all feel the pumpkin patch pinch.

The key is to take the lessons learned by pumpkin growers this year to prevent the ruin of pumpkin crops for years to come. More research needs to be done to learn about this fungus and where it came from. I have a few ideas, but hope none of them are true (although I doubt any of them are). My first guess is that it’s chemical warfare from an unnamed anti-Halloween terrorist group. They disguise themselves as scarecrows and slip into pumpkin patches after dark, unleashing their laboratory-engineered fungus so that we are all robbed of the fine Halloween tradition of pumpkin carving. Or perhaps it’s the result of our destruction of the environment. Toxic fumes and acid rain have resulted in mutant pumpkins that wither and rot. Maybe the fungus is due to the North Koreans testing their nuclear program. What if the Great Pumpkin was angered by all the insincerity of our pumpkin patches and he created the fungus? Ok, probably not. Hopefully as next year’s elections approach, the fungus will abate and pumpkin availability will increase, driving prices lower. Oh wait, that’s gas again, sorry.

This is all just downright unfortunate. Of all the things to be susceptible to fungus after rain and heat, why did it have to be pumpkins? Couldn’t it have been some of the other gourds related to pumpkins? Why not zucchini or butternut squash? Have you ever tried to carve zucchini and place it on your front porch? Exactly! Which is why it’s such a shame that this fungus decided to destroy pumpkins. Also, why did the government wait until October to inform us of the fungus? Had we known sooner, we could all have planted our own pumpkins in plenty of time or bought the fake plastic plug in jack-o-lanterns that Target seems to coincidentally have an over abundance of.

I’m worried about being consumed by a sickening guilt when I purchase my usual lot of five pumpkins, carve them and roast their seeds as my little girls look on with smiles on their faces that only the magic of transforming an orange gourd into a jack-o-lantern can bring. Will I feel sick to my stomach as I light the candle that will illuminate them because I bought more than my share when people in other parts of the country had to go pumpkin-less this year? Oh no, I just thought of something…what if they start pumpkin rationing?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Welcome To The Hottest Club In Town

Wow, what an explosive week this has been and we’re only half way through it! North Korea apparently successfully tested its first (if not second) nuclear device. For some reason, this has generated a lot of press. In many of the stories I’ve read, there is a mention of North Korea joining the “Nuclear Club.” I’ve never heard of that club before so I did a little of my hasty research and wanted to share it with you.

The Club (as I’ll refer to it) is about as exclusive a club as you can join. There area very few select members and to gain entry, you have to have nuclear capabilities. So naturally, this is one club that you are not easily kicked out of. After all, if you possess nuclear weapons, chances are no one is going to approach you and ask you to turn in your key to the clubhouse, so to speak. The members are the US (club founder and I presume President), Russia (second to join and by longevity and sheer warhead numbers, VP), Britain (very few estimated warheads, but as America’s buddy, they get to be Club Secretary), France (Treasurer), China (Club member), India, (Club member), Pakistan (followed India in when no one was looking), North Korea (got in only because they figured out the secret knock) and possibly Israel (they say they are a member and as I already mentioned, this is a club with credentials you really don’t want to question).

It nearly killed me, but I was able to get my hands on a pamphlet for the Club. Except for the fact that half the Club hates each other and the US and Russia have a love hate relationship, the Club looks like a lot of fun. There are pools, tennis courts, an 18-hole Arnold Palmer designed golf course with the world’s largest sand trap (courtesy of repeated underground atomic testing) and the obligatory 50,000 square foot nuclear research facility. I hear the food is excellent though and they play bingo every Wednesday night.

The odd part about the Club is that most of the members don’t usually pal around together so the clubhouse is usually as empty as the Big Brother house during its last week. Hey, there’s an idea if anyone from CBS is watching (or Saturday Night Live, if you take it to the other extreme). Since it’s hard to top Big Brother All-Stars, why not Big Brother – Nuclear Style. The members of the Nuclear Club could all be sequestered in the same house for several weeks and one by one vote each other off. Wouldn’t the alliances be great? Something tells me that America and Britain would form an alliance on day one and get everyone voted off but France and then ultimately betray and evict France. When all the former “house guests” return for the final vote (assuming they all didn’t nuke each other), Britain would be voted the winner since everyone hates America. OK CBS Network President Les Moonves, I can be contacted via the email address located under my links list…

So the Nuclear Club has another member. Whether or not Kim Jong Il chooses to take advantage of the Club’s perks remains to be seen. The bottom line is he and North Korea have joined the Club and now no one can take away their membership. I guess membership truly does have its privileges, especially when that privilege is the ability to wipe your real or perceived enemies off the face of the earth. When I get a little older, I’ll just follow in my Grandfather’s footsteps and join the Elks Club, thank you very much.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

What Did You Say Your Name Is?

I owe the awareness of this story to my good friend Tracy (thank you Tracy!). She sent me an AP report that I had to read twice. It seems that one of Biloxi, Mississippi’s newest residents is little baby ESPN. ESPN’s mommy promised ESPN’s daddy that if their newborn was a son, he could name it ESPN. I couldn’t find out whether or not they will pronounce the baby’s name “E-S-P-N” or “Espen.” Whatever pronunciation they decide to use, it seems little ESPY (as I’ll call him) has a few same-named friends. The report says that there are three other baby ESPN’s that have been born during the network’s 25th anniversary year. Was there a “Name Your Baby after Our Network and Win Fabulous Cash Prizes” promotion I wasn’t aware of?

Now before I go further, I need to admit something that we’ll just call a disclaimer. My youngest twin is named after my favorite NASCAR Speedway. I also have to admit that my oldest twin was within a few minutes of also being named after a NASCAR track (and no, the name is not Daytona. I thought about it but was afraid that it sounded too much like a stripper’s stage name. However, if your name happens to be Daytona and you are a stripper, then I think it’s a lovely name). Now normally my wife would stop me at this point and tell you that my youngest girl’s name is also the name of an antique glass from England and many towns across the country have the same name. Ironically, it’s also the name of the town in Connecticut where ESPN is located, but that’s inconsequential. Although it’s a pretty good clue. Normally I just refer to them as Lucy and Ethel, or when around a younger crowd, Laverne and Shirley.

With my disclaimer out of the way, I have noticed that people will name their children many things, but naming a child after a sports network, especially one with just a few letters, is sure to give you an angry adolescent a few years down the road. Imagine the confusion having that name is going to cause.

“Hey sweetie, where is ESPN?”

“Honey, you know it’s on channel 208.”

“No dear, I mean where is our son?”

“Oh, he’s in the living room watching ESPN.”

“You mean he’s watching himself? How's that even possible? We don’t have a mirror in the living room.”

Well, you get the idea. I’m a big fan of the Speed Channel, but if I have a son I’m sure not naming him Speed. I love the Food Network but it would be unfair to have a child named Food. My wife watches Home and Garden as much as I watch Speed, but I don’t expect her to name our next child HGTV, or CMT or GAC for that matter. There are a lot of news junkies around and they are very loyal to their particular cable news outlets, so it surprises me that there aren’t more (if any) MSNBC’s, CNNs, FOX News or CSPANs running around out there. If there are it is certainly not fair or balanced, to quote Fox News.

Of course, when you have a child, you inherit the natural born right to name your offspring whatever you desire. If you want a Baby Elvis, you get a Baby Elvis. Want a Wynonna, you name her Wynonna. You think Engelbert sounds good; go write Engelbert on the birth certificate. The bottom line is that while we all reserve the right to question your newborn’s name (and don’t worry, we will), only you can select or change it. That is until little Engelbert reaches legal adult status, of course. Let’s just hope the next parents that name their child after a television network are a big fan of “Nick” at Nite.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Ghostly Tag...

Irene over at Pregnant Pauses tagged me with a few Halloween related questions. It’s fun learning about and sharing with all of my friends in blogsville, but if I keep getting tagged I’m going to need to refill my prescription for blogicillin. Thanks for thinking of me Irene, that was very nice of you. Here are my ghoulish answers:

1. What's the scariest movie you've ever seen?
Without a doubt, it’s The Sound of Music. It’s not really my taste and I swore I’d never see it again. I’ll take my Julie Andrews with a Spoodful of Sugar, thank you very much!

2. What was your favorite Halloween Costume from childhood?
Well, it was my sophmore year of high school, but since I’m still just a big kid, that’ll be my choice. I put on sneakers and jeans and one of my dad’s sport coats, put a gap in my teeth with black crayon and went as my comedic hero, David Letterman. I had a top ten list and everything and different guys in each of my classes assumed the role of Paul Schaeffer. And the answer is yes, I’m still that pathetic ;-)

3. If you had an unlimited budget, what would your Fantasy Costume be for this Halloween?
That’s a great question. I’d probably buy the most expensive Darth Vader costume available, complete with evil breathing apparatus. If not that, then Dr. Evil. I’m not so sure why I want to be the bad guy though. Maybe it’s because I’m such a good guy in my everyday life? Nah!

4. When was the last time you went Trick Or Treating?
Technically last year when I accompanied Tinker Bell and Cinderella on their rounds of our neighborhood.

5. What's your favorite Halloween Candy?
Definitely Kit-Kat, but I don’t need it to be Halloween to enjoy.

6. Tell us about a scary nightmare you had.
It usually involved having to be at school on a Saturday for some reason.

7. What is your Supernatural Fear?
Probably Hell. I mean what's worse than that.

8. What is your Creepy-Crawlie Fear?
Gigantic sea bass with frickin' laser beams strapped to their heads.

9. Tell us about a time when you saw a ghost, or heard something go Bump in the night.
It’s usually me…let me explain. My artificial heart valve ticks and at night when it’s quiet, it is very easy to hear. Just ask my wife.

10. Would you ever stay in a real Haunted House overnight?
Yeah, as long as there was a free continental breakfast in the morning…provided I make it to the morning. BWAHAHAHAHA!!

11. Are you a traditionalist (just a face) Jack O'Lantern Carver, or do you get really creative with your pumpkins?
Traditional triangle eyes, triangle nose and smiley mouth with two teeth all the way! Although there were a couple of years that I carved Dale Earnhardt’s #3 and Jr.’s #8. They turned out pretty cool.

12. How much do you decorate your home for Halloween?
Not a whole lot, although we have a ton of stuff. We just never seem to get around to it. You should see this place come Christmas though!

13. What do you want on your Tombstone?
Please step back a few feet, you’re standing over my stomach!

There are my answers. Thanks for letting me play Irene. I’m not sure who to tag that I haven’t tagged already, so why doesn’t everyone participate!

Break Out The Fine China And Silverware, It’s Columbus Day!

History is something I truly enjoy studying, so when I awoke this morning and was reminded by Odat’s blog that today is Columbus Day, I did some quick Christopher Columbus refreshing on the Wondernet. Ok, I’ll be honest; I was prompted more by the fact that for some today is a day off than by my interest in Mr. Columbus himself.

Now keep in mind that I was in an early morning no-coffee-yet haze while doing my Columbus Day research, so some facts may be a little sketchy. It was around this time in 1492 that Italian sailor Chris Columbus left Spain (who financed his voyage) for the New World. He sailed with three boats, which if I remember correctly were called the Enterprise, Excelsior and the Santa Fe. After that, the details begin to differ significantly from what we learned in textbooks as youngins.

From what I have gathered, it took Columbus something like five different voyages to “find” the New World, although Spain kept financing him, so he gets kudos there (unless he was a “kept” sailor and Queen Whatserhername was his royal sugar mamma). In the meantime, he “found” the Bahamas and even Cuba. Add to that the fact that there is ample evidence (depending on whom you believe) that anything Columbus did was moot because the Vikings had already “found” the New World. We are of course forgetting that the continent had long been inhabited anyway, so there was really nothing to find in the first place.

Confused? Join the party because I could reread what I just wrote another ten times and still have the scholarly reaction of “duhhhhhhh, what?” Of course, I wouldn’t be such a stickler about this if I had the day off because I can guarantee you that federal employees and bank employees couldn’t care less about what today is in observance of. I however did work today and am all the more interested in what should really be observed today and whether it’s worthy of some folks getting an all expense paid day off.

This got me thinking, as most things do, about all the other holidays where the observances are less than concrete. Perhaps the biggest of these is Christmas. It’s hard to be sure of the actual birthday of baby Jesus as the holiday evolved over the centuries until it coincided with a different religious holiday that already occurred each December. I suppose the day (though I have no proof whatsoever and am too lazy to find out for sure) could be in the middle of June. That would really affect the over commercialized version of Christmas, so I shudder to try to imagine the implications any more than I already have. Even the Fourth of July is slightly off kilter. John Adams wrote that he could foresee the third of July becoming a day of national celebration. I won’t bother to mention all the Presidential birthdays in February that were melded together to create President’s Day.

I suppose that next we’ll discover that Father’s Day is not the actual day that the very first father came into being, but was selected because there is normally good weather in mid-June making it perfect for barbequing. What again is Labor Day? Shouldn’t it be renamed to End of Summer Day since that’s what it has become?

Oh well, the second Monday of October is and apparently always will be Columbus Day and unless I change occupations, it won’t matter because I’ll still be working. So to you Mr. Columbus and your intrepid band of travelers, thank you for finding, or discovering, or stumbling upon wherever you did whenever you did at some point many years ago. American thanks you, I think.

Author’s note: very little actual research was done for this story and should it appear in your Google search for any school report or paper, it should be promptly ignored and discarded immediately.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Repost Sunday: Is My Watermelon Supposed To Be Brown?

I rerun some of my older posts on Sundays as a way to highlight stories that you may have missed. Just think of it as 'thought recycling' and a day off. This was originally posted July 27, 2006.

The United States Department of Agriculture is at it again. They have announced that watermelon is less nutritious when cold. It’s due to some scientific changing process type transformation thing that I’m too lazy to research or type out. Apparently a room temperature watermelon is a more nutritious watermelon. The best part of this groundbreaking discovery is how much room will be freed up in the fridge now that we can all remove the watermelon and place it on the counter. Of course now counter space will become a premium across the U.S.

Things must be pretty slow this time of year at the USDA when you see reports like this. Were two scientists sitting around bored when one bet the other that a cold watermelon is actually worse than a lukewarm room temperature one? Did everyone in the lab get excited and place bets as if it were the Super Bowl office pool? I’d always thought that a rotten watermelon would be pretty devoid of anything nutritious, but I guess I would have lost big if I’d been betting. Shouldn’t the USDA people be figuring out how to keep packaged meat looking nice and red for longer periods or how to remove the chicken bone from a drumstick?

As if the idea of warm watermelon wasn’t well, juicy enough check this out. Parts of Switzerland have been experiencing the same type of intense heat and high temperatures we have. The Zurich Zoo has decided to do something about it for their animals. Apparently they maintain better zoos than we do because U.S. zoos have been eerily quiet about what they’ve been doing for their animals in this hot weather.

Folks at the Zurich Zoo are feeding their larger animals ice cream. This ain’t your grandma’s homemade self-churned vanilla though. It’s a delicious mixture of frozen berries, meat and bones (we'll just leave where the meat and bones came form to our imaginations). If it works and the animals like it, maybe Ben and Jerry’s will introduce it here stateside. They could call it Cherry Chunky Carcass.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

I've Been Tagged...Again!!

HeartsInSanFrancisco tagged me with this book meme. I hope that shot they gave me the other day covers multiple memes. At any rate, here are my bookish answers:


Truly, the Bible.

Baseball by Ken Burns – it was the companion to his PBS documentary

Anything by Dave Barry

Any Dave Barry Book. In fact, I bought one before I had open heart surgery and tried to read it several times after surgery while I was still in the hospital. I never could get past the first page because I kept laughing, which hurt like the dickens (to use a literary reference).

The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw.

John Adams by David McCullough. It was a great read, I almost forgot it was history.

How To Pick Up Chicks On A Budget. Ok, I made that up.

I’m actually reading two at the same time: The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson and I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This!: And Other Things That Strike Me as Funny by Bob Newhart

Dutch. It’s the biography of Ronald Reagan.

1776 by David McCullough. It’s a reminder how lucky we are that we won the Revolutionary War and how easily we could have lost it.

Green Eggs and Ham

Those are my book selections. Now, I would like to tag Odat, Meloncutter and Lee. Sorry folks.

Things I Learned This Week: 10/7/06

Last week I decided to begin a new feature on Saturdays. Because I want to spare you from experiencing some of the things I endured over the last few days, I started something called “Things I Learned This Week.” It’s educational, sometimes insightful and always pathetic. I hope after sharing this list that at least one item will make your upcoming week much easier. So here is the second installment of “Things I Learned This Week” for the week of 10/1/06-10/7/06.

! I learned that when you are with a female co-worker and another female in your vicinity bends over and inadvertently exposes her thong, it’s no use pretending you don’t see it because you are with another female and you want to be a gentleman. Especially since your female co-worker is going to make a big deal out of it and point out the exposed thong to you anyway.

! I learned that when the nurse giving you your flu shot is named Mercy, you can’t take for granted that it still won’t hurt. A lot.

! I learned that when you are working late and singing “You’re Cheatin’ Heart” by Hank Williams Sr. as loud as you can, don’t always assume there is no one else in the building just because you don’t see anyone. This one was embarrassing to learn.

! I learned that no matter how exciting it is for me to go through the Halloween aisle at Target, my four year olds may not think that fake severed heads, hands, skeletons and Draculas are all that exciting.

! I learned that getting into work late because I stopped to buy the new George Strait album on the way in isn’t as valid an excuse to others as it is to me.

! I learned that even though the charcoal has ashed over and appears a cool gray, it’s still not a good idea to flick it with your fingers when you need to move it during cooking.

And lastly…

! I learned that when "Mommy" is out of town and you want to spoil Daddy's little girls, don’t let them eat Oreo cookies on your bed…on brand new sheets.