Saturday, April 17, 2010

I'm NOT on a horse. But I'm willing to be if it will save my marriage. (Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, 58)

I was moments away from beginning this when Mr Bunches had an accident, so my train of thought was interrupted and made me forget everything I was going to write. The Hunk post I was going to do was brilliant. Now, you're just stuck with this one.

The Hunk of the Week is...

Isaiah Mustafa!

You Don't Know Him Without You have an encyclopedic knowledge of 3rd-string wide receivers for the Seattle Seahawks. That's right: Isaiah Mustafa was drafted by the Seahawks in 2000 and played for them for a while, as well as playing in the astonishingly popular global phenomenon that was NFL Europe.

Oh, and he did this:

but who pays attention to commercials? Except me that is. I pay attention to commercials, and I paid attention to that one, mostly because of the end line, "I'm on a horse."

I then told Sweetie about it, and she acted like it was no big deal, until she saw Isaiah Mustafa on The Dish last week, and now she's all a-flutter about him... to the point where she even found out his name.

I didn't know his name. I just knew him as That Guy From That Commercial. Heck, I didn't even know what the commercial was for. (I guessed a car.) But Sweetie went and looked him up and downloaded pictures of him, and wrote fan mail to him (probably.)

Thing That Makes You Go Hmmm About Him: He has a whopping talent range. Not only is he The Guy Who's On A Horse, but he also played Moses in the movie The Last Supper, which comes as kind of a surprise, because:

1. I didn't know that Moses was around for the Last Supper. Actually, although I'm no Biblical Scholar, I'm 100% certain that he wasn't -- because I recall not only that there was a painting of the Last Supper which didn't show Moses in it, but also that the painting of The Last Supper had a hidden secret code in it:

And that hidden secret code also didn't mention music. (The hidden secret code actually promised Da Vinci's painting's viewers that if they wrote down the code and then entered it into Da Vinci's website [], they'd be eligible to join the "Junior Da Vincis" club and possibly get tickets to a real medieval inquisition.)(Offer not available in Texas and places where the Internet had not yet been invented in 1250 A.D.)

And, 2. Isn't it great to picture Moses as the Guy On A Horse?

"Look at God. Now look at me. Now look at God. He's a burning bush. What's in my hand? Two stone tablets. Now they're a golden idol. Smash it. I'm on the bottom of the Red Sea. When your fragile band of Israelites is led out of Egypt by a giant flaming column of smoke and dust, anything is possible."

Isaiah Mustafa also played the role of Football Player on something called Football Wives, which I understand involved men trying to marry everyday objects to win a Japanese game show. (The $1,000,000 top prize went to Chuck, from Idaho, who successfully married his tractor.)

Reason I Assumed Sweetie Liked Him: Sweetie and I have a ritual on Saturday afternoons and evenings; at some point during Saturday, we settle in to watch the TV show The Dish-- or we plan to do that. In actuality, every Saturday, Sweetie watches it until I doze off and then she turns the channel to watch Law & Order.

Last week, or maybe it was the week before, because I'm a little disoriented today, Isaiah Mustafa was on The Dish as a guest, making jokes about his commercial.

So I assumed that Sweetie remembered seeing him on The Dish, but got a little confused because she'd switched over to Law & Order, so she actually thought she saw him on that show, and that made her automatically like him, since the quickest way to Sweetie's heart is to be on a Law & Order (which means that eventually Sweetie will love everyone in the world, because eventually we will all be on Law & Order.)(And then the Lawandorderpocalypse will occur and we'll all be dead.)

Sweetie's Actual Reason For Liking Him: I asked her this morning, and Sweetie at first quoted the commercial, saying: "Look at me, look at him."

When I said "What?" she said: "He has a good body."

Then she added quickly, "But he's funny!"
Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Actual Reason For Liking Him: I thought that Sweetie was quoting the commercial when she first spoke. Now, though, looking back, I'm wondering if she really was. What if she was saying "Look at me, look at him" as a way of saying that she -- the perfect woman -- and him -- the perfect man AND he's on a horse-- should hook up and create a superhuman race?

So I would just like to mention to Sweetie that I'm a lawyer and I've looked into it and Wanting to create a superhuman race is NOT grounds for leaving your husband. Not in our state. (It is in Idaho.)

This Is Why I Hate People?--
and I've got a new reason every day. Check out the Blog and the Twitter.

Friday, April 16, 2010

So in the 23rd Century, we will be paid to engage in leisure activities? Cryogenic freezing chamber, here I come.

Are you, like me, tired of just getting things free? Are you tired of having to actually spend your own money to get stuff, instead of having people pay you to get stuff?

Well, I am. Paying for things is so 20th century. I'd assumed that by now we'd be in some futuristic economy where we could get Get Paid To Shop... and I'm right.

Market America is the company I've found that's moved things into, say, the 23rd century, by offering a revolutionary program that PAYS YOU TO SHOP.

Get paid to shop? As Sarah Palin would say (if someone wrote it down for her to read back in halting speech with a pre-programmed wink), "You BETCHA!" The Market America Cashback program does just that.

By shopping online through Market America, you can buy all the things you need or want, and get money back. You'll get 2% of your purchases back when you buy from Market America's partner stores or their branded products, and you can make an additional 1/2% on any referral purchases.

There's no upper limit, so the more you shop, the more you'll get back, and the shopping is all from your own home (or your office, if that's where you shop.) There's no cost to join and Market America has over 35 million -- million -- products in 3,000+ partner stores. They'll let you make referrals (and earn money) by installing links, banners and widgets, and it's available to people outside the US, too.

I'm thinking this might be a new career for me -- I could just online shop and make millions. No, no, don't bother with your arguments about how that logically won't work. I'm not listening to you naysayers. I'm off to make my fortune!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just Another Routine Story (Thinking The Lions)

There are no routines in my life anymore, and as a result, I tipped a locksmith $2.50 today.

I, like any person who wears his A Christmas Story t-shirt out of season -- and doesn't even do so ironically -- like to think of myself as a creative, spontaneous person who is always breaking free of the restrictive molds society puts on me. I congratulate myself every time I do something "outside the box," like this past Saturday, when I really expanded my horizons in the process of ordering breakfast at the McDonald's drive-thru on my way to work with the Babies!

The Babies! have started accompanying me to my office on the weekends, for the few hours I stop in on Saturday or Sunday mornings. They serve three purposes on those trips:

First, they let Sweetie get a break from having them around. That will sound terrible to anyone who hasn't spent much time around the Babies!, so if you're one of those people who reflexively thought "Wait, she's their mom, how come she needs a break from them," then I'll just tell you Wait. I won't say Wait until you have kids of your own, because you'll probably be a jerk and have kids-of-your-own who are perfect. You'll probably have kids who will not, as you are reading a story to one of the Babies!, come rushing up to you in a panic with some unexplained white goo on his fingers, and try to cram the white goo into your mouth.

That's what Mr Bunches did last night, as I read a story to Mr F. While Mr F and I got lost in the magical world of A Bugs' Life knock-off storybooks, Mr Bunches was toodling around on his own and I was paying him no attention until he came barreling across the room, hand held out and yelling. I barely had time to register that there was white goo on his fingers before he was trying to stuff them into my mouth, crying, while Mr F tried frantically to head somewhere less white-goo-ful. I wrestled Mr Bunches' hand away but not before the goo was in my mouth, a turn of events that mollified him. He walked away, peacefully, and Mr F climbed back up to continue the book, which I did -- but I was distracted by wondering what I'd just eaten.

Before you get too grossed out, I'll let you know: It was sour cream. Mr Bunches had, unbeknownst to me, dunked his toy train engine into the sour cream and then tried to clean it off with his fingers -- but that had apparently left him with the mess on his fingers, so he needed a way to clean those. The reason I couldn't place the taste of the sour cream at first was that I don't usually eat sour cream, and also it tasted a bit like a toy train engine and a lot like Mr Bunches' fingers.

Your kids probably won't do that, although if you thought Why does Sweetie need a break, then I hope that someday you get your own snack of Forcible Mystery Goo and you'll see what I mean, then. Get enough foreign objects stuffed into your mouth by a kid who will then try to knock a dresser over on his brother, and you'll want a break.

The second purpose the Babies! serve is to make sure that I don't end up staying at the office too long on Saturdays or Sundays. While I'm not likely to get caught up and stay there very long, it's always possible that at some point I'll decide to actually do a little work, and if that happens, I might also lose track of the time and lose track of the fact that it's a weekend and I'm at the office, and stay longer than the planned 3-4 hours.

The Babies!'s maximum attention span for anything is 3 hours. They can achieve 3 hours of doing something if you have enough things going on in their presence at once. If you can get a TV show going, and give them snacks and milk, and have roughly 37 red cars for Mr Bunches to play with, and have something for them to jump on (a mattress or desk chair or, in a pinch, coffee table will work find) and also have something for Mr F to like to play with that you wouldn't expect him to like to play with (lately, it's coat hangers; he's obsesssed with those. Prior to that, it was spatulas. Briefly, it was a rake), if you have all that you can possibly buy three hours of time in which you can do something other than put their pants back on. When I take them to the office, I put them in a spare office and turn on the computer to Youtube and provide them with snacks and give them various highly-inappropriate office implements to play with like White Out, and hope that I can get something done, should I ever choose to try to get something done.

The third purpose for the Babies! coming to the office with me on the weekends is to give me a reason to buy McGriddles. I ordinarily do not like to spoil myself by buying fast food breakfasts, but I have to when the Babies! are around because the Babies! like the McDonald's hash browns and have come to expect them when they go to the office with me. (They expect them because I taught them to expect them so that they'd make me get them.) When I buy their hash browns, I always buy a value meal to take advantage of the value (it's right in the title!), because doing so lets me get them a milk-and-a-hash-brown each, which is the breakfast they like. So I buy two McGriddle value meals and give the Babies! the hash browns and milk and take the McGriddles myself, as a service to them.

I could just buy the hash browns, and take milk from home, but then I'd be missing out on all that value.

Plus, it's kind of weird to just order hash browns at McDonald's, don't you think? I don't want to be one of those people who does that. People who would just order hash browns at McDonald's are weird, like people who just get water with a meal at a restaurant or people who sit on a rotating bar stool and don't immediately spin it around. I don't want to be one of those people.

This past weekend, I took the Babies! with me to the office on Saturday, and as our routine went, we stopped at McDonald's for the value meals. This time, though, I shook things up -- because I'm crazy-wild like that. (I even own Crocs!) This time, I ordered not two McGriddles but one McGriddle, and one Sausage Biscuit.

That was probably the start of the downfall that led to my tipping the locksmith. I shouldn't have pretended not to be a Routine Guy, because we are all Routine People. We are all people who thrive on routines, who love things to be the same day in and day out. No matter how much we say we'd like things to be shaken up, we are lying. And I'm no better than the rest of you.

Well, I'm a little better than some of you -- you know who you are -- but not in this area. I'm a routine guy, too. I like my routines. I like to get up and have each day work a lot like the day before: when I go to work and when I come home and the route I take to work and the radio I listen to and what I do when I get to work (not much of anything) being the same day in and day out.

I say I don't -- I propose doing things differently and shaking things up and trying new things, but that never works out well for me. The effects might be immediate, like the time I gave up drinking soda for a month and ended up putting on five pounds because I tended to substitute chocolate milk or shakes for diet soda. Or the effects might be more distant and harder to read, like when I order a sausage biscuit instead of a second McGriddle and thereby end up losing my keys.

I think one led directly to another, and led me, also, along a path that had me going through yesterday's garbage while wearing my nicest, newest shirt, and I'd like to avoid doing that again. (I'd like to avoid going through garbage regardless of what I'm wearing.)

After I ordered the biscuit, things went all to Hell. First, when we went into work on Saturday, with my biscuit and McGriddle, the Babies! wouldn't settle down like they usually do. Instead, Mr Bunches kept sneaking out of the office they play in and trying to get into another office, where there's a decorative violin that he really wanted to play with. So I had to keep getting him away from that, and I eventually distracted him by letting him play with the little sailboat made of seashells that I'd bought as a souvenir in Florida two years ago.

While Mr Bunches broke that, Mr F alternated between getting himself hypnotized by the lava lamp in my office -- he stood by it and hummed for about 20 minutes straight, and I'm pretty sure he never blinked -- and trying to grind into the carpet all the pieces of Pop Tart that Mr Bunches was breaking up for him to grind into the carpet. So I had to give up on what I'd tried to do in the office (I was trying to blog) and instead organize my office.

That might seem like a good thing, but the fact that my office was organized was itself a change of routine; I'm not used to having the office be organized, and I'm not used to trying to keep it organized. That would pose problems as the week went on, but in the short run, it was responsible for me not eating lunch on Saturday.

I didn't eat lunch on Saturday because we went to the zoo with my dad, which meant that immediately after I left the newly-organized office with the newly-Pop-Tart-dusted Babies!, we had to run home and pick up Sweetie and then stop for gas for the drive to Milwaukee. I was so disoriented by the biscuit and organization that I stopped at the first gas station we went by, the one by our house, and that gas station had no good food to eat for lunch, not even one of those kind-of-okay gas station sandwiches, so I had to make do with just a bag of chips and a chocolate milk, which threw me off even more and left me hungry when we were at the zoo.

But by then I couldn't eat anything because by then we were not that far in time from when we would be going to my second-favorite burger place, Kopp's, in Milwaukee, where we were taking my dad for dinner as part of his birthday present. By the time I got really hungry, at the zoo, we were close enough to dinner that I didn't want to spoil my appetite for a Kopp's burger and onion rings and ice cream, so I didn't snack on anything and we went to dinner there, but the dinner there was late enough that I wasn't able, when we got home, to go grocery shopping like I'd planned to do, so I decided to do that the next day, Sunday...

... which was ordinarily the day I would do the grocery shopping -- and also the day I'd go to work with the Babies!, but this week I'd altered the routine and taken the Babies! on Saturday to the office, and I wanted to keep the office and groceries on the same day, because that would be less disruptive of my routines than all this other flipping-around and biscuit-substituting, only it didn't work out that way.

You can probably see exactly how this leads to losing my keys -- it's a pretty standard story. We've all been there: go grocery shopping on Sunday, plan to stop at Wal-Mart, but don't because the Babies! are tired, and they're tired because you went grocery shopping at a different time than usual so it's more crowded than you expected, and because they're tired you head home instead of stopping at Wal-Mart and then later that night end up having to go to Wal-Mart anyway because Mr F broke the baby monitor in their room and you really don't feel like the Babies! are able to sleep through the night without some monitoring because they'll probably choose that night to throw the TV through the window and escape so you go back to Wal-Mart later Sunday night and get a baby monitor, thinking that at least you've gotten your errands done for the week but you haven't, because on Monday you go work out later at night than usual, so you're kind of tired on Tuesday when you realize that on Tuesday evening you've got to go for a ride with Sweetie and The Boy to figure out where The Boy's rugby game is on Friday, because you're going to go meet Sweetie there at the game after work on Friday, and she wants to know how to get to the field before hand because she doesn't trust The Boy's directions, so you go to find the field in advance and you have to stop at Dairy Queen for ice cream for Sweetie and The Boy, only you go to a different Dairy Queen than you usually would, and then on the way home you stop at Wal-Mart, because Sweetie needs to pick things up and you're wondering why you couldn't have picked things up Sunday when you were there, but you go anyway and try to buy a light for the yard but Mr Bunches takes that out of the cart and you don't realize he did that until you get out to the car, so you didn't get the one thing you intended to buy at Wal-Mart, which you can't focus on because it's late and you've got to give the Babies! their bath at about 9:00 p.m. and you don't get to bed until late and then Wednesday you get up and you've got to get dressed but because you were busy the night before you didn't put away your laundry like you planned to, so you've got to wear the green shirt that really is kind of a winter-y shirt and it's a little too warm for it today, but you wear it anyway and instantly you're sweating in it but it's too late to change because you're already late for work -- late even for you, and you usually don't get there 'til 8:30 or so, but you're going to be later than that, so you just wear the green shirt and figure you'll make the best of it and you do until you come home and realize that Sweetie has made the fancy-sandwich dinner that night, instead of the Tuesday night it had been planned for.

I know, I know, we've all been there. But in case you're wondering how that all -- especially the sandwiches and green shirt -- add up to lost keys, I'll tell you.

My ordinary routine when I come home is to come in, be greeted by Mr Bunches opening the door for me, and then set my stuff on the counter while I talk to Sweetie. We then eat dinner, clean up, and I then go change out of my work clothes and play with the Babies! or go work out or something.

But Wednesday, yesterday, I got home and Mr Bunches didn't greet me at the door; he was preoccupied somewhere inside, so I had to let myself in. Then, when I got in and found him, I also found out that Sweetie had made Tuesday's dinner on Wednesday. We plan our meals a week in advance, and Tuesday I'd planned that we would have fancy sandwiches and soup -- fancy bread, fancy meat (roast beef), and soup. (I called it Fake Panera night.)

We didn't have that Tuesday, but we did on Wednesday. The sandwiches were ready, the soup was ready, and we could have sat down and eaten, except that I was still wearing the green shirt that I didn't want to wear in the first place, and it was itchy and sweaty because the weather was warm.

I said I was going to change before dinner, and did that, and we ate dinner, and then after dinner, instead of cleaning up right away like I'd usually do, I took the Babies! outside in the yard to play with them for a while. When I came back in, at 8, Sweetie pointed out that I hadn't cleaned up at all, and I had to start doing that before giving Mr F and Mr Bunches a bath at 8, like I try to do.

I cleaned up, and then Mr F wanted to read his book, so I did that, too, and then Mr Bunches pulled the sour cream stunt, so I gave them a bath and put them to bed and hoped for the best, vis a vis the sour cream, and then went to bed.

This morning, I finally got the karmic reward for all that routine-busting that began with the ill-advised decision to order a sausage biscuit on a Saturday. At 8:10, as I was getting ready to leave (for the job I'm supposed to get to at 8) I asked Sweetie if she'd seen my keys.

She hadn't.

I had my work keys, and my cell phone. They'd been sitting on the counter, where I pretend I don't set them because officially we don't store things on the kitchen counter. But my car keys were not there.

They weren't hanging on the hook on the chalkboard.

Or on the tray above the hook.

Or on my dresser.

Or on my other dresser.

Or on Sweetie's dresser.

The keys were not in any of those places, and they were not in my dirty clothes basket, under my dresser, in my pants from yesterday, in my drawers, in my shoes, under my bed, under my dresser, in The Boy's room, in the Babies!' room, in the bathroom, behind the toilet upstairs, on the kitchen counter, under the microwave, in the Babies!'s toy bin, under the living room couch, behind the desk, under the family room couches, in the play room, in Sweetie's car, in the garbage, or in the recycling bin.

They weren't in any of those places twice -- which is how many times I checked them all (except the garbage.)

By then, it was 8:30, and the change in routine had led me to forget that I was supposed to have a phone conference at 8:30 -- I'd remember that at 9:10 -- and I was resigned to the fact that I'd have to do... something about this.

Mostly, what I did was try to figure out who was to blame. I managed to place blame on the Babies!, who I'm pretty sure flushed the keys down the toilet (Sweetie's guess was buried them in the cat litter). I also placed a little blame on The Boy, for playing rugby and for possibly having taken my car keys when he left this morning, maybe as a belated April Fool's Joke. Middle got a little blame because she had come home from college last night to go to a doctor's appointment today. Sweetie took a little blame for me not having put away my laundry yet -- if she wouldn't do the laundry so fast it would not be sitting in front of my dresser possibly serving as a repository for keys that may have dropped into them off my dresser.

There was also a little blame left to give to Duke University, which won the NCAA Tournament and thereby got me a Duke T-shirt bought by The Boy, a shirt which came yesterday and which I stopped to admire en route to changing out of my green shirt, and even some blame for the car dealer who sold us the car five years ago and didn't give us a spare key.

After all that blaming, surprisingly, didn't turn up a key, I located a locksmith who makes house calls, and then gathered stuff from work so that I could actually work from home while waiting for the locksmith to come; I didn't have the ability to just take Sweetie's car because she had to take Mr F to the doctor to see if he had an ear infection, a development that, while depriving me of the car, allowed me to also put a little blame on the doctor, in this case because he was able to see Mr F today; if he'd had the decency to be too busy to see Mr F today, I would've had a car and Sweetie would've waited for the locksmith.

The locksmith, when he came, was polite and didn't laugh at me or anything. He just told me it was $142.50, and I got out the cash that Sweetie had left for me. I had $150, in 20s, 10s and 5s.

"Do you have change?" I asked him.

"I've got a 10 in my truck," he said, and I was left to wonder what kind of guy has, in a truck, everything he needs to break into and make ignition keys for any car, in about 30 minutes, but who doesn't have change?

I gave him $145. "Keep the change," I said. "Consider it a tip." I don't know whether or not you're supposed to tip a locksmith, and if so, how much, but I couldn't do anything else, anyway, and I didn't want him to think that I was expecting him to come back with my $2.50.

I guess no matter how many times I congratulate myself on the creativity that leads me to put Dracula's Lament on my "Running Playlist," or the spur-of-the-moment-ness that lets me decide Heck, no, we're NOT having corn dogs tonight, I'm a creature of habit, and $2.50 is a small price to pay to learn that lesson for once and for all.

$142.50 is a larger price to pay, of course, and of course I'd rather not have paid anything to learn that lesson. Because the more money I pay as a result of life lessons, the less I have to buy McGriddles with, and if there's one thing I've really learned from all of this, it's that under no circumstances should I ever not buy two McGriddles again.

This Is Why I Hate People:
It's not just a way of life -- it's also a blog and a Twitter.

There's no "Down... To Go" because you get three songs from my iPod, anyway. (3 Good Things From 4/14/10)

I'm "working" from home today... and in a bizarre twist, I actually spent most of the day... pleh... working. Here's 3 Good Things from yesterday to help get me through that traumatic experience.

And just like yesterday, I'm going to deliberately shift my focus from the stuff I do with the family to other areas that also generate good things. Like good music.

I have an Upbeat playlist that I keep on my iPod, full of songs that put me in a good mood pretty much every time I listen to them. I use those songs, sometimes, on the way into work or when I get up or on the way home from work. There's 63 songs, total, on the playlist -- but here's just 3 Good (Musical) Things from that list; I've focused on songs that you wouldn't expect to be on there -- and three that I listened to yesterday, as it turns out.

1. Internet Love Song, Tom Milsom:

I stumbled across that song one day about two years ago, and was so entranced by it that I immediately went and downloaded his album -- Awkward Ballads for the Easily-Pleased. It's the only album I own that has a trilogy of songs about a maybe-dead cat.

I put this song on the Upbeat playlist for two reasons: 1. The ukulele, and 2. "Circumflex underscore circumflex."

2. Hell, Squirrel Nut Zippers:

This song makes the list because I'm not done with swing music, even if the rest of society is (for now.) And also because I used to sing along with it until one day Sweetie told me I sounded like Ricky Ricardo when I sang along with it. So now I don't sing along with it as much -- but when I do, I try deliberately to sound like Ricky Ricardo.

(Also, this is a superfun song to sing to the Babies! while you're bathing them.)(Chill out; they don't understand the words.)

3. Streamline, Newton.

There's no reason I should like this song, which I was introduced to via a Jimmy Fallon Pepsi commercial: both Jimmy Fallon and Pepsi make my teeth feel worn down.

, the song just hooks me in. I don't even want it on the Upbeat playlist -- I added it and then regretted it because I don't want to like this song. Every time it comes on I try as quickly as I can to hit the next button but I never do it fast enough and then I end up listening to the song and spending the rest of the day humming it.

Curse you, Jimmy Fallon! (Also, he's pretty funny in his standup on his show.)

Travel, Leisure, Entertainment network

I like to travel, but I don't like to spend money. And I don't like to have a lot of hassle when I travel. And I want to do tourist-y things when I travel, but I don't want to get rooked like most tourists do.

So traveling could be pretty complicated for me - -trying to arrange cheap or free, uncomplicated, off-the-beaten-path-but-super-popular travel opportunities.

COULD BE, but isn't, because I use the Leisure Community's travel,leisure,entertainment network: a website that helps plan, talk about, and promote traveling through a variety of means: you can view photos and videos of trips people have taken, you can get news on free or interesting travel opportunities, you can even join specific groups for the kinds of traveling and tourism you want, trading tips and stories and meeting like-minded people.

It's social networking for people who want to social network with a purpose - -and that purpose is traveling. Join me there -- and maybe join me at my next destination!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I like the line "The evidence before the Court is incontrovertible." (3 Good Things From 4/13/10)

Operation: Organization is still a go -- look at that picture taken just this morning!

Today, as a break from stories about the Babies! and Sweetie, I'm focusing on 3 Internettish Good Things. These are some of the ways I spend my day when I'm not playing Bust It and eating leftover casserole:

1. The webcomic "Escape From Terra." I'm never sure, in the end, how I find things on the web. I just stumble across them, generally about four years after the rest of you do. (I'm really excited about this Youtube thing I just discovered...) About two weeks ago, I came across Escape From Terra, a web comic that caught my eye as a sci-fi serial in the vein of the Lensman books. Since I like sci-fi serials, I gave it a shot, and I'm hooked. I read a few pages each day, and I'd read more but I have at least pretend to work.

You can find the first strip here.

2. Dan Savage's Blog. I'm a big fan of Dan Savage (as you probably already know) and I am disappointed, each week, when I finish reading his column because I know it's another week until I get another dose of his wit and wisdom.

Was disappointed, that is -- past tense, since I found out he has a blog and posts pretty much daily on that, giving previews of letters and his views on the news. More Dan Savage is good for society.

Read it here.

3. Dirty Jobs Films: I have a rooting interest here -- I know some of the people involved, and I'm helping write a script for an upcoming movie -- but Dirty Jobs Films would deserve props even if I didn't have an extremely-tangential-but-hopefully-going-to-make-me-a-billionaire connection to them. Their movies are original, biting, creative, funny, and at least 13 other adjectives.

Check them out here.

Also, Ross Bigley (pictured) sent me all his movies and I've been meaning to watch them, but I'm still 3 seasons behind on Lost, and I also have to watch 9, and I recently decided that I'd let Sweetie send back The Informant to Netflix even though that means I'll probably never watch it, so I'm getting around to it.

115 down, 10,630 to go: We're supposed to get our hard drive back tomorrow, so I'll have my iPod back, too. Until then, I'm going on "Memory and Things I Thought Of Because Of The Russian President."

Yesterday, getting ready for work, the Russian President was interviewed by George Snuffleupagass and part of the interview told how the first album the Russian President had bought was The Wall, an album he'd saved up for months to buy. I heard that on the same day I heard that Roger Waters was going to mount a new tour of The Wall with new staging, which makes me sad because I want him to do a Radio KAOS tour -- I never go to concerts, anymore, not since I got kicked off the stage at a Hooters concert in the early 90s -- but if I'm not going to go to a concert, I'd rather not go to Radio KAOS than not go to The Wall.

All of which is a long way of introducing The Trial, my favorite song from The Wall:

I know at least four judges just exactly like that.

Pringles = gambling? Who'd've thought?

Are you a gambler? Sure, you are. You gamble all the time -- everytime you turn on the TV, you gamble that there's something good on. Everytime you eat Pringles you gamble that they won't kill you dead.

Why not do a little real gambling, for real money, without even paying anything up front? Impossible? You say? Possible, I retort -- thanks to the listings on this Casino Blog I found. The No Deposit Bonus Blog finds you reputable online gaming sites that let you start gambling for free -- maybe a little $5 chip for signing up, or maybe five thousand bucks in free casino cash.

Yep: Free money to gamble with. Can life get any sweeter than that? Maybe -- if Pringles stop killing people.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Sixty-Four

64. Make spray bottles work when tilted.

Here is my artist's recreation of an actual person using an actual spray bottle:

And here is my scientifically-accurate diagram of the inside of a spray bottle:

And here is that scientifically-accurate spray bottle, when tipped a little to spray -- something that always happens, since you always hold the bottle above the surface you want to spray with the liquid:

And here is my novel, scientifically-accurate solution:

Why is it always up to me to think these things up? And why am I not rich yet?

Prior entries:

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

Claudius wanted to be the first man to reach the stars... but it was murder to get there. Read
Eclipse, the haunting sci-fi book from Briane Pagel. Available at and on your Kindle.


What about "Operation: Organization"? (3 Good Things From 4/12/10)

Today's my dad's birthday. And, as Sweetie notes, also our cat Stormy's birthday. Send them both a card; we'll sort them out by which ones smell like tuna. Here's the 3 Good Things I've got from yesterday:

1. "Nice." Last night, Mr Bunches wanted to go for a ride, so I gathered up Mr F and took the Babies! to McDonald's for dinner-and-playtime. There was another family there with a 2 year old boy and a 3 year old girl. The 3 year old girl took a shine to Mr Bunches, playing with him for a while, but also liked Mr F -- she came over to him at one point and patted his hand and smiled and said "Nice!"

2. My office remained clean and organized for the first 24 hours. I need a catchy name for my goal to keep my office neat and organized. Something like Project: Organized. Only catchy, and not dumb.

3. It rained. That's not ordinarily a good thing, but yesterday it was -- because I'd planned on going out in the yard and continuing the yardwork I started Sunday night, raking out flowerbeds and stuff like that. But with the rain coming down, I had a free night. I like when Nature and I are on the same page. (Even though that's almost never.)

114 down, 10,631 to go: Sweetie's been using my iPod all this week, for hard-drive related reasons; our external hard drive, which has all our music stored on it, is in for repairs. Sweetie didn't know that no hard drive meant that when she updated her iPod it would wipe out most of the songs on there with no refilling, so when she tried to do that, she ended up with only 9 songs on her iPod. My iPod has everyone's playlists on it, so she's adopted mine this week. That means two things for me:

1. It's harder for me to think of songs to list on here, and
2. My iPod is going to have permanent echoes of Rick Springfield songs on it.

To help combat the Springfieldization of my iPod, I'm giving you, today, Two Thousand Places by The Polyphonic Spree: This is one of the songs that helped me quit smoking, nearly six years ago, because it's very inspirational, and to quit smoking, you've got to be good, you've got to be strong... but you probably don't have to actually be two thousand places at once.

This is the other song that helped me quit smoking, in case you were wondering.

If you read this post, you may get the impression that I kind of like free stuff.

Free stuff! Free Stuff! Free Stuff!

Whew! Breathe into a paper bag. Slow down. Think of stuff that's not exciting, like work...

I got all excited for a second there because I heard about the redesign or relaunch or re-something-ing of the Coupon Kim site, and I went to check it out, and there's a whole section devoted to free stuff I can get online.

Cool free stuff, like free cheddar cheese popcorn, free books, even free goat cheese, which you wouldn't think I'd like, but I do, since we had it on a pizza once, and it tasted great. Who'd have imagined, goat cheese on a pizza? What a world we live in!

And that world includes the revamped Coupon Kim site. Here's the welcome screen:

So you'll know what you're looking at when you go there, and you will go there. Not because I command it (I haven't perfected the mind control aspect of this blog yet) but because you want free stuff and to save money, right?

Coupon Kim does that with their printable and online coupons, their grocery deals, and their free stuff. I've been browsing around there this morning (my boss thinks I'm doing research) and I have yet to find a store I'd like to shop at that doesn't have a coupon on Coupon Kim's.

That was a confusing way to put that. What I meant was that Coupon Kim's has coupons for every store I can think of, and I can think of a lot of stores. Dozens. I'm amazing that way.

There's no sign-up, no fees, no registration: just coupons and savings. You can, though, get an email anytime a new coupon is added, so you could just be sitting around at home minding your own business when bangzoom! you get word that Barnes & Noble just added a coupon and next thing you know you're saving 30% off on a new book.

Whew! Again... breathe deep... boring stuff... boring stuff.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thinking gets in the way of progress. (3 Good Things From The Weekend)

I wish I got to ease into the week -- I've only had two court hearings this morning. All this work leaves me hardly any time to do what I usually do in the office. Here's the 3 Good Things that are keeping me positive as I face a new five days of work:

1. Free Day At The Milwaukee County Zoo: We went to celebrate my dad's birthday on Saturday, and he suggested taking Mr F and Mr Bunches to the Milwaukee Zoo for their "Free Family Day."

Despite the presence of everybody in Milwaukee, the zoo was a lot of fun -- we saw the penguins (which Mr F wanted me to get for him so he could hold them) and the aviary, and looked at rhinos and elephants and some giraffes, and a whooping crane (about which, Mr Bunches said "Quack quack" and Mr F labeled a "duck"), and a sea lion swam right up to the glass while Mr Bunches watched, prompting him to say "Meow," as a guess for what a sea lion might say, and, most importantly, we finished up the day with a trip to Kopp's -- my favorite stop in Milwaukee.

2. I got my office organized... again. I brought the Babies! with me to work Saturday morning, planning to let them watch movies and play while I did actual work. But they had other ideas, trying to roam around and get into files and otherwise create mayhem, so we converted "actual work" to "organizing daddy's office," boxing up old files and sending them to storage and clearing off countertops and instituting a new system of "In" and "Out" boxes. I love the feel of a well-organized office. Now, if only I wouldn't have to do so much stupid work there.

3. Time to read a bit on Sunday afternoon: Having spent the entire day Saturday running around, and having gone grocery shopping on Sunday with the Babies! (Shown at right napping on the way home from the zoo), I finally, Sunday, got to spend some time hanging out pretending to listen to Oldest talk while actually reading two back issues of The New Yorker on my Kindle. That was fun and relaxing enough that it bumped out my original choice for number three on this list.

Number three on this list was going to be my discovery that we, as a society, have now progressed to the point where we have microwaveable instant pork rinds.

It's true. We have microwaveable instant pork rinds. And when Mr Bunches, Mr F and I saw them at the grocery store, we did not stop to think "Wait, pork rinds are supposed to be microwaveable?" Or even "Does it make a difference if pork rinds are fresh or not?"

Or even "What is a pork rind, exactly?"

No, we didn't stop to think any of that, because thinking gets in the way of progress, and progress in this case is microwaving pork rinds. Nobody will ever accuse me of standing in the way of progress. I bought them and microwaved them at home and they were delicious.

113 down, 10,632 to go
: I put it on my newest blog, This Is Why I Hate People, today, so I'll put it here, too: It's Let's Dance To Joy Division by The Wombats:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

He may have abs and cutoffs, but I have a new nickname for underwear... (Sweetie's Hunk of the Week, 57)

Each week, I sit down to do this with but one thought in mind: should this be the week that I write about a Hunk in entirely limerick form?

Then I answer that thought this way: "Mr Bunches, put your pants back on!"

The 57th Hunk of the Week is:
Robby Benson!

You Don't Know Him Without You Have... man, I don't know. For the past two weeks or so, we've had Beauty And The Beast more or less on continuous play; it's Mr Bunches' favorite movie right now, and that's probably why Sweetie had Robby Benson on the brain, but you can't really say you know him from a cartoon, especially a cartoon where he looked like this:

Which, come to think of it, kind of looks like Robby Benson, now:

And even a little bit like Robby Benson then:

But even if he kind of looks like the Beast, if the Beast were to play Michael Landon in a TV biopic, you can't really say you know Robby Benson from Beauty And The Beast. You might know him from Ice Castles,

But, first, who would admit they watched Ice Castles, besides Sweetie, who considers that one of the top movies of all time (ranking it right up there with Miss March and That One Movie Where They Use A Motorcycle In A Ballet), and

Second, why is that picture of Robby Benson in his underwear just about the only picture you find when you search for "Robby Benson Ice Castles?"

Is Ice Castles some sort of slang for underwear and nobody told me? Are "tighty-whities" now called Ice Castles?

Because they totally should be.

When I asked Sweetie where I might know Robby Benson from, other than those two movies, she said "Ode To Billy Joe," which I heard as Ode To Billy Joel, and I immediately thought "Billy Joel had a movie made about him? And nobody has ever made a movie about Piano Man? Or about Scenes From An Italian Restaurant? I mean, I know nothing about Billy Joel's actual life, other than that for a while there I thought he had married Princess Leia, only that was Paul Simon, but aren't either of those songs better source material for a movie than Billy Joel's actual life?"

Then I realized I misheard her and thought "Who's Billy Joe?"

Robby Benson was also in The Godfather Part II, which I never bothered to see. I saw Part III back when it first came out to theaters, and didn't like it or hate it. Then I finally saw The Godfather on DVD a couple years back, and it was bad. Aside from [SPOILER ALERT BUT UNLESS YOU'RE A FILM BUFF OR 75 YEARS OLD YOU WON'T WANT TO SEE THE MOVIE SO IT DOESN'T MATTER] the part where the guy gets shot at the toll booth, it really was slow-moving and boring. And I couldn't understand Marlon Brando at all. That's not acting; that's talking with your mouth full.

So we're back to you don't know about Robby Benson unless you're Sweetie.

Thing That Makes You Go Hmmm About Him: This is an actual fact Sweetie shared with me about Robby Benson yesterday:

His full name is Robin.

To which I said:

"That's kind of weird."

We then had this exchange:

Sweetie: "I know. I thought so."

Me: "It's kind of a girl's name."

Sweetie: "Yes, it is."

Me: "I know about Robin Williams, and Robin Hood, but still... Robin is a girl's name."

Sweetie: "I know."

So you can see that the romance has not left our marriage.

Also, Robby Benson has been married for 27 years and has two kids, Lyric and Zephyr. I thought for a second there that those were names of the muses, which I would then say was okay because Robby Benson is in the arts, but they're not. They're just words he liked.

Celebrities: Just name your kids regular names. People named "Zephyr" start out a couple steps behind the rest of us in achieving things in society, you know. People named Zephyr, and Kal-El, and other weird names.

Addition: Sweetie also reminded me, after she read this, that she'd mentioned that Robby Benson auditioned for the part of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. That would've made for an interesting kind of movie: Luke leaves Tatooine and heads off with Han to deliver Artoo to the Princess, only to get sidetracked by an ice-dancing competition three parsecs from the Kessel Spice Run, and then wins by batting his eyes a soulful manner.

Reason I Thought Sweetie Liked Him:

Because of this:

Which is a picture of Robby Benson taken back in the 1970s or something, when it was totally cool to take what were essentially child-porn pictures, like that one, or like this one:

Which is the picture that comes up when you Google Ice Castles, so what I assumed is this: Sweetie, having watched Beauty and the Beast 100 gazillion times since we bought it, got nostalgic for the time when she was the only person, ever, who watched Ice Castles, and googled it, got Robby Benson in his underwear, and fell in love all over again.

Actual Reason Sweetie Likes Him: "When I was little I liked him, and Randolph Mantooth and Mark Spitz... I've always been a sucker for guys with dark hair and blue eyes. Plus, Robby Benson just has that innocence about him."

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Actual Reason For Liking Him: I am notably lacking in the departments of (a) blue eyes, (b) dark hair, (c) hair, and (d) being named Mantooth.

But that latter one is actually a plus on my side. Also a plus? I've never worn anything like this:

On the minus side of my scoresheet are that I've also never worn this:

or this:

But I'm thinking of breaking out that outfit for our anniversary next month. Rrrwowr!