Wednesday, December 30, 2009

In Which I Get A Free Minute

What a whirlwind of a week this has been so far.

My new job, or what I've experienced thus far through training, is going well. I had one day of company orientation on Monday, and yesterday began my job-specific training. I'll be doing classroom training for another week or so, and then I'll begin training on the phones. I should be ready to go on my own in about a month. A month seems like an awful long time to be training, but if I remember right, that's about what it was when I trained for my last call center job. There is a lot of software to learn, not to mention the rules and policies of the company.

In actuality, things have been pretty boring. It's mostly been a bunch of paperwork and corporate blah-blah-blah that everyone has to endure when starting a new job. My classmates are all relatively pleasant to be around, except for this one chick who insists on finishing everyone's sentences, even if she doesn't know what they're talking about.

As far as the other people in my class, there's another woman who has no front teeth and whistles when she says words with an "S" in it. There's also a woman who smells like she bathes in KFC fry grease, and a girl my age who has a black belt in some martial arts or karate. The only other guy in my class is pretty quiet (much like myself), but is a re-hire to the company and won't be with the class for very long.

The only thing I can think of that happened that is at least semi-noteworthy is something that our orientation leader said during the session that I found to be quite humorous.

She was talking about the company's policy on dress code. Even though my office is a call center environment, we still have to dress business casual. Despite how clear it was outlined in our handbooks that she had us following along with, she felt the need to demonstrate.

"Now, for the ladies," she said, "business casual means a blouse or shirt that isn't low cut or revealing. Dress pants or slacks are fine, just nothing that shows your underwear or anything if you bend over. Nobody likes to see tramp stamps at work."

The other people in the class thought this was pretty funny, and as I was taking a moment to chuckle politely, I looked around at the rest of the people in the room. Everyone was laughing, except for the woman sitting next to me. When the laughter died down, the orientation leader looked around the room, too, to make sure that everyone was okay to move on.

"What is it?" she said, seeing the frown creep across my table-mate's face.

"I," she said, her voice indignant, "have a lower back tattoo. Or, as you called them, a 'tramp stamp.'"

The orientation leader's face flushed red. She stammered and tried to recover, but ended up just quickly changing the subject. The offended table-mate sat there and stewed in silence for a while, and never really got over it. I didn't think it was that big of a deal, but then again, I don't have a tramp stamp.

I'm sorry I haven't had the time to visit any of your blogs this week, but I do hope to get a chance to get caught up later tonight, or possibly tomorrow. It's going to be hard to find some free time while I'm going through training, but I promise I'll at least make it around here to keep you all posted.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. It is all greatly appreciated! It's awesome to know I've got such a great group of people who have my back.

Monday, December 28, 2009

In Which I Start Over

Today is the first day of my new job, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. I'm more excited than I am nervous, so I suppose it all comes out in the wash. I'm just glad to be moving on, glad to see the job I used to have getting smaller in smaller in my rear-view mirror, glad to be starting something new that is going to challenge and motivate me.

Working around other people will take some getting used to, considering I've worked from home for the past two years. I had worked in an office environment for a while prior to that, so I'm sure after a few days I'll fall right back into that old routine. I'll just have to remember that I can't burp or fart any time I feel like it, that excavating my nose will have to happen in the bathroom, and the watching of Internet porn will have to wait until I get home. So many sacrifices, but it'll be worth it, I know.

---

Christmas at the BAG household went well. I let The Boss sleep in for a while, but once she rubbed the sleep from her eyes, it was present time. We didn't have a very extravagant Christmas this year, but the gifts we did get for each other were meaningful.

I got her the book "Evermore" by Alyson Noel, because she is on a huge vampire kick (much like the rest of the country, it seems). She also got a couple different types of candy, some traveling accessories for a trip she's taking in February, and a distinctive coffee mug that she can keep at work.

She got two big presents this year. The first big present was something that she (not so subtly) hinted at one day when we were walking around the mall in town:




She also got these:




We saw these while trying to find her some winter boots earlier in the month, and she couldn't stop talking about how much she liked them after we had left. I offered to buy them for her, but she said no, that they were too expensive. I was able to get them on sale a few weeks later, and she couldn't have been more surprised.

I will say, though, that a man looking in the Women's aisle in the shoe store does illicit some pretty strange looks, especially from the people who work there. Never again will I shop for women's shoes by myself.

The Boss did very well in what she got for me, too. I got some small gadget-y type stuff and a ton of sweets and candy. My two big gifts were two things that will come very much in handy, both pertaining to my writing. She got me "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk and E.B. White, which, if you've never heard of it, is pretty much a must-have for any writer. I also got the 2010 Writer's Market, which will be very helpful in finding the right places to send proposals to once I get some of my better pieces of writing fine tuned.

We had a family Christmas later in the afternoon with my parents, my sisters and their husbands, and my niece and nephew. My niece, at six months old, is crawling like a pro and can stand up all on her own. My parents got her this walk-along toy, thinking she'd use it once she got a little older, but she ended up surprising us all by walking (albeit clumsily and slow) across the living room. It was quite amazing to see.

---

Well, I'm off to work now. Wish me luck.

Happy Monday, folks.

Friday, December 25, 2009

In Which It's Christmas

For me, Christmas is about many things.

It's about putting up and decorating the tree.




It's about baking cookies to bring to parties.




It's about sending and receiving Christmas cards.




It's about hiding The Boss' presents.




It's about spending time with family.




It's about watching Christmas movies (and sometimes making fun of them).

It's about being thankful.

---

Merry Christmas, everyone. I'm thankful for each and every one of you. I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday, and for those who don't celebrate Christmas, well... I hope you enjoy your Friday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In Which I Show You How

I'll get to the main part of this post in a bit, but I first want to talk about the events of the past couple of days. A lot has happened.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you've probably seen me talk about interviewing for a job, and then getting a job, and then quitting my old job. All of that happened within a span of less than 36 hours, and it couldn't have happened at a better time.

This past Saturday, after finishing my shift at my (now) old job, my supervisor told me that they needed me to come into the corporate office for my next shift, to go over some "procedural" things. I told him that Tuesdays aren't good for me, and he replied that I wouldn't be able to work again until I made it into the office. That seemed fishy to me, but I was shot down when I pressed for more information.

I've been getting mixed feelings from my supervisor and my boss for a while now, and I've felt in the back of my mind that they've been looking for something, anything that I did wrong, to have a reason to fire me. My boss has a history of being vindictive like that, and where I've one-upped him a few times over the years, I got this gut feeling that this "procedural" meeting was going to result in my getting a pink slip.

And then Monday happened. I interviewed with a recruiter, and then later in the morning, with the manager of the department in which I'd be working if I got the job. Both interviews went very well, and late Monday evening, I got a call with a job offer. Of course I took it, and quickly drafted a resignation letter for my old job so I could beat them to the punch and avoid having an involuntary termination listed on my resume.

Yesterday, I went into the office with all the equipment I used to perform my job at home, walked into my boss' office, and told him in a tone of voice that offered no contest that I quit. I set my box of computer equipment on his desk, handed him my resignation letter, turned on my heel, and left the building. I was in there for less than a minute, and it was one of the best moments in recent memory. My satisfaction with that job had decreased severely, to the point where I literally dreamed of what I would say when I would finally get a chance to quit.

I start my new job on Monday. I won't be working from home anymore, but I think that is a good thing for now. Obviously, with a marked decrease in the time spent at my desk, you'll probably see slightly less of me around the Interwebs, but I'll try my hardest to keep up. This blog has become very important to me, and I don't want to lose that... which brings me to my next subject.

On Monday, I was featured on the Blogger-run blog called Blogs of Note. If you are unfamiliar with it, Blogger features one noteworthy blog per week-day. These blogs are about anything, you name it, it's been featured (pretty much). Now, I didn't get a write up at all, just my blog name and URL, but that was enough for me. I'm stoked that I got mentioned, and I look forward to meeting and getting to know all the new visitors I've had in the past few days.

And now, on to the real part of this post...

---

Okay, quick show of hands: How many of you (that celebrate Christmas, of course) still have presents to wrap?

That many of you... Wow. Glad to see I'm not alone, because now I don't feel so bad. Procrastination is an art, and I've got it down to a science.

To some, the holidays wouldn't really be complete without the mad dash to get everything done at the absolute last possible minute. But me, though? I think it would be really nice to just get this shit done with already. And so, I've come up with a way to save your ass.

For the first time in BAG history, I've made a video with myself in it. To be truthful, all you can see of me are my arms and hands, but you can hear my voice! And see my desk! Seeing me isn't the point of the video, though. It's not a spectacular video, but it is what it is. In the clip below, I present to you a simple gift-wrapping technique that is quick and easy, and uses only four pieces of tape.

Enjoy!




Granted, this technique does take a little practice, but it's a fast and simple way to wrap presents. I realize that it's not a particularly "badass" skill to have, much less to display to others, but it's better than knitting or baton twirling, I guess. I learned this technique from the gift wrapping booth that my high school band association ran every winter. It was a huge fundraiser for us, and I had no choice but to learn how to wrap quickly and efficiently.

After making the video and uploading it, I found out that there are tons of other videos out there that show you how to wrap presents. I know you'll all watch mine instead, though, right?

Hope it helps!

Monday, December 21, 2009

In Which I Surprise Even Myself

It had been a harrowing week, thanks to the court proceedings that drew me to testify against a feared member and leader of the local mob branch. True to the story of my life, I had been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and found myself scared for my life. And yet I agreed with the D.A.'s request to testify, and wound up with a 24-hour security detail to protect me from any mob low-life who might try to silence me.

I sat in the darkened living room in a safe house in an uncomfortable easy chair, looking at one of my heavily-armed security guards asleep on the couch. There was another guard by the front door, and a third by the back door leading out towards the patio. By all rights their presence should have made me feel more at ease, but I felt just the opposite. I jumped at every small noise I heard.

When the knock sounded on the front door, I just about popped out of my skin.

The guard asleep on the couch sprung up, and had his sidearm leveled at the door and his finger on the trigger before he was completely upright. The guard at the door had done the same, sliding silently off of his chair and into a crouch. The third guard at the back door hid around the corner, only the tip of his rifle visible.

There was a second round of knocks. The hollow sounds seemed almost annoyed at being forced to wait. The guard at the door motioned for me to get up. My chair creaked as I stood up, and I walked quietly to the door.

"Who is it?" I called out.

"US Marshalls, Sir," a stern voice replied. "We need to talk to you. Urgently."

"Let's see some identification," the first guard said. "Hold it up near your chest."

The first guard leaned towards the door and looked through the peep hole. Seemingly satisfied, he dropped his sidearm. "All clear," he said to the other guards in the room. "It's legit."

He opened the door, and two large men stepped inside. He held up his badge for me to see, and indeed it was legit. His partner did the same, shifting the weight of the gym bag he carried to his right hand. I acknowledged them both with a nod.

"The name is Watts," he said, and stuck out his hand. I grasped it and shook it firmly.

"What's this about?" I asked.

"Sir, our surveillance team keeping tabs on the man you testified against this week discovered plans to launch a large tactical assault against this house later tonight. We're not sure if this is threat is real, but we can't risk waiting it out to see. It's been decided that it's no longer safe for you to stay here. We're placing you in protection."

"What do you mean? Witness protection?" I stammered, my skin turning cold.

"No, not witness protection. We were given orders to place you in our Wetness Protection program."

I blinked. Did I hear him correctly?

"We've got your supplies right here," he said. Turning to his partner, he reached for the gym bag. "Simmons?"

Simmons reached down and picked up the bag, and handed it to Watts. He grabbed the zipper and pulled it open. Pulling the large flap back, I looked inside. There were at least a dozen adult-sized diapers stacked neatly side by side.

"This... this doesn't make sense. Surely you misunderstood your orders."

He laughed arrogantly. "Sir, I assure you that I heard my orders correctly, and frankly, you've got no real choice in the matter."

"But... wetness protection? That doesn't even make sense! How is that supposed to help me from getting shot up from the mob?"

"That's up to you, I suppose. Orders are orders. Now, come on. We've only got a few minutes. Hop to it."

He shoved the gym bag at me. I caught it at my chest and stumbled back a step.

"You've got to be kidding. I'm not changing into a diaper. This is ridiculous!"

Watts sighed, and turned to Simmons. They seemed to communicate through a series of shrugs and nods. Watts turned back to face me, and then grabbed me by the shoulders.

"Grab his pants!" he cried. I struggled against his strong grip, but couldn't free myself.

Simmons leaped forward and began unbuckling my belt. I kicked and thrashed my legs.

The guard who had been sleeping looked down at me, but offered no help.

"Having problems with incontinence?" he asked, as if genuinely interested.

"Get affordable wetness protection now, with new adult diapers!" Simmons said cheerily with a booming voice. "Discreet, not bulky under your clothing, super absorbent and non-constricting!"

Watts spoke up. "Available now, in a variety of sizes, at your local supermarket or pharmacy!"

---

I woke up, gasping, and sat up. I had fallen asleep the couch, and the TV was on still. I blinked my eyes to clear the sleep from them, and sure enough, the tail end of a commercial for incontinence products was on.

Damn overactive imagination.

Have a good Monday, folks.

Friday, December 18, 2009

In Which I Compare

Unless you've been living under a rock your entire life, you've probably seen the classic Christmas television special, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. You know, the original stop-motion version, with Burl Ives as the cheerful snowman with a banjo. As I'm sure it is with many, many others, it's pretty much a holiday requirement around here to watch it at least once. In fact, since we have a copy of it on VHS, The Boss makes a point to watch this movie a few times each Christmas season. I put up a stink about it sometimes, but deep down inside, I don't mind watching it. I grew up watching it, and it doesn't ever seem to get old.

This year was no different. It aired on TV a little while ago, and when The Boss and I were watching it, something occurred to me. And if you know me at all, whenever I say the phrase "something occurred to me", you know that it's just another way of saying that the maniacal wheels in my head started turning.

We were sitting there, watching Rudolph's father shame him for being born with a glowing red nose (which was probably his own fault, for sleeping with that doe in Tijuana a few years back, after too many tequila shots with that asshole Comet), and I realized that a lot of the characters reminded me of other people.

And so the idea for this post was born.





Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Look-A-Likes:



Sam The Snowman looks like:




Santa looks like:




The Boss Elf looks like:




Hermie The Wanna-Be Dentist looks like:




Yukon Cornelius looks like:




Charlie-In-The-Box looks like:




Dolly-For-Sue looks like:




The Abominable Snowman looks like:





Wilford Brimley




Billy Gibbons (from ZZ Top)




Guy Fieri




Carson Kressley




Monterey Jack (from Rescue Rangers)




Simon Pegg




The Wendy's Logo Girl




Dave Grohl





So there you have it. The Boss and I got a huge kick out of this while we were watching it and I was pointing out who all the various people look like. I doubt we'll be able to watch the movie again without thinking about this, but I'm okay with that. It sort of gives it a new aspect.

I'm left with one question, though. What other Christmas classics could this be done to? Any thoughts?

Have a good weekend, folks.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In Which I Make A Memory

Today is December 16th. This date is important to me for a few reasons. For one, it marks the anniversary of the date that The Boss and I started dating. It also is the date we got engaged, on our one year anniversary. As of today, we've been together for five years. I find it hard to believe that it has really been five years, but here we are. As they say, all that time has flown right by. I thought I'd share the story of the day we got engaged. It's quite a story, so this entry will be a bit long. Just bear with me, it's worth it.

Back in 2005, as we approached our one year anniversary, we decided to take a few days off from work and go enjoy some time together away from home to celebrate. We made reservations at a hotel in North Conway, New Hampshire for the night before our anniversary, and reserved a log cabin in northern New Hampshire for the night of our actual anniversary.

We had a great time on the first day of our mini-vacation, and as we retired to our hotel room that night, I checked the weather report for the next day. My stomach dropped when the meteorologist started talking about snow. Lots of snow. Heavy, wet snow, to be exact.

The Boss, much like myself, was upset when she heard the news. We had paid a lot of money to rent the cabin for the second night of our vacation, which at this point was non-refundable. Not wanting to waste it, and really looking forward to that night in a log cabin (one of The Boss' dreams), we decided to get an earlier start and try to get as far as we could before the snow started falling.

When I woke up early the next morning, I looked out the window to see a steady snowfall, and an inch on the ground already.

We quickly packed up and got in the car (which was a 1996 Saturn SL1, by the way). This was before the days when GPS navigation units were commercially available, so we had printed up some Google maps to guide us along. Anyone who has relied on those directions before should understand how nervous I was, having to trust them to get us there safely.

The cabin we rented was in Pittsburg, New Hampshire, which isn't all that far from the Canadian border. The directions that we had told us it should take about two hours from where we were in North Conway. I knew that the snow would slow us down a bit, so in my little four-cylinder car, onward we went.

Three hours into the drive, we were only about halfway there. The steep, curving, twisted mountain roads would have been miserable on a summer day, but add in heavy, wet snow and driving wind, it was simply, absolutely horrible. My car was working hard, between the steep grade of the road and the draw off the engine for the windshield defrosters, I had to pull the car over a few times to cool the engine down before it overheated.

The irony was not lost on me. It was definitely weird to be worried about overheating in the middle of winter.

At hour number four, I had to pee. Badly. We were the only car on this one stretch of road for almost an hour now, so I pulled over to where another road turned off of it to take a leak. Leaving the car running, I sprinted down the secondary road a bit, and unzipped. I was in the middle of melting a decent sized patch of snow  in the shape of my first name when I heard a loud noise behind me. Startled, but still unzipped with my Disco Stick in my hands, I swung around to see what the noise was.

It was a car. A minivan, to be exact. With a bunch of young kids in the back.

I had no time to react. Facing them, with my hands on my junk and STILL PISSING IN THE WIND, in the middle of a snowstorm, on the side of a mountain in the middle of freaking NOWHERE, they drove past. Through the windows I saw five slack-jawed faces. They made it about six feet further down the road before the taillights flared, and they came to a stop. I finished peeing as fast as I could and ran back to my car, zipping up on the way.

The Boss was already laughing when I jumped back into the car, and pulled away from the side of the road. What were the odds? I mean, seriously. What were the odds of that happening?

Hour number five came around, and we pulled off the main road to gas up and get some snacks. I let the car rest for a little while before getting back on the road. It would be getting dark soon, and I hoped beyond hope that we'd get to where we were going before then. The snow was still coming down pretty hard, with a good seven or eight inches on the ground to compete with.

After six hours on the road, we finally got to the cabin. We checked in at the main office, and had to follow a plow truck to the actual house we had rented for the night. They hadn't plowed the road to it yet, because they were waiting to see if we'd actually show up. They were surprised we did.

We were surprised we made it alive, without getting lost even once.

It was mostly dark when we got there, so we didn't really get to see what the cabin looked like from outside until the next morning. It was nice and cozy on the inside, though, and we promptly got changed into more comfortable clothes and flopped on the couch to relax. It had been one hell of a stressful drive to get there, but we made it.

We had enough time to watch most of a movie before the power went out.

Due to the brilliant design of whomever built the house, just about everything ran on electricity. The heat, the lights (obviously), the water pump that delivered water to the cabin... We wanted rustic living, well, we got it. With the power out, we couldn't see well enough to make the dinner that we had brought supplies for. Other than the raw ingredients, we had a few crackers and pieces of fruit that we had taken from the continental breakfast. Being in the middle of nowhere, there was no place remotely close that we could drive to for food, and besides... It was still snowing.

Fortunately, there was a gas fireplace in the living room. We were able to keep warm by huddling near it and covering up with blankets from the bed. Oddly enough, as inconvenient as it was, shivering in the cold in the dark, with rumbling, hungry stomachs, it was romantic.

As my gift to The Boss for our anniversary, I had written her a song (she would later choose to walk down the aisle to this song at our wedding). I had just enough power left on my laptop battery to play the song for her, and as she listened to it on a set of headphones, I got up and pulled out the ring box I had been carrying around in my jacket pocket all weekend.

When the song ended, she looked up at me. She was about to say something, but stopped short as I got down on one knee, holding the ring box in my hand. And there, in front of the flickering light from the fireplace, I proposed.

I'm not going to tell you exactly what I said when I proposed, as it's deeply personal and something I'd like to keep between The Boss and I. I will tell you that I didn't have anything planned out to say, because I was sure I'd either forget it or stumble all over the words.

And of course, as you all know, she said "yes".

We sat in the dark for a little while longer, and she started discussing wedding plans. I couldn't help but smile. She told me she didn't expect this at all, and couldn't believe that I had kept her engagement ring (which I picked out on my own) under our bed in a lock box for the past six months. 

The power never came back on that night. We went to bed a few hours after I popped the question, taking all the blankets we could find and huddling together on the bed in the master bedroom. The power came on at some point in the early morning. We took our time getting our things together, and made decent time getting back home (compared to the six hours it took to get up there, the three hours to get home seemed like nothing).

The rest, as they say, is history.

Happy Anniversary, my wife. It's been a tumultuous five years, but with such an epic start, I wouldn't expect anything less.

P.S. For those interested, click here to listen to the song I wrote for The Boss.

Monday, December 14, 2009

In Which I Don't Remember

It's not often I have a guest post around these parts, but today I've got a guest post by Lauren Leto. If you don't recognize her name, perhaps you'll recognize the site that she had a major part in building: Texts From Last Night. She's compiled a list of the geekiest texts found on the site just for me.

If you've never heard of TFLN, I seriously suggest you check it out. It's a hilarious site that lists text messages sent in from people around the country (and world) about, usually pertaining to their alcohol or sex-fueled nights of debauchery. It is pure genius, and I'm honored to host Lauren's guest post today.

(Just so you know, the numbers in parenthesis before the text is the area code from where the text was sent. See if there are any from your state!)

Check it out:

---


The Geekiest TFLN Texts

(compiled especially for The Badass Geek)
by Lauren Leto, moderator at TextsFromLastNight.com, BookNerding.com and MomsMsgs.com)

(703): She asked the class if starwars was based on a true story...

(704): I dumped him because he's never seen star wars. I'm certain I did the right thing.

(773): i just spent an hour trying to convince my blind date that star wars is better than star trek. help me

(713): All the good ones are taken. All that's left is the Harry Potter geek or the asshole in the corner. I think I'll settle for Harry Potter.

(408): the star wars geek is hitting on me, and is talking about his lightsaber. need back up NOW

(314): why was he too nerdy?
(919): he was a tetris block for halloween

(520): i nerd-gasmd. plain and simple.

(717): he just asked me if he could show me what he wanted to do to me using his action figures. where do i find these freaks?

(631): But you know it's love when you find brass knuckles in the same box he keeps his Naruto action figures.

(585): So guess who had sex in a Ghostbusters sleeping bag.

(360): I wish i could make my toaster dance like they do in the second ghostbusters. But i dont have ectoplasmic goo. Or a toaster.

(614): If you want her to think you're a true humanitarian, you may want to stop referring to Hands Across America as "the Ghostbusters 2 of fund raisers."

---

The TFLN site just got book deal, and you can pre-order it by clicking here. Feel free to check out Lauren's other sites (as linked above), too. The Moms Msgs site is similar to TFLN, and is based off of funny or awkward messages sent via text/e-mail/Facebook/etc. from Moms and Dads across the country.

Thanks for the guest post, Lauren!

Happy Monday, folks.

Friday, December 11, 2009

In Which There Is Nothing Else Better To Do

The Boss and I had some time to kill the other day, so we kicked around the CVS here in town. We had about twenty minutes to waste, and what better way to spend it than by looking at cheap Christmas gifts, shampoo, and analgesics?

After perusing the seasonal section filled with things like jumbo-sized universal remotes, fuzzy foot massagers, musical snow globes, electric shavers, perfume or cologne gift boxes, photo frames that let you record a message, and pens with whimsical Christmas characters on top, we made our way over to the aisle the housed all the wine and beer.

While The Boss looked over the wine selection with interest, I poked fun at the wide selection of boxed wines they had. I previously had no idea there was that much demand for variety in the world of boxed wine, but I know better now.

Just past the wine was the beer. They had your standard fare of bottled and canned beer, and not being much of a beer drinker, I wasn't really all that interested in what they had. To pass the time while The Boss looked over the wine, I started counting how many different brands of beer they carried. I had counted up to eight brands when this caught my eye:




How subtle. Ping-pong balls in the same aisle as the beer. How very convenient for the Beirut players in the area. There was another display rack a little further down the aisle:




We don't exactly live in the sticks anymore, and there is much more to do around here than there was where we used to live. But, apparently there are enough people around here who feel there is nothing else to do but play beer pong.

A few days later, The Boss and I stopped at a grocery store to pick up a few things. As we passed the refrigerated beer section, something caught my eye. I doubled back and saw this:




This town really is obsessed with Beer Pong. How did I not know this before? I grew up here. At least I know where to go to get supplies for my next tournament.

Have a good weekend, folks. I know I'm going to (*wink, wink*).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

In Which I Don't Make The Rules

If you stop and think about it, there are a lot of rules that we as a society follow. Some of these rules are unspoken, things that we learn inherently from watching other people's actions and reactions, but a majority of them are things we are instructed to do or not do. Don't walk on the grass. Don't fart in church. Don't give whiskey to children.

Rules, rules, rules.

We're so obsessed about being politically correct and not stepping on anyone's toes and not upsetting anyone, so there are rules for everything. There are probably even rules about having rules. And those rules probably have a set of rules governing them. Don't even get me started on the inevitable exceptions to these rules. That's a whole other brand of vodka.

It occurred to me lately, in the twisted way that my mind works, that some of the rules that have been ingrained into our human nature have more than one application. The more I thought about it, the more I found that there are some rules that are universal.

For example:
"Look, but don't touch." - Spoken to children in museums or any place where there are breakable items. Also applies to observer's in an operating room, House-Of-Cards building competitions, and strip clubs.
"No jumping on the couch." - Orders given to children playing on the furniture. Also applies to celebrities with a tendency for irrational behavior being featured as a guest on popular afternoon talk shows. 
"Always wear clean underwear." - Advice given by mothers to their children, specifically warning them about wearing clean undergarments in case they are in an accident. Also applies to drug mules and hookers. 
"Don't talk with your mouth full." - A rule imposed on anyone who likes to both eat and talk. Also applies to those currently engaged in oral sex. 

I'm sure there are many other rules that could be considered universal that I didn't think of. I mean, there has got to be more. This is just all that my sleep-deprived mind can put together right now.

What can you come up with?

Monday, December 7, 2009

In Which I Evolve

This past weekend I went through a bunch of folders on my laptop, getting rid of old files or duplicates that I no longer needed. The occasional file purge is good to do sometimes, and it keeps everything I have strategically organized free from clutter. As I was clearing stuff out and listening to that neat sound my computer makes when I empty the recycle bin, I came across the old headers that I used to have up here on my blog.

My long-time readers will remember these, but I've had the current design up for a little while now, and it's the only design a majority of my newer followers have seen. Since I'm always one to poke fun at myself, I thought it'd be neat to show the evolution of my blog's header design over the past 22 months.


Circa February 2008:



Circa April 2008:



Circa May 2008:



Circa August 2008:



Circa October 2008:



Circa January 2009:



Circa February 2009:



Circa February 2009:






The current header has been up there the longest, since May 2009. It's interesting to see how things have changed aesthetically around here, when the normal focus (for me, at least) is making sure that my writing is progressing in the right direction. I'd like to think it has, because most of you are still here.

When I look back at the old headers, I'd have to say my favorite was "The Godfather" one. I had a blast making that one, and I've often thought about reverting back to it. And either I am the world's biggest procrastinator or just insanely forgetful, but I still owe Lola a custom-made shirt with that design on it as her prize for winning my first fall contest back in 2008. I don't know how I've gone this long without remembering to get that out to her. Lola, if you're still interested in the shirt, let me know.

That's all I've got for today. Happy Monday, folks.

Friday, December 4, 2009

In Which I Switch Gears

Ages upon ages ago (truth be told, it was just over a year ago), I got this idea to start a short-fiction project. I called it Short Story Thursdays, and my plan was to post a new 500-word section of a story once a month on a Thursday. If you look through the archives, you'll find the six or seven posts that I wrote for it. I made a separate blog for it, but as time went on, the story (and it's author, to be honest) lost it's steam. The last section of the story was posted way back in April, and I had all but forgotten about it until last month.

When I was about halfway through the NaNoWriMo challenge last month, I thought about resuming work on the project. I had enough on my plate with trying to keep up with the word count for the NaNoWriMo challenge, so I kept the idea on the back burner of my mind. As the month of November wound to an end, it hit me: Why not open up the project to others to contribute to?

And so it came to be that Fiction Five Hundred was re-born.

The project now is as it was when I started it: write a fictional story using no more than 500 words. The only difference is that I'm opening it up to anyone who wants to contribute. It's a challenge, there is no doubt about that, but it is a useful tool. This project is more for others than it is for me (though I will be writing for the site), and I'm only mentioning it here to help try to spread the word about it.

I've got a couple of different authors already up on the site, and there is some pretty great stuff. There are more stories due to be posted as the month progresses. If you are at all interested in writing fiction, I strongly urge you to check out the site and consider participating. If you know of anyone who likes to write fiction, too, well, send 'em on over.

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I'll leave you for the weekend with this, yet another version of the "Cartoonize Yourself" ads I found recently:




Out of all the various ads I've seen based upon making a cartoon out of oneself, this is by far my favorite version one yet. I'll let you guess as to why (HINT: There are two big reasons). You can see the other "Cartoonize Yourself" ads I've written about here, here, and here.

Have a good weekend, folks.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In Which I Am Just Plain Weird

Early last week, I got sick. The Boss had been fighting a cold for over a month, and it seemed that I had evaded her germs for as long as I could. I presented with the same symptoms as she had, with the runny/stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, and fever. It was fun stuff, let me tell you. Lucky for me, I don't stay sick for too long when I get colds, so I'm just about over it now.

When I was right in the middle of it, when the congestion was at it's worst, I would spend a couple hours a night on the couch, so The Boss could fall asleep and get to a deep sleep, before I would come to bed. I'm a pretty loud snorer as it is, so when you add in even a touch of congestion, it gets to be pretty unbearable. The Boss had likened the sound of my sick-snoring to a non-lubricated chainsaw with dull teeth trying to cut through thick flaps of wet leather. With a herd of angry cows and a mouth-breather in the background.

Clearly, I'm dead sexy when I'm sick. As if the snot and the boogers and the drool and the sweat wasn't enough.

After I tuck The Boss into bed, I would set an alarm on my cell phone for some point in the wee hours of the morning, and try to fit my six-foot-tall frame on our five-foot-long couch. I usually ended up spread eagle on my back (that's what she said!) with one leg dangling off the couch on the floor, and the other up on top of the back cushions. I'll sleep for a few hours until my alarm goes off, at which point I'll stumble to the bedroom to finish the rest of the night in bed.

But first, a pit stop at the toilet.

Now, we have two lights in our bathroom: one large bank of lights over the vanity, and a second in the exhaust fan mounted in the ceiling over the toilet. Most nights, having just woken up and not wanting to blind myself from the 15,000 mega-watt bulbs over the vanity, I usually turn on the light over the toilet. It's got a nice low-wattage bulb, and it's the perfect brightness for the middle-of-the-night piss.

On the night in question, I stumbled to the bathroom and switched on the second light like I had gotten in the habit of doing. As I stood there with one hand occupied with keeping aim and the other hand tasked with scratching various places, I thought that the light coming down from the ceiling above me was more... heavenly than normal. I was in the middle of the longest midnight piss of my life, and all I could think about was how I was bathing in this soft, ethereal light from the Gods. In this hazy state of half sleep, half consciousness, I became convinced that the light actually was coming from Heaven.

I started to panic, thinking I was going to take a closer walk with Jesus while urinating and scratching my ass. What was that thrumming sound? Was it the sound of God talking to me? Was it the sound of Him passing through the ceiling to join me in the bathroom? Was Jesus going to give me a chance to cover up before He just barged right in? Would it be rude of me to ask Him to wait a minute while I finished?

In my panic, the hand responsible for my aim became shaky, and I started to piss on the floor.

Feeling the warm spray of urine on my feet and shins was the wake-up call I needed. I fully woke up and came quickly to my senses, realizing (of course) that I had been hearing the rumble of the exhaust fan, and the light was just... a light bulb. As I knelt down on the floor to clean up the mess I made, I made a mental note to make sure I'm fully awake before taking a leak next time.

Any more religious experiences like this, and we'd have to get some more paper towels.