Monday, August 30, 2010

In Which I See A Sign

One of the things I notice when I'm driving around town is signs. Not just roadsigns telling me about the speed limit changes or that there is a sharp curve ahead, but the signs for business and such. The writer in me checks for spelling mistakes or to see if they are using proper grammar, and whenever I see a sign that fails in either of those two categories, I have to resist the strong urge to pull over and tell the proprietor of their mistake.

For example, there is a store in a town a few miles west of where I live that primarily sells seafood. You'd think that because of that, and especially because of the fact that we live in a state well known for it's seafood, they'd know how to spell the names of the various types of seafood that they sell. You'd be wrong. On one side of their hand-painted sign they spelled lobster correctly, but on the other side it is spelled "Lobester". What gets me even more steamed (pun intended) is that this sign has been like that for ages.

There's a mom-and-pop restaurant just up the street from my apartment that has been advertising lately for "Cheery Whoopie Pies". Now, unless they've developed a whoopie pie that has something in it that affects your mood, I'm going to assume that they misspelled the word cherry. Marijuana dispensaries are only just beginning to form in the state of Maine, so I don't think they're selling pot whoopie pies just yet.

Then there's the Rite Aid in town. Their sign doesn't actually have any spelling or grammar mistakes, it's just poorly thought out. Their sign reads "Agency Liquor Store" on one line, and "See the benefits with Wellness Plus" on the other. It's like advertising for discounts on fast food at the local Over-Eaters Anonymous meeting. 

The one sign in town that takes the cake is the one in front of a church that I drive by daily on my way to work. They try to make their signs clever and original (around Easter they put one up that said "Jesus loves His Peeps"), but more often than not, they fail. They had one up recently that said "Man's desires are temporary. God's love is Forevrer."

They had that sign up for three weeks. Three weeks. I don't know how they didn't catch their mistake, or how no one ever told them about it before it was taken down. I tried ignoring it as I drove past it daily, but I couldn't. There were a few times where I contemplated pulling over and walking up to the sign to fix it myself, but The Boss wouldn't let me. They finally changed it the other day ("Want to make God laugh? Tell him about your future plans!") which is mildly better, if only for the fact that every word is spelled correctly.

I don't feel that my noticing the error in these signs is OCD at all. Is it too much to ask for local businesses to put intelligent signs up outside? All I'm saying is that poorly spelled or poorly organized signs reflect badly upon the business.

Have you seen any signs lately that stuck out to you?

Happy Monday, folks.

Friday, August 27, 2010

In Which I Get A Facelift

Hello, my Internet friends!

Yes, it's true. I have returned from my week-long vacation-induced blogging hiatus a wee bit early. I just couldn't stand being away from you all for that long. While my two guest bloggers Writer Ninja and Didactic Pirate have done an admirable job in keeping this blog afloat in my absence, I missed writing here. I hope you missed me, too. Even if you didn't, please say that you did to make me feel better about myself, okay?

For those of you not reading this post in a feed reader, you've probably noticed that things look a bit different around here (if you are reading this in a reader, get yourself on over here!). One of my secret projects for this past week was to revamp the design, which I had long since grown tired of. The old design had been up on the site for about 15 months, and is a lifetime in Internet years. So tell me... what do you think? If you have any specific comments about your likes/dislikes, or if you have problems viewing the site on different browsers (although I did test thoroughly on IE/Firefox/Safari/Chrome), please let me know. 

I wish I had a crazy story to tell you about something that has happened this week. I don't. I've pretty much stayed at home the entire time. It's been nice to be away from work, and it's been nice to get some major writing done. Being able to devote some serious time to writing has really helped my writing project to get off the ground. As of this writing (late Thursday night) I am a tad over my goal at roughly 9,100 words. I've been able to keep up with my 3k/day goal pretty easily, despite my own doubts. I had a rough sketch of the story I wanted to work on, but upon loading up the file I found that it had been corrupted when my computer crashed a few weeks back. I had to start over from the beginning, but I think that challenge was good for the whole process. It really got me thinking about where I wanted to take the story. When I have it fleshed out a little more, I'll share some of it here.

That's all I've got for now. It's good to be back. It feels like home.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In Which I Smell Something Fishy

Remember that post I wrote a while back about seeing a pirate at a department store? Well, I've got one better for you today. The Didactic Pirate is here to share a story about something that happened to him recently. Enjoy!

---

Hi, readers. I’m The Didactic Pirate, and I’m grateful to The Badass Geek for letting me guest post this week. I know I shouldn’t feel performance anxiety on this post – after all, The Geek and I clearly have a ton of stuff in common. For example: you’ll notice that we both have blog names that start with “The.” Which clearly demonstrates that we’re each incredibly… specific. It’s an exclusive club, we dudes who are so concretely awesome we need the definite article in front of our names. We actually have secret weekly meetings with The Hulk, The Rock, and The Iron Chef. There’s coffee and bagels.

Despite such a reaffirming bond with The Geek, I was blanking last weekend on what to write about for this post. Nothing funny or even moderately interesting had been happening lately, and I started feeling stressed and worried that I was going to squander such a cool blogworthy opportunity.

And then I had a situation happen. Today.

I went to Rubio’s this afternoon to get lunch for my family. For those living in the more uncivilized states of the union, Rubio’s is a Mexican fast food place that specializes in supremely awesome fish tacos. (When I first moved to California, I thought the whole notion of fish in a taco sounded vomitrocious. Then I had one. Now I can’t move out of San Diego because I’m too afraid of ending up in a town where Rubio’s doesn’t exist.)

It’s a family restaurant, in a nice, harmless neighborhood: a Starbuck’s, a Quizno’s, and a Borders bookstore are in the same plaza. (See? Harmless. Except for the ongoing soul murder of mom-and-pop businesses at the hands of monster franchises. I mean harmless aside from that.)

So I drove down to Rubio’s, placed my order at the counter, and then stood off near the condiments to wait.

Something seemed strange. Off, just a bit. It took me a minute to figure it out, and then I put my finger on it.

The restaurant, in the middle of the afternoon, full-on reeked of pot.

You know how sometimes you get a whiff of something, and you wonder if your nose is playing tricks on you? Because the smell you’re smelling makes absolutely no sense in your context? Like smelling a cheese enchilada in the middle of church? Or smelling after-sex at Grandma’s house?

This wasn’t that. This was totally pot. I know what pot smells like. From, uh, books.

I looked around the dining area. I suddenly felt like a vice cop. There was a family eating in one corner, with two toddlers and a baby in a high chair. (A shifty looking baby…). A pair of grandparents off to one side sitting with a ten-year-old kid. (Did that Grandma have glazed eyes? Yes! Cataracts? Or Mary Jane afterglow?)

And in another corner… four teenagers.

Aha.

Well, of course! I thought. Look at those kids hunched together at their table. Look at them! Hooligans! Teenage hooligans are secretly getting stoned right here in this family-friendly restaurant! How dare they come into this family-friendly establishment in a cloud of green smoke and load up on fish tacos??? Keep your munchies in your own home, rotten teenagers!

I was about to walk over there and DEMAND to know why they thought they could bring their pot-soaked selves into my Rubio’s. (And when I say “walk over there and demand,” I mean walk RIGHT past them and give them a VERY stern look before leaving.)

Then I saw that all four of the hooligans had a book open in front of them, and were talking animatedly. Their books all looked similar.

Bibles, of course. They were eating fish tacos and talking about God.

Huh.

This is a relatively new thing for me, this narc tendency. I don’t know what my deal is. I used to be a very live-and-let-live kind of guy. But something is changing, and I’m becoming increasingly suspicious of “wrong-doing,” which means I’m actually just becoming more judgmental. Which is just another way of saying hypocritical.

I’m 40, not 90. I may need to do a little self-reflection to get over myself soon.

Still…

To the mysterious Rubio’s Pot Smoker: blaze up that doobie in your home, youngster. Or I’m coming after you.

Monday, August 23, 2010

In Which We Are Tricked

Today is Day One of my week-long vacation, and instead of sharing with you the thoughts that plague my brain on a daily basis (and also to give myself a bit of a break), I've given the reigns over to my new friend and fellow blogger who... well... I'll let her introduce herself on her own.

---

After dreams of finally having a full week off, my vacation was mercilessly put to a halt when I got a call from my boss at work. Apparently, they needed some extra hands because many of my co-workers called in sick. Things like this just make me want to be that flight attendant who quit his job. Life hits you in the head with annoyances, you scream naughty words, and run away with style.

That’s how I would (preferably) roll, but life sometimes life takes twists that you can’t even imagine.

With that said, I have a tale to tell you from a little while ago.

It was mid-summer and jolted awake at three in the morning to a low drone of a voice coming from my living room. As the voice boomed louder and louder, I obviously became very panic-stricken. I cursed the fact that I was the only one in my apartment at the time. Not only was there that to worry about, but the solitary working phone (my cell phone) was in the kitchen charging. If I wanted to call the cops, I would have to sneak past the apparent home invader. After much mental deliberation, I decided to brave my mounting fears and I grabbed the biggest object near me.

It happened to be Stephen King’s epically thick Under the Dome novel. Win.

So, with my novel in hand, I fearfully tiptoed out of my bedroom and into the hallway by the living room. At that point, I thought if this home invader was not going to kill me, a heart attack sure would. As I tried to go towards the living room, I peered into it and I was able to hear the voice coming from within.

“Hungry…again…” the voice wheezed.

You may laugh now, but it scared the hell out of me. The voice was followed by throaty laughter and another proclamation.

“Me VEEEEEEEEERY hungry…”

Great. The ax murderer in my living room was illiterate and a cannibal.

At that point, I couldn’t take the panic-filled thoughts that ricocheted in my head, anymore. There was no way I was going to get to the phone without being caught by the perpetrator, so I had one choice left.

As quickly as I could, I clambered into my living space, flipped on the lights, and I found the source of the perpetrator’s voice. It came from under a mass of blankets on my couch. With some deft blows to couch, I tried to knock the home invader out. When I thought my job was done (and I beat the bloke to the best of my ability), I was horrified to hear more hoarse laughter emitted from under the blankets.

“That tickles!” the voice droned. “Do it again!”

What the…?

I took off the covers on my couch and I revealed the perpetrator...

It was my younger relative’s Furby they left at my apartment.

Its eyes fell out (from my beating) and its batteries must have been dying (to give the children’s toy such raspy voice). My over-active imagination never had a prouder moment. Other than that, I obviously felt embarrassed when I found out what the perpetrator was, but I am glad I didn’t call the cops on a children’s toy. At least it does make for good storytelling. Speaking of stories, this post is titled “In Which We Are Tricked.” I have been tricked by the Furby, but you haven’t been tricked yet. You see, the event above really happened to me, but some of the details were tweaked it a little bit to work for my evil purpose. You see, there is yet another twist to the tale:

I am not the Badass Geek. I am the Writer Ninja.

Got you.

Other than playing pranks on innocent (or not-so innocent) people like you, I run a blog called Writer Ninja. In that blog, I celebrate “obscure holidays,” or a phrase which here means, “A holiday recognized by Congress, but celebrated by no one.” I love to make snarky comments about the quirks of life (and annoying people). I also over abuse parenthesis (what a shocker!) and I like to describe what I am really doing when I write your posts using asterisks. *stares at you through computer screen with laser eyes*

Blog Inspiration of the Day: Badass Geek, I can never fill your shoes. Not even the metaphorical pinky toes of your metaphorical shoes. That’s how badass you are. It amazes me how you take all of this time to entertain us for no personal gain whatsoever and you just have a love for entertaining people. (Unless you are slowly but surely stealing your follower’s identities and selling them to the black market…) After all, you did put the “Badass” into the Badass Geek. *ponders* I might want to check this out. Not that I have ties to the black market or anything like that.

Today’s Obscure Holiday: Be an Angel Day. Hmm, let’s see. I lied to people and I accused Badass of being a black market employee. (He totally could be. I mean, just look at his mysterious profile picture. Those swanky shades spell trouble.) See Badass, that’s what I do when you are gone and you let me post. I ruin your reputation and create conspiracies about you.

Ha, now you know.

Random Fact of the Day: I really get annoyed at people who honk at other drivers excessively when there is heavy traffic. I mean, where in the heck am I going to go?

Keep on honking, buddy. I’m reloading.

KABOOM!

~Writer Ninja

So, I believe that ends my evil reign of the Badass Geek’s blog. It was fun to fool you (or not fool you) and I would greatly appreciate it if you would drop a comment (perhaps something about a prank you played, or somebody played on you). After all, I am declared tyrant of this blog for a glorious day.

By the way: Are you on team Ninja or Pirate?

Remember pirates, I have a five star. *pets five star and does not bleed* I am not afraid to use it. I know where you live. As a matter of fact, look behind you. Feel that breeze on your neck?

Fooled you again…or am I kidding?

My friend, life is a giant conspiracy theory.

---

I must say, she did a fair job of impersonating yours truly. I've got another guest post lined up for Wednesday, so stay tuned. I miss you all already.

Happy Monday, folks.

Friday, August 20, 2010

In Which I Question His Training

The other night The Boss and I stopped off at the grocery store on our way home from work. It was just a quick trip in to get a few things that we were out of, and I had no reason to think that it was going to be anything but an unremarkable experience. 

I was wrong.

Everything was fine up until the point that we brought our few items to the cashier at one of the express lanes. He looked like he was just getting acquainted with puberty, and was tugging mindlessly at a crop of struggling peach fuzz on his jawline. His hair was long and hung in his face, and every few seconds he would flick his hair back in a quick motion of his head. He wore an expression of apathy. I wasn't expecting great customer service anyways, but I gave up all hope when we approached his register.

As we came up and set our items on the belt, he switched his lane light off. 

"Sorry, I'm closed," he said in a weak voice.

I looked at him, then at the items on the belt, and then back at him. "You just shut your light off. Can't you just ring up the five items we have and then close things up?"

"No, I was supposed to close up a few minutes ago. I forgot until I saw you coming."

"Well, I'd really appreciate it if you could just ring up what we have so we don't have to wait in line at the only other register open, which as you can see has a rather long line."

He sighs and turns at the waist to look at the line at the other register. There are two other people in line with full carts of groceries, and one who is just getting her items bagged and paid for. 

"Fine," he says reluctantly. He keys something on his register, and starts to scan our items. He sets them down on the counter past the register, unbagged. "Your total is $11.93."

The Boss had swiped her debit card already, and looks at me, confused. 

"Can we get a bag for that?" I asked after a moment of inactivity from the cashier. I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was going to bag the items all at once after he was done ringing them in.

"You can't just carry them? You only have five items," he says with not a hint of sarcasm.

"I'd still like a bag for them if I could," I replied. "I don't think your boss would like if we just walked out of here with a bunch of stuff in our hands. He'd probably think we were stealing."

"I'm out of bags. Sorry."

I leaned over a bit. "What are those, then?" I pointed at a pile of plastic bags on a shelf to one side of him, clearly visible from my side of the counter.

"Oh, those." He looked at me blankly. Motionless. Not getting the bags from the shelf and putting them on the rack as he should.

"Can you at least hand me one of those bags and I'll do it myself?" I said at last, slowly reaching the end of my patience with this kid.

Wordlessly, he tears off one of the plastic bags and hands it to me. I quickly bag my items myself. The Boss stands there, incredulous and shaking her head. When the cashier holds out the receipt, she snatches it away from him.

"Thanks for your effort," she says curtly.

"Yup."

No token saying of thanking us for shopping. No bid goodnight. Just a noncommittal "yup." 

Unbelievable. 

---

This just goes to prove that a good blog post could be lurking around any corner.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In Which I Take A Week Off

Next week, I'm using some of my hard-earned vacation time and taking the week off. I haven't had a full week off from work since last September, when I was suffering through the worst of my allergy problems (if you are new here and haven't made it that far back in the archives, you can read this post {and the related posts linked within}, and then this post to get caught up). It's going to be nice to be away from work for a little while and get refreshed. There's just one problem.

I have no idea what to do.

Of course there are things I can do, like the list of things The Boss would like me to do with all of my free time. The only problem there is that all the things she'd like me to do require manual labor and sweating. Considering this week is my vacation, I think I'll pass on a majority of the hard work in favor of some relaxing and some "me" time.

One thing I know I'll be doing is writing. I haven't been able to devote a lot of time lately to writing, so that's going to be my major focus. I've got a couple of things I'm working on that I would like to make some headway with, including the story I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year. With lots of ideas floating around on scraps of paper and Post-It notes surrounding my computer, I'll have my work cut out for me. My goal per day is 3,000 words minimum, more if I can manage it. Fifteen thousand words in a week is pretty respectable, I think.

Other than that, I probably won't be doing a whole heck of a lot. I'm all out of ideas for things to do that don't involve lots of traveling (with only one car, I'll be chauffeuring The Boss to work and back daily) and/or money that wouldn't be too boring for one person to do. If you've got some ideas of things I could do, feel free to share them. If you've got a few bucks laying around with no plans for them, feel free to share those, too. If not, well, I'm sure I'll still have a good time. After all, anything beats working.

My vacation isn't just from work, either. I personally won't be writing here next week, but I've got a few guest posters lined up instead. I think you'll enjoy what they all have to share, and you'll have to wait until next week to see just who's going to be sitting at the helm.

Again, if you've got some ideas of what I can do to fill out my vacation, let me know. I'd be greatly appreciative.

Monday, August 16, 2010

In Which I Sin

Whenever I think of summers gone by, my mind inevitably drifts to the memories I have of going to summer camp. A lot of people that I've talked to who also went to camp on their summer vacations from school tell stories of adventures and freedom, and wear a smile on their face while they share their memories. 

Not so much with me.

I went to a Christian summer camp twice as a kid, and I hated it both times. Believe it or not, the fact that it was a Christian camp had nothing to do with it. I was a shy and awkward kid (in some ways not all that different than how I am now in some situations), and the thought of spending a whole week away from home, away from all that is comfortable and normal, well... it terrified me. My parents made me go no matter how much I begged and pleaded and bribed them. And even after telling them how awful of a time I had the first year, they made me go back the next year. 

They said it was for my own good. I say it was for their own good.

I barely slept during those two weeks for fear of being pranked while I slept. Some of the other boys in the dorm would creep around while the others slept, pulling stupid pranks on the weak and unsuspecting. I stayed awake to make sure they didn't try anything on me, like putting toothpaste on my forehead or putting my underwear out on the flagpole. There's nothing quite like the terror of laying still and wide-eyed in your bed, praying to the God that I learned about that day that they'd spare me.

Sure, there were times when things weren't so bad. I made a couple of shaky friendships with the other kids there like me, and we banded together whenever we could. You know, strength in numbers. The activities they had us do were alright, all things considered. There are worse things to be made to do than memorize Bible verses. Even though I didn't want to be there, I tried my hardest to fit in and make the best of it. And anyone who's been following this blog should know that when I start trying to fit in, things often go horribly wrong.

Towards the end of the week the second year I went to this summer camp, there was a game of two-hand-touch football. I got excited because football was something I loved and was pretty good at, so I asked if I could play. The other guys who were playing already looked at me like I was crazy, but ultimately agreed. I was assigned to a team, and things went great for a while. That is, of course, until one of the guys (the ringleader of the nighttime pranks) decided he was going to tackle me to end a play instead of the two-hand-touch rule.

We tumbled hard to the ground, dust flying into my eyes and mouth. Not expecting to be tackled, I dropped the ball. The Ringleader picked it up and started running away with it. I got to my knees, angry and embarrassed and frustrated that I lost the ball. Some of the other guys were laughing, and that only added fuel to the fire of my anger. I got to my feet and gave chase to the Ringleader.

As I was running after him, I yelled at the top of my lungs, "GET BACK HERE, YOU MOTHERFUCKER!"

Not the best thing to yell at a Christian summer camp.

I managed to catch up to the kid before he scored and threw him to the ground. I felt a bit of satisfaction when I saw tears welling up in his eyes as he picked himself up. It was my first taste of revenge, and at first it was great... but it soured all too quickly. My little tirade got me in trouble with the head counselor. I was scolded for using profanity and for being too rough with one of the other campers. He didn't listen when I tried to give him my side of the story, and for the rest of the week everyone stared at me like I was some kind of outsider. Considering where I was and what I yelled out in a fit of anger, I guess that's sort of what I had become. I was fine with that, though. I was finally left alone. 

It all worked out in my favor, anyways. My parents didn't make me go back the next year, and for that it was well worth being an outsider for a few days. Profanity, 1; Religious Camps, 0.

How many of you went to summer camp? How many of you hated it? Share your stories, good or bad.

Happy Monday, folks.

Friday, August 13, 2010

In Which I Warn

I was in the shower recently (as in this past week, not as in I only shower recently) and as I was polishing up the Family Jewels, I found myself reading the label on one of the cans of shaving cream The Boss has. It was pretty standard stuff, a list of ingredients that no one can pronounce, and the claim to leave the user with fresh, smooth, non-irritated skin. 

What caught my attention was the warning label, the things that companies are required to put on their labels these days to remove themselves from any liability from accidents caused by idiots. That way, if some numbskull decides to take a blowtorch to a can of Barbasol to see what would happen and winds up with a pirate-esque hook prosthetic, they can effectively say they told him not to and it's his own damn fault.

This particular warning label advised to keep the product within a certain temperature range, and to keep it upright. Don't submerge it in water, and discard it upon rusting. Do not expose it to extreme heat or extreme cold. Basically, use it for what it's supposed to be used for, and recycle the container when it's empty. Simple. As you'd probably wouldn't be surprised to find out, it got me thinking. If any product from shaving cream to Easy Mac can come with warning labels these days, why can't human beings?

The family of a woman suffering from PMS could definitely benefit from a warning label, as would anyone in a 100-foot radius of a guy with a temperamental stomach who just ate at Burrito King for lunch. It should be required that everyone's office favorite, Sweaty Guy (aka Guy Who Smells Like a Warm Onion), should have a warning label, as should the barista who always makes your coffee wrong, and the creepy guy who won't leave you alone at the club.

It could have even better uses, too. Got a kid with pink eye? Slap a warning label on 'em. Think that rash might be more than just dry skin? It's label time. Having a bad case of the Mondays? Perhaps a warning label for your co-worker's benefit would be in order. Life could be so much easier if we could only be forewarned.

I'm sure it would backfire, though. For example, my warning label would probably read: "CAUTION: Contents under pressure. Avoid poking in the stomach as gas release might occur. Nervous nose picker, internet stalker, and excessive sweat-er. Do not expose to events of social stress or public speaking, as rash displays of awkwardness might occur including unintelligible speech and spontaneous telling of inappropriate jokes. If you feel you have been overexposed, seek fresh air immediately and change your Facebook/Twitter/blog privacy settings."

Yeah, on second thought... Scratch that idea.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In Which I Catch a Crook

I always find it interesting that, when I'm just about ready to give up on trying to think of something new to write about here and do a re-post, something happens that just begs to be written about. This happened to me yesterday, while driving home from my parent's house after helping them with their bakery business for a few hours.

While on the road home, I got behind this dark green Mercury. After being behind the car for about a mile, I noticed that the driver was being very erratic. The car was all over the road, drifting from one side of the lane to the other, often crossing the yellow lines and making it about halfway into the southbound lane before jerking back into the northbound. The driver wasn't keeping a consistent speed, and often would slam on the brakes for no apparent reason. I kept a safe distance behind it and wondered what I should do.

Now, I'm the kind of guy who doesn't have any qualms over reporting an erratic driver. There is enough to watch out for on the road these days where I feel it's the responsible thing to do to let the police know if I see someone that is driving in an unsafe manner. I've reported many erratic drivers over the years, and I had a particularly bad feeling about this one. After making sure that what I saw wasn't just a temporary moment of distraction, and after seeing the driver exhibit more of the same unsafe driving, I called it in.

The dispatch officer was curt and professional. I described what I had seen and told them that I had been behind the car for a number of miles. I described the car to him, and he asked me to get the plate number.

I sped up a little so I could read it clearly. "9919 GY. Maine plates."

There was a slight pause. "Can you repeat that?" the officer asked. There was a sudden increase in tension in his voice that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

I repeated it again slowly, being careful to enunciate clearly.

"So let me be clear," he said with urgency. "This is a Mercury with Maine license plates 9919 Golf Yankee."

"That's correct."

"Okay, Sir, I'm going to ask you to take extreme caution and stay behind this vehicle. Are you okay with doing this?"

"Sure, I guess so."

"Good. I'm going to contact the Sheriff. Please hold."

Before I had any chance to respond, there was a click and then some hold music. I had about forty-five seconds to myself, my mind racing as to what I had just gotten myself into. Then, there was another click and the dispatch officer was back on the line.

"Sir?"

"Yes, I'm here."

"Good. Here's what's going to happen. I've given the Sheriff your number. He's going to call you and give you further instructions. Remember, safely keep pace with the vehicle and keep track of the names of the streets he turns onto if he pulls off the road you are on now. Are you comfortable with this?"

"Yes," I replied.

"Good. What kind of car are you driving?" 

"A gold Ford Focus."

"Thank you. Okay. I'm disconnecting now. Wait for the Sheriff to call and follow his instructions."

The line went dead. I didn't even have time to set my phone down before it rang. It was the Sheriff. I gave him information as to where we were currently, what landmarks we had passed to give him an idea of how soon we'd be to where he was located. Like the dispatch officer, the Sheriff was brief and to the point.

"Are you familiar with where the Post Office is, roughly a half mile from your current location on the northbound side?" he asked.

"Yes, Sir."

"I'm parked in that lot with my engine running and in gear, an unmarked white Dodge Challenger. Are you familiar with what my car looks like?"

"Yes."

"Great. When you approach the Post Office parking lot, drop back and flash your lights. Are we clear?"

"Yes, Sir."

Everything was happening so fast, I didn't have time to think about anything else. I checked my mirrors to see what kind of traffic was behind me. The Post Office would be coming up in about thirty seconds on the right.

"Good. Thank you for your help. I'll contact you if I need anything else." The line disconnected.

I dropped my phone onto the passenger seat and gripped the wheel with both hands. Just around the bend I could see the sign for the Post Office. The Mercury was still driving erratically, in similar fashion to when I first called it in.

We made the corner, and I saw the white Challenger. I hit the brakes and flashed my lights. Right on cue, as the Mercury passed the parking lot the white Challenger in the lot turned on it's lights and sirens. It's engine roared powerfully as it peeled out of the lot and took after the Mercury. I drifted to a crawl, but the cars behind me didn't protest. They clearly had seen the Sheriff take chase and were interested to see what had happened.

The driver of the Mercury didn't put up much of a chase. He pulled over a couple hundred feet down from the Post Office. The Challenger braked hard, pulling up a cloud of dust as his rear tires dragged into the sand on the shoulder. Almost before the car stopped moving, the Sheriff was out of his car with his gun drawn.

My heart dropped down into my stomach. Now about a car's length behind him, I took a wide berth around him and drove past. He tipped his head in my direction as I passed.

I have no idea what happened afterwards. I didn't really want to be involved any further if there was that much of a need to track down the driver of the vehicle to have a civilian keep pace with it, and then have the Sheriff draw his sidearm as he approached the car. Perhaps the car was stolen. Perhaps the registered owner of the car had a warrant for his arrest or is wanted otherwise. All I know is that I had done my civic duty, and I was getting the hell out of there.

I'll be checking the local police arrest records over the next week to see if I can find out what it was all about. It was a very intense span of minutes, and I have to say that the dispatch system worked very quickly and efficiently. From the time that I called to the time I passed the Sheriff with his gun out, less than five minutes had passed.

One thing is for sure... This takes care of my one good deed for the week.

Monday, August 9, 2010

In Which I Tell You

I couldn't have timed this post (and the one I put up on Friday) any better. My beloved computer caught a virus somehow, and I spent the weekend trying to salvage what I could. I ended up having to start fresh and erase everything off my hard drive, but I managed to copy a bunch of the important stuff like my pictures, music, and writing before the virus got to it. Let this be your reminder to back-up your files often, at least once a month. You'll save yourself the heartache of losing the stuff you hold dear and important.

After spending about 18 hours in front of my computer, reinstalling the operating system, drivers, and other miscellaneous software, I didn't feel much like spending even more time writing a post for today. The Boss was starting to forget what I looked like, having been hunkered down in my office all weekend, so having this post to come up with was a blessing in disguise. All I have to do is answer the questions you asked me from Friday's post. Here goes!

Aaron asked: Purely a selfish question based in envy and/or jealousy... How'd you get your readership so high? I keep a blog and feel pretty lucky to have 13 people drop by on a daily basis. It's kind of pathetic.
Well, it sure as hell wasn't easy. It has taken a lot of hard work and perseverance to be where I am now. It hasn't always been easy, and it hasn't always been fun, but the end results always make it worth it. Reading the responses and reactions from the things that I write is intensely gratifying, and it's one of the reasons I keep this going. If you are looking for tips on how to increase your readership, my best advice is to write. Write even if you don't feel things with your blog going anywhere. Don't interpret that to mean that you should write about everything; no one wants to read about what you had for lunch or how much things suck at work. Write hard, dig into your mind for those topics you don't want to talk about, and talk about them anyways. Comment ruthlessly on other blogs, but only if you've got something to say. If you can intrigue others by your comments, the readership will build itself naturally over time. 
Didactic Pirate asked: I second the question above your readership, but more than that: for those of us that are relatively new followers, how did you get your blog name? What puts the "Badass" and "Geek" into the Badass Geek?
You know, I don't think I've ever talked about how my name came to be. If memory serves me right, the name came about one day a number of summers ago, when I was driving The Boss' best friend across town to pick up her car at the garage. It was one of those quintessential summer days, where driving around demands that the windows be down and the stereo to be cranked up. I was blasting Metallica's "Reload" album and was rocking out. Decked out in jean shorts and a Star Wars t-shirt, I apparently looked like a walking contradiction. My wife's best friend started laughing at me, and I turned to her and asked what was so funny. "You," she replied. "You're such a badass geek." And the rest, as they say, is history.
Web Savvy Mom asked: If you were on Death Row and had to select your final meal, what would it be? What's one thing you own that you know you should throw out but can't seem to do it? Why do men have nipples? Do you think blogs are dying out due (like newsgroups) to the instant gratification of Twitter?
My final meal would have to be baked breaded chicken breasts, with mashed potatoes and peas. It has forever been the ultimate comfort food, and reminds me of being a child.
The one thing I should probably throw out are some old t-shirts that I got from participating in band/chorus/drama club in high school. They have lots of special memories attached to them. 
Men have nipples because the human embryo follows a "female" template. Men and women have a majority of the same parts, but the differences aren't made until the Y chromosome comes into play. Since the template existed before the male chromosome was introduced, the nipples stay. Or, you could take what The Boss would say: Men have nipples so women with nipple fetishes can have something to play with other than their own.
Twitter is great and all, but it hasn't bridged the gap yet. There is still enough of us out there who have more to say than can be expressed in 140 characters where I feel confident in saying that blogs will be around for a while yet.
Chuck asked: What is the most time honored "tradition" you have at home that drives your wife crazy? What inspired you to start your blog and keep it going? 
My wife hates the fact that I leave the peanut butter jar out on the counter after making myself a sandwich. I don't know why I do it, but I almost always leave it out. I don't do it (always) to bug her, but she probably thinks that I do.
I started this blog because I needed a space to dump my brain into. I had other blogs or journals before, but people in my real life knew of them and read them. I felt like I couldn't ever let go with a rant or say something personal because of who might read it, either right when it's posted or months later. I started this blog anonymous and have gradually become less so, as I've felt the need to share more parts of my life.
Writer Ninja asked: What is your biggest pet peeve? When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? Describe yourself in one word. What would you do for a Klondike Bar?
I hate being interrupted. It doesn't matter who does it, if it's some kid, The Boss, some old person, or someone of authority. I'll let one or two interruptions slip by without getting upset, but once you've got your three strikes, I start seething. The Boss learned this lesson the hard way.
When I was a kid, like all kids, I wanted to be many things. A football player, an artist, a policeman... As I grew older and perhaps a bit more jaded, I decided that it didn't ultimately matter what I became, as long as I was happy.
Awkward.
For a Klondike Bar, I would go to the store and buy one. No, probably more than one.
Lynne H asked: Rolling Stone has offered you a spread to interview anyone(alive of course) on the planet. Who would you interview and why? What is the funniest joke you have ever heard? You get the chance to play "air" instrument with any band; Who would you play with? WWJD with the Badass Geek in heaven?
I'd interview Stevie Ray Vaughn, and suggest that he take a later flight, perhaps on an aircraft with wings and higher constructional integrity.
A neutron walks into a bar and orders a whiskey on the rocks. "How much?" he asks the barhop. "For you?" the bartender replies. "No charge!"
I'd rock out with Metallica, but at their concert with the San Francisco orchestra back in 1999.
Jesus would assign me to be the guy who stands around awkwardly at all of the get-togethers. Everyone there would wonder who I am, and then probably assume that he's just the new guy.
Aunt Juicebox asked: How are things going with your health these days? Allergies and brain matter, and what not.
Things are alright. Still trying to find the right combination of medication to control my allergies that control the symptoms and don't tire me out. The allergy stuff has kind of taken the forefront for the time being. It's hard to know what other symptoms are related to my neurological stuff with all the allergy-related symptoms coming into play. The long story short is that I'm managing. 
Tony asked: If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be and why?
After giving it some serious thought, I wouldn't change anything. I don't know what kind of person I'd be otherwise, and I'm content (for the most part) with how things are right now.
Mig asked: What incentive do you have for me to come back reading?
Well, geez. I don't know. I really only offer two things: something for you to laugh at, or something for you to think about all day. If either of those two things intrigue you, be my guest.
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That took a bit longer than I thought. Hope I cleared some things up for you, but if I didn't, you can always drop me a line via e-mail.

Happy Monday, folks.

Friday, August 6, 2010

In Which I Want To Know

If you were to ask The Boss if there was one personality trait of mine that she didn't like, I'd put some money down on the possibility that she'd mention my penchant for routine and consistency. For someone who likes to mix things up for the sake of change, she doesn't always understand why I wish to keep things the same. We're not talking about major things here, just trivial stuff. Like how I drive the same way to and from work instead of taking a slightly different route every now and then, or that I eat the same thing for lunch for weeks upon end. What can I say? I'm big on tradition, and if I find something that works for me, I'm going to stick to it.

The same thing applies to my blog. There are certain traditions I have developed over the years, and I intend to stick to them. Take the way that I title my posts, for example. It started out as just something that I did to fill in the title field (which is often the hardest part, for me, in writing posts), and over time has developed into a trademark of sorts. There are other things I've done routinely here, of course, but the one I am going to continue again today is something I've done right around this same time in August two years running (first in 2008, and again in 2009). And so, as I've done before, I'm opening myself up to your questions. 

Do you have a burning question that you've been meaning to ask, but haven't? Is there something about me that you want to know that I have yet to mention here? Even if you're worried that it's been asked before, ask  it anyways. Unless you ask me if I have a secret crush on Sarah Jessica Parker*, there is no stupid question. 

You have until Sunday night to leave your question(s) in the comments here. The answers will go up on Monday.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

* For the record, the answer to this question is a strong, vehement, wholehearted, and resounding NO.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In Which I Mess Around

Have you ever been driving around and notice one of those signs that contractors put up on the lawns of the houses they are working on, advertising for their business? They always have a clever little slogan and generic clip art of some poor stick figure laboring away next to bullet points of what kind of work the company does. You see them everywhere this time of year, advertising for all varieties of home improvement or repair work.

I saw one yesterday that said, in big bold block letters, "Just Roofs."

In addition to that witty business name, there were four other words: "Quality Work. Affordable Prices." There was a phone number underneath that, but other than those six total words, that was it. I imagine the business owner to be a guy who is short on words (except of the four-letter variety), short on money to spend on advertising, and short on creativity for said advertising.

Now, maybe this is just me being me, but having a business name of "Just Roofs" is a claim that is just begging to be tested.

So I called.

After a few rings, the line picks up. There's a moment of scuffling. "Just Roofs, this is Rick."

"Hi, is this Just Roofs?"

"Yup."

"Yeah, I saw your sign in front of a house over on Dexter Street and I was wondering... Do you do siding?"

"Nope. We just do roofs."

"Ah." I paused for a few seconds. "How about painting? Would you slap on a coat or two of paint on a house if the price was right?"

Silence.

"Nope. All we do is roofs. If-"

"What about landscaping?" I asked, cutting him off. "My hedges are a mess."

"All we do is roofs. Roof repair and roof replacement. Just roofs," Rick said, sounding more than just a little bit annoyed.

More silence.

"So I couldn't get you to resurface my driveway, then?"

"No. Just. Roofs."

"Okay, then. Nevermind. Bye!"

*click*

As it turns out, that is a very apt name for Rick's business.

After I hung up on him, Rick did try calling me back, probably to yell some of those four-letter words that fill out his vocabulary at me. I let it go to voicemail (he didn't leave one), and made a mental note to remember to hide my phone number the next time I prank call someone.

Monday, August 2, 2010

In Which I See A Pirate

Have you ever been out somewhere, discreetly people-watching while your spouse or significant other is doing whatever it is that they're doing, and you come across someone that, given the right props and perhaps an eye patch, looks like they'd make a really awesome pirate?

No? Well, prepare to be jealous, because I have.

I was trying to be patient while The Boss was off scouring the clearance rack at the local Kohl's, and I was wandering aimlessly around the store. The most exciting thing to look at there for a guy like me is the kitchen gadget area. Some of the stuff they have for sale these days looks freaking dangerous. I was drooling over the kitchen knife sets they had on sale when I heard someone clearing their throat behind me. Thinking I might be in the way, I turned around, and that's when I saw him.

He was admiring a stainless steel coffee grinder, dressed in jean shorts and a polo shirt. He had long, salt-and-pepper hair pulled back into a ponytail, and sported an impressive beard. His face was sort of craggy and weathered, as if it had been through countless storms at sea, being tossed the ocean around like a plaything of the God's, holding onto the wheel in a fruitless effort to avoid smashing the hull against the jagged rocks. 

Feeling me staring at him, he looked up. I raised my eyebrows and gave him a close-lipped smile, the expression of a man borne into a life of patience by marrying a bargain-hunting wife. He smiled in return, displaying a mountain range of uneven and discolored teeth. They looked like they hadn't been brushed since... well... since ever. If his teeth were any indication of how his breath might have smelled, I'm sure it'd be safe to say that even chewing the World's Largest Altoid with a Scope chaser would help. Which, I suppose, was perfectly fitting for the role I pegged him for. 

This guy seriously looked like he was put on earth to be a pirate. All he needed was an eye patch, a parrot on his shoulder, and a ship full of crewmen to call "scallywaggs." I left the area shortly after our silent exchange before he could recruit me. The pirate's life might be for some people, but it's not for me.

Happy Monday, folks.