If you're looking for the funniest stuff, I suggest starting with the Steve, Don't Eat It Homage and then the travel category. You're on your own with the older posts that have yet to be categorized.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Named By The Same Guy Who Couldn't Spell Socks

When I was around 11 or 12 years old, a wave of chicken pox hit my school. Almost everyone got it. Everyone except me and my next door neighbor. It seemed very clear to me why I did not get it. I went to my mother and said:

me: I'm immune.
mom: What?
me: I'm immune to chicken pox.
mom: But you never had them before.
me: I'm naturally immune.

My mom rolled her eyes and lit up a cigarette.

About a year later my neighbor got the pox and my mom rushed me over to be with him. She wanted me to get chicken pox while I was still a kid. I heard something about it causing sterility if a man got it as an adult. I protested, "But I'm immune!"

My pox covered friend was not much fun to be around but I endured. We sat around. Watched TV. Ate Lil' Smokies and frozen pizza bites. Actually, it wasn't much different than when he didn't have some disease.

A couple weeks later, with only a slight smirk and a glint in her eye, my mom said to me "Immune, huh? I'll get you some Caladryl. And stop scratching, you'll get scars."

Friday, July 28, 2006

Like, Thanks For The Gumball, Dude

When I was growing up, there was a commercial on TV for gumball machines. I don't remember all the types but I'm pretty sure they made Mickey Mouse and Popeye models. The ads went something like this:

kid: Penny for a gumball, Mickey.
(operates machine)
kid: Thanks for the gumball!
other kid: Penny for a gumball, Popeye.
(operates machine)
other kid: Thanks for the gumball!

I wonder how much you could sell one of those gumball machines for in Ellicott City, MD?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Yates Of Hell

I can't help but think that if Andrea Yates was an atheist she'd be on (or on her way to) death row.

Her attorneys said she suffered from severe postpartum psychosis and, in a delusional state, believed that Satan was inside her and that killing the youngsters would save them from hell.
What would they say if she was an atheist that might carry a similar weight? She was saving them from alien invaders from Sporlok-9? I don't think there's anything and without it, I think she's found guilty.

But back to that statement: if it's false then Yates got away with murder. On the other hand, if it's true, does that make her religion (apparently some form of Christianity) culpable? Take away Satan and heaven and hell and what's left? Would she still kill her kids? Would she still get away with it?

This Rice Is A Bit Too Toothy For Me

Is it just me or is there a resemblence here?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Maybe She Thought It Was Halloween

A friend of mine was at a birthday party this weekend. They were opening gifts and several bottles of alcohol had already been received. The birthday guy turned to his 2 year old daughter, who was holding another bottle-sized gift and said:

BG: What do think is in that one?
2 year old: More booze.

Start saving for therapy now.

Monday, July 24, 2006

If You Bake Them, They Will Come

I've got good news and I've got bad news and I don't know which is which.

I made cookies this weekend and, as usual, did not follow a recipe exactly. This batch contains a secret ingredient I've never used in cookies I've brought in to work before. I won't divulge the ingredient until after I've gotten feedback from the people brave enough to eat cookies without knowing what might be in them. It's kind of an indirect test of trust, paranoia and one-track-mindedness. Almost as if I shot this ingedient through my Johari Window and it landed in my cookies.

Whether this is good news or bad news depends on whether you have and want access to the cookies.

Update (7-24-06 13:36): People have finally started eating the cookies. This morning, no one would touch them. I'd put this experiment right up there with Stanford Prison Experiment or the Milgram Experiment in terms of importance to the psychological community.

Some further information that leaked out (is that a pun?) this morning:

Co-Worker: Is there anything harmful in them?
Me: There's no cyanide or poison or anything in them.
CW: Is it a food product that people normally eat.
Me: People eat it.
CW: Do sane people eat this product?
Me: Sane people have eaten it.

There is conjecture on whether the ingredient is actually food or just something that people eat. There is conjecture that the ingredient was added by accident (e.g. it fell off a shelf into the mix) or was added by an animal (e.g. rat droppings). It has been suggested that "you could get pregnant" eating more than one.

General concensus is that nobody tastes anything different about these cookies. Some feel that since they taste like my other cookies, my secret ingredient has failed.

The "known" ingredients are: flour, oatmeal, butter, eggs, white and brown sugar, peanut butter, vanilla and chocolate chips/chunks.

I'd say that this has turned out much more interesting than expected.

Update #2 (7-24-06 15:34): As I've gotten feedback from everyone who might eat the cookies I can reveal the ingredient. It was margarine.

What happened was, I only took one stick of butter out of the freezer to defrost even though I need two. Since I didn't want to wait for another to defrost and I didn't want to risk defrosting one in the microwave I just used half butter/half margarine in the recipe. Apparently, this had no effect (at least none that could be detected in a normal setting).

Friday, July 21, 2006

For Serious Investors Only!

During my morning routine I usually watch a little CNBC. This morning there was a guest on whose investing advice was so important that I must forgo my usual feeble attempts at humor to ensure you get this ground breaking advice. This person (Richard Suttmeier from Joseph Stevens) gave the following critical advice:

"Investors today have to be aware that this is a bear market[*] and they have to have investment strategies to take advantage of that and that is: on these big days up--that we get--to look to raise cash in stocks they've been long for the long term and then, on weakness, look for other opportunities in the stock market."
You might want to print that out. I'm not sure if quoting that is considered "fair use". I'm expecting to receive a letter from somebody's lawyers soon telling me to remove this post. It's really a race between that letter and being "slash dotted" or "digg.com"ed first.

On the other hand, given how many people will start implementing this strategy, you might try a contrarian view. Buy stocks when they are up and sell them when they are down. I already know several people who use this strategy. Apparently they are happy with it as they continue to use. They must be raking in the dough.

See you in the rich house!

* - Note that this advice is limited to bear markets only. If the market goes flat or turns bullish, I guess we'll have to tune in to find out what to do.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

We Need An Amendment Against Movies Like This

I just finished watching Brokeback Borefest. Wasn't this just Same Time Next Year with gay cowboys? Did I miss something?

To Ang Lee: (paraphrasing Steve Martin's character in Trains, Planes and Automobiles) Here's an idea. When you make a movie, have a point to it. It makes it soooo much more interesting for the audience.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I Will Make An Exception For Fugu

I was feeling quite ill the last couple days in Germany. It started the night I ate the "freshly slaughtered pig". I decided to check my symptoms against the first disease you'd think of after eating pork.

  • nausea - check
  • diarrhea - check
  • vomiting - not today, not tomorrow but soon and for the rest of your life
  • fatigue - check
  • fever - check
  • abdominal discomfort - checkity check check check
Ooooh. Not good. Later symptoms include:
  • headaches - Oh goody
  • fevers and chills - way ahead of you here
  • cough - always great with a headache
  • eye swelling - that's different
  • aching joints and muscle pains - Mmmhmmm
  • itchy skin - shout it to the Lord!
  • diarrhea or constipation - huh?
If the infection is heavy, patients may experience difficulty coordinating movements, and have heart and breathing problems. In severe cases, death can occur.
Ooooh, death. This is some serious stuff.
For mild to moderate infections, most symptoms subside within a few months. Fatigue, weakness, and diarrhea may last for months.
Whew. Only a few months!

So based on that information and how I'm feeling today, I'm pretty sure I did not have trichinosis. It might have been a very mild case or since the parasite is killed at 170 degrees, the lack of effective A/C might have done it in. Still, I think I'll rein in my adventurous eating habits a bit next time.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Fifteen Is My Limit On Schnitzengruben.

A word about German food. I don't know why people always say German food is so bad. Walking around downtown last night I noticed plenty of good looking German food including Italian, French, Thai and Greek. True, I also saw an English pub but just because English food is awful is no reason to turn up your nose at all German food.

According to der phrase book, lunch is the big meal in Germany. I don't know where these people are eating their lunch. I'm eating at a Sodhexo cafeteria.

Yesterday at lunch, I chose what to eat based on it appearing edible and it having the shortest line. That would be the Turkish pizza. "What's that," you ask? Well, think of a Gyro and take away the meat and replace it with some orange grease. My CW also chose the same. As the cafeteria worker was putting them together, she eventually asked us "mit brflgugenssuytemwnem". She repeated and pointed at the two bowls of identical white sauces next to her. We assumed she was asking if we wanted sauce. "Yah," we said. She then pointed to one bowl and then the other, the universal sign for "Which sauce, dummy?" My CW pointed at the bowl closer to us. She still didn't get it. By now a line had formed behind us and a starving worker intervened and told us she wanted to know if we wanted sauce with garlic or without. We said "with", he told her "mit" and we were on our way.

Dinner the first night was in the hotel as we were too exhausted to go anywhere. The prices seemed quite reasonable for a hotel until the food arrived. I ordered some kind of chicken farfluggen (don't look that up, it's not the real word) with herbed baked potato. What I got was a chicken breast as small as a pigeon's (a normal pigeon, not a New York pigeon) and a small baked potato in a foil swan. When I finished two bites later, I was wishing I had got a small baked swan wrapped in a foil potato. At 3 that morning I ate one of my emergency nutrition bars.

Breakfast is great. It consists of eggs, bacon, sausage, two kinds of potatoes, squeeze your own OJ, cold cuts, assorted fruits and melons, yogurts, lox, brie and other cheeses. After trying all those I also had a bowl of cereal.

Dinner last night was fish. After sitting and being handed a menu, the host heard us say something and said, "Oh, English menu?" He took our menus and returned with the English ones. As I read it I wondered what delicacies we were missing out on, just like when you go to a Chinese restaurant with some who speaks the language. They order all these wonderful dishes and when you return the next week, those dishes are surely not on your English menu.

I debated between the "sea bars" and the Frankenstein fish (it was a word close to Frankenstein and apparently untranslatable). My CW went for the "salon trout". I decided on the path less traveled but when I asked the waiter (who spoke German, English and Italian) about Frank I did not get a glowing review. I asked for his suggestion and he recommended the three fillet special which was great.

My manager's manager was in town today and took me and my CW to dinner at a place he'd been to before. They had English menus (sans typos). I ordered the "Sausage and freshly slaughtered pig platter." While my adventuresome colleagues had ribs and a big leg of pork (probably slaughtered many days ago). We ordered a round of beers (which came in 1/4 liter glasses, ~8.5 oz. for you lazy Americans).

There were 6 types of meat on my platter. One looked like uncooked ham. One looked like a hot dog. One looked like a small Kielbasa. One looked like a small green turd. And the other two were a light and dark pair of very mushy, metal pinched ended, cylinders of Ipecac. I tasted each one and then ate enough mashed potatoes to plaster a bulimic's stomach. The turd won the battle of "best taste to looks ratio".

They tally your beers with a pencil mark on one of your coasters. In the end we had 29 tics (3 or 4 for me and the rest split between MM and CW, plus 2 rounds of Schnapps (which tasted like root beer syrup in alcohol).

After dinner, we were walking around and I made a joke along the lines of "The German word for venereal disease is Keipudihkotovit* (hey, imagine hearing it after 13 beers). My co-workers at home will need to remind me to tell them the rest of this story (it would not be funny to anyone else).

Must sleep....apologies for spelling/grammar errors. I'm shpent.

* - pronounced "keep you dick out of it" with a German accent

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

German eins nul eins

I can highly recommend that you don't get Barron's German At A Glance phrase book which boasts "thousands of expressions you need to travel".

Here are some of the things you'll never need to know how to say on any trip to anywhere:

Schachmatt! [1] Unless you find yourself in a spontaneous chess match.
Ich habe eine Geschlechtskrankeit. [2] Unless you are in sales.
Ich vertrage keine Nusse. [3] Unless you are a manager.

Downtown is a short 15 minute ride on the Straßenbahn (street car). I'm happy to report it only took us an hour and a half to get there. After reviewing the map and deciding we needed tram 715 we waited a bit and hopped on when it arrived.

Me: Are we going the right way?
CW: I'm not sure.
Me: There's no map on the train that I see.
CW: No list of stops either...only the end of the line.

We also could not figure out how to get our tickets as there was no machine apparent. After hearing that my co-worker got fined 40 Swiss Francs last year for failing to have a 1 SFranc ride last year, I thought it wise to get off, figure out which way we need to go and how to get tickets. We jumped off at the next stop.

I walked over to someone waitting at the stop, opened my phrase book and pointed at "Wo kann ich eine Farhkarte kaufen?" (Where can I buy a ticket?) It seemed more likely she would know how to read than understand my butchering of her language. She immediately asked me a question in German {blink}. She pointed at something and spoke some more. Something about an automat (I didn't ask for food, I want a ticket!) and I should go to Strassen-something. I took the wisest strategy...I stared blankly. I held out a piece of paper which had our destination written on it. We walked over to the map and she pointed to the center and the station was close enough to sounding like what I thought she said. I thought that seemed pretty ridiculous to need to ride the tram without a ticket to a station further than we wanted to go (we found that station on the map) just to get a ticket. Her tram came (the 707) and she left. Everyone waiting at the stop got on except us.

We slowly deciphered (with no help from der phrase book) the signs at the stop. We had been on the right tram going the right way. Damn. Still we had no idea how to get tickets. We waited and another tram finally appeared. 707. We needed the 715. We checked the tables again.

CW: What time is it?
Me: 8:15
CW: The next 715 is, uh...The 715 stops running at 7:52.
Me: Scheiße

We then determined we could still get where we wanted but would need to take two trams. The first was the only tram still running on the line we were at...the 707, two of which had already passed.

We got the next one (8:32) and walked to the front to ask the driver the following question in my best German accent: "Ticket?" I said, holding up 2 Euros. He said something and mercifully pointed backward. We walked slowly toward the back of the tram looking for what was clearly a clevery disguised place to get tickets. Maybe a person? Maybe a machine? We were at the back of the tram when we found it. A machine. Un Automat! What the tickets said, we didn't know. We bought the ones that were 2 Euros as CW's manager had told him that's how much it cost to ride the tram. Then it dawned on me. The automat was not at the station that lady had pointed to. She was probably pointing to our destination (poorly but she was short and it was a high map). The automat was on the Straßenbahn! (ß is pronounced "ss") That's what she said. We got to our stop, switched trams and arrived at our destination near 9.

As we ate dinner in front of a restaurant, a clown was performing. By clown I mean a guy with a little white make-up and a red rubber nose. His act consisted of the following: hugging/grabbing people walking by, imitating people walking by (mainly those with sour expressions or "strange" walks) and jumping in front of every Asian person, holding his hands stiffly straight in a Karate pose and yelling "HeeeYaaaaah!" Yes in Germany, Asians are the new Jews and clowns are the new Nazis. I'll bet most of those Asians are staying in non-air conditioned hotels!

We did much better on the return. When we switched trams we got on the wrong direction. Luckily my CW was paying attention and after only 10 or so stops we go off, walked across the road and waited, for the last time for a tram cutting our 15 minute trip down to only 30 or so minutes!

[1] Checkmate!
[2] I have a venereal disease.
[3] I can't have any nuts.

Wenn einer eine Reise macht, so kahn er 'was erzahlen.

My German phrase book tells me how to say "My room is too cold" or "There is no heat". Oh, how I wish I needed to use those phrases.

The person on duty did not understand when I said it was too hot. Finally this:

Me: It's like an oven in there!
Her: (blank stare)
Me: Oven!
Her: (confused)
Me: Like Auschwitz! [I turned and pointed to my nose.]
Her: (aghast)

I wake in a pool of sweat. It is only midnight. The blanket is tiny but thick and covered in a duvet. I remove the blanket and just use the duvet. Still too hot. I open the window. No help. Oh, what I wouldn't give to be in a Motel 6 in the good ole US. With a giant air conditioner right in your room. The kind that causes global warming, requiring enough energy to melt 10 cubic yards of the polar icecap to lower your room temperature 1 degree. The kind that uses so much energy it warps space and time when it turns on. The kind so loud it would drown out the sounds of jets taking off right outside my now open window.

My plan for tomorrow is to take all the beer from the mini-bar, wrap it in a towel and sleep with it...placing it back in the morning. Is it dangerous to sleep in a bathtub filled with water?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

You May Ask Yourself, "How Did I Get Here?"

How did I end up in Dusseldorf?

Travel tip: If your flight does not give you enough time to sleep, you can watch "Fun with Dick and Jane" and extend your trip by what will seem like several more hours...hours that you will never get back, no matter how long you live.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

At Least They Don't Make Hemorrhoid Cream

Head On. Apply directly to the forehead. [1]
Head On. Apply directly to the forehead.
Head On. Apply directly to the forehead. [2]
Head On. Shoot me directly in the forehead.

1 - the actual ad
2 - not [1]

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Jesus' Hands Are At 9 And 3, Not 10 And 2

Driving back from North Carolina, I took a different route than I did getting there. Lombard St. in San Fran might hold the record for curviest street but I'd nominate 194 between Banner Elk and Valle Crucis in NC as it is much longer and not just a tourist attraction. There are signs telling trucks and buses to turn around and take a different route. The speed limit ranges from 25 to 35 and it is difficult to reach that speed except for a couple short bursts. There were several times that I was in first gear and still needed to brake in order to get around a turn. In addition to the "curvy road" signs there were also warnings spray painted on the road like "Dangerous S" and "8% Grade, 2 miles, Check Brakes!" I think those hand-painted warnings for cyclists in a local race but who knows. The road almost made me sick even though I was driving. This would be a great place to test new antiemetics.

A little further into my travels I passed through Historic Unincorporated Trade, TN. Woohoo! Unincorporated! Take that globalization!

Lastly, I did an anecdotal survey of poor drivers. I mentally noted as many factors as I could about vehicles and drivers every time I saw something unsafe, a**hole-ish or just plain stupid. Tallying these up, I believe the highest correlation with poor driving is not age, sex, race or even vehicle type. What correlated most highly with poor driving was "number of bumper stickers on the vehicle". A couple examples:

There was a lady with some campaign sticker. I can't remember who it was for. I'll assume they were a Socialist as the lady drove slowly in left lane forcing about a dozen cars to pass on her right. I'll note that the road was fairly empty as that's how many I saw pass until I lost sight of her.

And there was the trucker from Covenant Transport. His sticker said "It's not a choice, it's a child" (I believe they have that sticker on all their trucks). Maybe he should check his mirrors before he runs over someone's car (as he nearly did) or their rights. Upon passing him I thought "It's not a choice, it's a risky f**king gamble".

I should note that most of the stickers I saw were religious. That could skew my results as these people are hoping to die to go to a better place. Why bother with learning how to drive?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I'm Thor

There is one thin bar between me and civilization. We'll see if it holds long enough for me to post.

Arrived in the mountains on Saturday, went for a run Sunday, walked Monday, golfed Tuesday, sore Wednesday.

I just finished reading Naked by David Sedaris. Funny, quick read. For whatever reason, my library only had it in LARGE PRINT which made it seem like an even quicker read. What if a book I want to read is available in both regular and LARGE print? Is checking out the LARGE PRINT book more like using the roomy handicapped stall in the men's room or more like parking in a handicapped spot? These are the issues that keep me up at night.