Thursday, April 30, 2009

Naked Hikers

     Hmmm...naked hikers. I am not sure I really need to say anything else. But I'm going to.
      The Swiss seem to have problems with outsiders. I mean, they tolerate us, they let us come to all manner of summits and whatnot in Geneva, and they let us have our embassies in Bern, and they are more than willing to ship us army knives and chocolates and immaculately engineered watches for vast sums of pent up wealth and currency which they are happy to house in secure and super secret bank accounts. But they still kind of don't like us outsiders, as evidenced by the fact that they have every mountain pass and tunnel connecting the place to the outside rigged with God knows what so that, at the slightest sign of provocation they can flip the switch or push the plunger and KA-BLAMO! no way in, or out. It's sort of like the panic room of the Alps in a way.
      Anyway, their very public sort of mistrust of outsiders is able to mask a very disturbed and conflicted people living among the mountains and valleys. Why so disturbed? Well, they seem to like hiking naked.  A lot.  And that's just not right.
     Before getting into specifics, let's just take a moment to go ahead and look at the sport of naked hiking. I don't understand it. First of all, hiking is really just walking through the forest or a meadow or something. Anywhere that's not a road or sidewalk, so how is it a sport. And I like hiking, don't get me wrong. I partake and I enjoy it. But we need to call a spade a spade here people. But I can see the appeal of it. You live in a smelly city and you want to get away into the fresh mountain air and all that jazz. Yet, for the life of me I cannot begin to understand why you would want to do it naked.
      First of all, I am not going to go naked hiking because nobody wants to see me naked, least of all me, okay? I don't need to be strolling through the countryside with my ding dong flapping in the wind and the countryside doesn't need that either. People would shriek, old ladies would probably pass out, a couple of Pervo McPerverstiens would be excited but on the whole it would not be good for the community. I mean, it's Switzerland, so Heidi would be blinded and the Ricola guy with that big long horn would probably choke on his cough drop and soil his lederhosen in fear and disgust. Plus, as an added bonus, it's cold up in the high Alps most of the time, with sweeping winds, and anyone who has ever seen Seinfeld knows what the cold does to it.
     Yeah, it's cold. That's my second problem.  I don't know about you, Company, but when it gets cold outside I tend to do one of two things: go inside or put on extra clothes, neither of which actions are conducive to naked hiking.  Why one would want to go ahead and get naked in the freezing cold just plain escapes me.  I mean, seriously.  That makes no sense.  No matter whether you are saying it in French, German, or Italian.
      You know what else about naked hiking doesn't make sense?  Well I will tell you.  These people aren't hiking like on a day hike where they just wander around the forest on a trail made of wood chips or something.  No, they are hardcore hiking up in the mountains like Dingo did that one time out in Colorado.  Saner people, as in people who wouldn't go naked hiking, would call it backpacking.  Because they carry bigass backpacks with clothes and tents and food and whatnot inside of them.  Well, okay, maybe not the clothes so much.  But you get the point.  And since you get that point see if you can wrap your head around this one: those bags have straps.  Straps that go over the shoulder and around the waist.  And they lie on your back.  And they chafe as they rub around on your parts in the hot Alpine sun and cold Alpine climate.  Chafage, as any person can tell you, is not good when clothes are involved.  One can only imagine what it's like when there are none.
     So okay, naked hiking is already not looking so hot in my eyes.  Actually, not in any light is it looking good.  So you could see what the powers that be in the Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, which no one has EVER heard of, were thinking about when they outlawed naked hiking in their district.  At least that's what I assumed.  Shrinky ding dongs flapping in the wind.  Pubic areas on full display in public areas.  Endemic chafing.  No no no no no!  We can't allow that.  So they outlawed it.  
      As it turns out, Appenzell is truly the canton that time forgot.  It is widely considered to be one of the most conservative areas in all Switzerland, to put it mildly.  In this case when we say "conservative" we mean "just gave women the right to vote in 1990."  It is also one of the last cantons, actually one of the last two, that still makes its laws by gathering all its citizens in the town square and having them vote by raising their hands.  And at their recent yearly Landsgemeinde, which is their little hand raising ceremony, they raised their hands in unison to bad naked hiking, something they have been raising their voices in unison against for some time apparently.
     As quoted from the BBC, one elderly local noted "I think it's disgraceful.  God may have created us naked, but he gave us clothes to walk around in." Another random woman agreed with him.  "It's just not right.  Not at all appropriate..." So as you can see, the locals are against this strange custom of naked hiking, especially since it has become more popular.  Yet, none of the "conservative" townspeople who are so against naked hiking seem to have ever seen an actual naked hiking.  That, however, did not stop them from voting a $175 fine for naked hiking, just in case they ever do see one.
     And so the showdown has been set: between the naked hikers, all 20 to 25 of them by one estimate, and the hand raising prudes of Appenzell.  Some legal analysts in Switzerland are doubting the legality of the canton's actions.  Some nearby Swiss cantons, such as the strangely familiar Appenzell Outerrhoden and more boringly named Glarus, are worried that the naked hikers will be forced into their areas.  Yet strangely, no one seems to be worried about frostbite. 
     So I guess that right now we are at a standstill, unlike the naked hikers who are still on the prowl in the Swiss Alps.  I am sure, because this entire world is messed up, that this will end up in the courts, where I assume everyone will be clothed.  And the fate of the hikers remains hanging in the wind.  Will they wither in the cold wind of the current Swiss political climate?  Or will they bask in the bright sunshine of freedom?  Well will have to wait and see.  Stay tuned.  Oh wait, here comes one of the naked hikers.  Better turn away instead.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The View from the Other Seat

     This is not a blog for everyone.  I am sorry, sometimes that's just how it has to be.  Those of you who are married or have a long time girlfriend or boyfriend that you let drive your vehicle while you in it it from time to time will not get this.  This is a post for people like me who, as a general rule drive themselves around and who rarely, if ever, ride shotgun in their own car.  
     I went down to the friendly local car wash today.  Not the kind of place where you drive in and your tire attaches to the little track and slowly plod through a wonderland of brushes and big floppy cloth strips and sprays of water and undercoating that you are not sure actually does anything and hurricane force winds from the crazy mad scientist drying racks.  No, not that kind.  Not even the kind where your car gets to go on the magical journey while you sit in a room that very closely resembles an old laundromat and where towel monkeys dry your car off all nice for you but then you have to give them a little tip.  No.  And definitely not the kind where that happens but they are on roller skates and break into song like they were in a 70s film or something.  And unfortunately not one of those cheerleading team fundraising ones where you get to see high school girls spray each other with hoses and fling soap at one another and it's actually not illegal; not even creepy!  No, I didn't get to go to any of those fun kinds of car washes.  I went to the salt-of-the earth, poor person's car wash where you have to plug in quarters and then you have to spray your beloved DykeSedan down yourself and you have to flip the dial to whatever setting you want to and there is that awesome foamy brush the I love but I still don't quite trust because I always feel that it should move or rotate or something like that.  Yeah, that place.  But I didn't go there to wash the car.  Oh no.  I went there to vacuum it.  And that allowed me to go ahead and do one of my favorite things in the whole world.
     Whenever I am cleaning my car, be it at the car wash or in my mom's driveway or wherever I like to do this.  And I mean really cleaning.  There has to be a vacuum involved and some sort of rag or shammy cloth to wipe down the dashboard and whatnot.  That kind of cleaning.  The kind where you take the floor mats out and beat the hell out of them on the pavement?  Yeah, I was doing that kind of cleaning.  And when I do that kind of cleaning I always like to take to opportunity to sit in the passenger seats of my car.
      Yeah, I know.  That sounds, well, it sounds fucking stupid.  But I don't care.  Usually it's no big deal but sometimes I have to check to see if there are a lot of people around because, quite frankly, if you saw some guy just sitting in the back seat of his car all by himself just sort of looking around in the middle of the day you would think that he needed a helmet or something.  And I don't want that.  Not at all.  But I do it anyway, because I really, really like to take the opportunity to sit in one of the three seats in my car that I do not usually occupy.
     I just love to do this, and I just don't quite know why.  It is not like some sort of deep psychological need that haunts me from day to day.  Like, I don't dream about it or do little doodles about it on the back cover of my notebook while I am in class or anything.  It invariably starts like this: I have all four doors open and am going at it with the vacuum.  The floor mats are lying around on the pavement and as usual I am moving all the shit that habitates in my car from place to place as I try to vacuum the floors and seats and especially the areas under my seats.  I can never get that huge vacuum nozzle into those hard-to-reach places where the small coins and used toothpicks and bottle caps tend to congregate.  Anyway, I am usually vacuuming somewhere in the rear seat passenger area when I look up towards the front and notice that it's a view that I have really never seen before.  Then I stand up and look in the rear drivers side door and I think to myself "I wonder what it's like to sit in the back seat.  I wonder if it's comfortable?" Then, as soon as the vacuum runs out of time and I get the car put back together I sit down in the back seat and just take a look around.
      It is really quite amazing what one will see.  You will get a whole new perspective on what your car looks like, because you will be seeing it from an entirely different angle.  Usually while I am sitting there my imagination runs wild and suddenly me and a couple of friends are on some sort of road trip and I envision that I have just gotten in at some gas station just off the Interstate in the middle of Kansas or something with my treasure trove of Coca-Cola and beef jerky.  And I imagine sitting there and watching the wheat and windbreaks roll by.  I know, I am lame.  I can hear you laughing at me.  But it's an exercise in imagination and it's sort of neat to see what your friends see while they are sitting back there.  I mean, minus you driving like a maniac in the driver's seat, but you get the idea.  I do that though.  I sit in each of the other seats in turn and look around.  I just love it.  Maybe I can never adequately explain it but I could do it all day long.  It sort of makes me want to go somewhere in my car but make someone else drive.
      So anyway, I did that today and enjoyed every minute of it.  And I will do it again the next time I clean the car and I will enjoy every minute of it then too.  Plus, my car is relatively clean right now and that always makes me happy.  So it all went well despite the fact that you are laughing at me, at least on the inside.  And that's okay, because I understand that it sort of sounds silly.  But don't even try to tell me that the next time you clean your vehicle we won't find you looking around to see if anyone is watching you, then sliding back behind the passenger seat and taking a look around.  It's always nice to get a little bit of a different perspective, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Referee in the Straw Sandals

     Well Company, I know that sometimes we don't always notice what's going on in Canada since we are usually looking the other way in order to shield our eyes from the cold winter winds, but recently something pretty astonishing in both a good and bad and "wow, what a turn of events that makes me not know how to feel" sort of way.  Oh yeah.  And the news just filtered into my ear canal and made its way through my eardrum and registered in me cerebellum, so now I am going to bring it to you.
     Everyone knows that the Canadians love their hockey, and if you don't know that let me assure you that the Canadians love their hockey.  There are few places in the world where they engage in a sport with such a reverence, skill, and absolute obsession as they do with hockey in Canada.  That being said, it should not be surprising that, in mid-February, there was a hockey tournament being played at the local rink of the Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation.  At about 11:30 am local time a 21-year-old man cross checked a 45-year-old referee in the face with his hockey stick.  This, as one could imagine, is most definitely not cool.  And it is definitely one of those unfortunate moments in sports, hockey especially it seems (and I am not picking on hockey here, folks, I like hockey well enough but you can't really argue with the news), in which the incident goes beyond the realm of sports penalties and into the very real and consequential world of civil penalties.  
     That's right, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)  went ahead and released an arrest warrant for the young man as the referee was transported to a hospital in Meadow Lake in Northern Saskatchewan.  While police officers were attempting to arrest the player on charges of aggravated assault, assault with a weapon, and breach of recognizance, doctors in Saskatoon were attempting to treat the referees broken nose and broken teeth.  And while the RCMP tracked ever closer to finding the young man in order to face the consequences of his actions, the doctors working on the referee were finding something that would turn the whole story on its head.
     While attempting to reconstruct the referee's face doctors found a brain tumor growing inside of his head.  The referee issued a statement that he would like to speak to the player who cross-checked him in the face with a hockey stick, and then later dropped the charges altogether.  He (the referee) maintains that the incident was actually a blessing as it allowed the brain tumor to be found.  Now he can be treated for something that was putting his life in danger every day without him knowing it.
     Helenocious always told me a parable about a Chinese man who had a series of events occur in his life, and each one turned out to be the exact opposite of what he thought it would be.  For instance, he thought the terrible drought that killed all his crops was terrible, but it cause the invading armies to leave his village alone.  He thought that was a blessing but it meant that his son had to go away to war, etc, etc.  I always sort of got the story messed up in my head when I wasn't thinking about it and I always called it the story about the Chinese man in the straw sandals, and she never thought that I was listening, but I was.  The message got through.  It showed up again in an episode of Northern Exposure Sue Too was talking about one day, with Marilyn relating it as an old Native American tale, which I am sure it is.  See, it's a pretty universal idea that translates easily from culture to culture: That whatever happens to come along isn't always what it appears on the surface.  And I am not talking about that book you are reading or that car you want to buy, or that margarita machine you just HAD to have.  I am talking about events and occurrences in life.  You big promotion might lead you to be wealthier, happier, and with more time for your pottery-making.  Or it might turn your hair grey and cause you a coronary at age 43.  That tornado destroying your house while you were visiting the National Baseball Hall of Fame might have seemed terrible but it turns out that house had black mold in every nook and cranny that would have killed you anyway.  
     So the moral of the story, for those of you who need a moral at the end of your stories, is that life is a little like going up to bat in a baseball game.  Sure, you can go up there expecting a fastball when the count is 3-1, but then he throws a wicked changeup and you are way out in front.  You just sort of have to take the pitches one at a time.  See that it's a slider once he throws it and you can deal accordingly.  Don't fall for it just because it looks like a fastball coming out of his hand.  Have I lost you yet?  I figured as much.  Here's the deal: Just deal with things as they come, don't freak out, don't get too overly excited.  Just take it as it comes for what it is.  Accept it and move on.  Because that's all you can do, that's all that time and life and karma will let you do is to handle it and move on.  You never know what you might get from life.  Just like the Canadian referee.  Or the Chinese man in the straw sandals.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Tea Bag Me

     America runs on coffee, let's be honest here Company.  Think about how many coffee makers you see in the course of one day.  Think about how many people have gotten rich thinking up funny things to put on their coffee mugs.  Count the number of Starbucks that you pass walking down four blocks in Midtown Manhattan.  Back in the days of yore the American barons made tons of money hauling coffee here from South and Central America, while we left the British to loot China and India for their tea.  And that's been fine for years and years and years.  It's worked.  It's always been sort of like the Spanish and Portuguese after Pope Alexander Vi threw down the Line of Demarcation: they stayed on their own side of the room and left the other side to be.  Once we discovered coffee over here and had that ugly divorce from England, we were content for the most part to throw bean ground into a nasty percolator while we left leaves in bags to the English, Chinese, and Russians.  And that has always worked just fine for all these years.
     Apparently somewhere along the way we here in America wanted in on the teabag action despite our daily jonze for coffee.  But how could we go ahead and get our share of the world's tea supply without having to stop drinking God's nectar, a.k.a. coffee?  Well, we decided to put it in everything else.
     Yeah, like that helps anything.  We stick it in candles because apparently it smells good.  And we do it with all sorts of weird stuff.  Teaberry candles.  Tea Salt Candles.  Teawood, which is also the name of a nearby ritzy subdivision.  I still to this day cannot tell you what tea smells like on its own or why I would want it to be the scent of my house.  I know that on the occasions that I make myself some tea it doesn't smell all that great.  It doesn't even smell as good as the coffee Dr. J. makes every morning at work.  So why would I want my house to smell like that, huh?  I guess that green tea smells alright but then why are we having to combine it with every other scent that we can find.  If green tea isn't good enough by itself, why would it be any better when we combine it with something called dogwood?  That doesn't make sense to me.  And sometimes they stick it in bath oils too, so that we can smell green tea while we take a bath.  Well I have news for you, Company.  Sticking tea in hot water is how you brew it, so when you are putting the tea flavored bath oils in the tub with you and your rubber ducky all you are doing is brewing a soapy batch of the stuff that is additionally flavored with your dirty body soils.  And that's just wrong.
     We like to put tea on ourselves, and none of us know why.  It is in our shampoo.  Because it makes our hair silky smooth or something.  It is in our hand cream because it keeps our skin hydrated.  It is in our facial creams that girls and some guys spread all over their face before they go to bed at night because it exfoliates.  And now I saw a commercial that they are putting it in the stuff that women use to shave their legs.  I guess that would be women's shaving cream, now wouldn't it?  But they stick it in there because it apparently makes your skin smooth.  Well here's my question?  Has anybody actually bothered to go ahead and look into this?  I mean, has anyone gone ahead and done the scientific research on this?  Because it seems to me a little bit messed up that a LEAF will be able to smooth and hydrate your skin AND fix all your hair problems AND make you lose weight (they are pitching a green tea weight loss supplement lately) AND help your cholesterol and heart and whatever else, just based on when it was picked.  Like, if it was picked six minutes after the leaf formed it will exfoliate, if it is picked three days later it will help your hair, and if it is picked and let lie around on a dock in the deepest China for six weeks until it gets funky then we drink it in our cups.  That just doesn't seem right.  Even Superman can't do all that stuff.  He might be fast as a speeding bullet but seriously, he doesn't do a thing for my pores.
     Okay, seriously Company, has anyone ever stopped to think that maybe companies are just saying that there is tea in their stuff just because the rest of us are dumb enough to buy it just because it has tea in it?  Has that ever crossed anyone's mind?  Because it has certainly crossed my mind.  It seems to me that if tea were such a miracle worker, the Chinese, who have been cultivating and consuming tea since time immortal, would have been using that for all that stuff.  I mean, they were pretty smart - they figured out gunpowder, the compass, and had the earliest fleet of transcontinental ships - I think they would have been able to figure out that green tea is the best thing in the history of the world.  So why is it that in China they pretty much drink it while they go about their daily lives, but here we spread it on all of our 2000 parts?  That just seems strange.  But then again, what do I know.  I don't make any sort of body cream or candles.  And those are the people who really have it going on, aren't they?  
      So let's go ahead and keep the tea off of our faces and in our cups.  Of better yet, let's go ahead and leave it with the English where they will really appreciate it and brew it from bags, or with the Russians where they really need it to keep them warm and brew it from a liquid concentrate, or with the Chinese where they invented it and brew it directly from the leaves in hot water.  If it's such a big deal that we can't stay on the coffee side of the line anymore then lets at least drink our portion of the world's tea pie and not spread it around on our faces.  Because let's be honest, that doesn't make any sense at all.  But it seems to me that drinking it would.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wings of Death

      Hello everyone, it is the Unpaid Interns here.  Big Dave has asked us to go ahead and write a little post for you today for a very special reason.  Normally he would ask us to go ahead and post a little something for you on a Sunday morning because he was hung over from yet another evening cavorting around the countryside, hanging out the passenger side window of a 1985 Ford F-250, hitting mailboxes with a baseball bat while drinking moonshine made from a mixture of antifreeze, apple juice, paint thinner, and sparking spring water.  But not this weekend.  He has been holed up in his underground bunker buried beneath the streets of Wilmington, Delaware because he saw something that frightened him to his very soul this weekend, something that we would like to talk about and that led us to title today's post "Wings of Death."
      To be bluntly honest, part of the reason that we titles this post "Wings of Death" is because that is the name of our band that all of us Unpaid Interns play in on the days we escape the Worldwide Headquarters.  Big Dave usually says he is our manager in a lame effort to pick up chicks sometimes but we assure you that he most certainly is not.  He takes most of our money from our gigs but that still doesn't make him our manager.  Sorry, we have gone a little off topic.  The real reason that we have titled today's post "Wings of Death" is because the unbelievably frightening thing that our fearless captor saw this weekend was the very first mosquito of the year, and it is not even summer yet.
     We went out onto the Internet and did some research and were unable to find much information about how much moisture mosquitoes need to grow, or what temperatures they need to reproduce, or even how they survive the winter, but we are pretty sure that it has not been warm or wet enough to produce any of these monstrosities.  Yet, through the screams and deep psychosis that it caused Big Dave, with the help of the best hypnotist that we could afford with the money we found in his wallet, we were able to determine that as he was getting into his car after messing around with his kayak out in the woods near the lake, he saw a lone mosquito float through the open drivers side window.  In too much shock to squash it on the spot, he sat motionless in confusion as the abomination crawled up above the headliner of the vehicle.  "It pretty much made me want to cry" Big Dave noted when asked how this truly awful, depressing event made him feel.  "I haven't even had a chance to enjoy the summer yet."  
     We took the liberty of contacting some government agencies, to see if they would be able to help us in this time of great shock and need.  While the executive offices of both the state and federal government declined to declare the Worldwide Headquarters a disaster area, although FEMA did say that they would send some trailers and blankets to the area as soon as they became available.  We are still trying to figure out exactly how that will help but we are thinking that maybe we can use them as living quarters instead of having to sleep in Big Dave's breakfast nook.  We were, however, able to strike a chord with some members of the state and local bureaucracy, as the the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) immediately issued a permit to fill in all wetlands or potential wetlands within 15 miles of the DNR office to eradicate potential mosquito breeding grounds, and the county tourism council immediately agreed to seek Federal stimulus funding to fumigate most of the county.  
      So we here at Big Dave and Company wish to advise everyone to go immediately to their friendly local retailer and stock up on big spray and screen tents, because the mosquito menace is upon us at an earlier and colder and drier time than ever before, which means that we are in for a long summer.  As for us we are off to our "Wings of Death" concert, and then to buy acres of mosquito netting for the Worldwide Headquarters.  But don't tell Big Dave.  Let him stay in his bunker so we can stay out and play until winter.  Even if we have to cover ourselves with bug dope.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tom From Upon High

     There is a dirty Hollywood secret that few people are aware of. There are lots of actors and actresses who make literally piles of money, big heaping piles into which they jump and swim around as if they are Scrooge McDuck, from simply lending their voices to the millions and millions of useless, annoying commercials that appear throughout and in between our TV shows.
     Oh yeah, little known fact. Companies across the board, from Tropicana Orange Juice to General Motors to Don't Bait Shop in Uriah, Alabama hire well-known actors and actresses like George Clooney or Marlee Matlin, okay, maybe not Marlee Matlin but perhaps Minnie Driver or someone like that to do voice overs. The idea here is that on some sort of subconscious level you hear these cherished and beloved voices and it makes you feel sort of warm and fuzzy way down in your creamy center and that my friends, is what makes you buy three dozen wax worms from Don's when you really just want to use a lure anyway. So yeah. But sometimes the voice is a little too familiar and distinct, and sometimes you have a raging, mega hard boner for Magnum P.I. and you realize that Tom Selleck is pitching a bunch of stuff all the sudden.
     So yes, it happened one day. I was lying on my couch doing God knows what and suddenly I heard Tom from upon high, telling me that I should be drinking Florida Orange Juice. He told me how healthy and good for me it was, how it would perk me up in the morning and give me almost a whole day's quota of all sorts of Vitamins and stuff in just one serving. He conveniently forgot to mention, however, that one serving is like 64 gallons, and that much would give me many canker sores. For me, maybe not for everyone but for me, that's like the gilded leader beckoning me to buy this product. If the commercial would have featured him in a Ferarri and a Hawaiian shirt I would have bought into a Florida citrus farm somewhere down there. But it was just his voice, and that was enough.
     About a week later it almost drove me over the edge because I heard him shilling for the website, which is put together by a consortium of recreational vehicle associations. This pretty much brought by world and my life and most of all my brain to a rapid, screeching halt like in Smokey and the Bandit when the Alabama State Patrol car slams on its brakes and slides sideways across the pavement. So that basically happened to me. The reason that this was such a big deal was because I, as you know, basically have a man crush on Thomas Magnum AND I have always wanted an RV so it was like an orgasmic blending of influences that pretty much made me want to finance myself to the hilt in order to have a sweet popup and a truck to pull it behind. But my better judgement, lack of ambition, and the fact that I wasn't wearing any pants kept me on my couch wishing I had an RV of some sort. But then another thought sort of slipped into my mind.
     Why is Tom Selleck all of the sudden feeling the need to do voice overs for every corporation under the sun? Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration but why is he suddenly appearing, or at least his voice is appearing, in so many commercials? Has he been doing this many voice overs all this time and I have never noticed? Or has he just begun? I don't imagine he is in much financial trouble. I mean, aside from his Magnum money he's done a lot of other stuff. He had a recurring role on The Closer, and those guest spots on Friends, and he's been doing all these Jesse Stone things that no one seems to know anything about. But he keeps doing them so someone must be watching. So why the voice overs so suddenly Tom? Maybe he just got hip the idea. Or maybe he wanted a little extra to pad his retirement account what with the economy in the dumps. Or maybe he has finally realized the power of his magnificent voice and charisma. Either way it's working, because I think I'm going to get myself a nice big glass of orange juice and see how cheaply I can pick up a camper on eBay.

Friday, April 24, 2009

txt msg hell 2

     Well Company, for those of you who aren't familiar with me or the way I happen to be, I will tell you that I am not what you would call "with the times" when it comes to text messaging. I mean, I do it all the time, I send, I receive, I even use emoticons and all that jazz. But I am an old school, traditional kind of guy. All my text messages have proper grammar and punctuation with capital letters and the whole nine yards. 90% of them are even complete sentences. So I am sort of almost hip to the text message scene. But the one thing that I am lacking is an unlimited text message plan, which is exactly what Nick Andes and Doug Klinger of the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area have. Which is why it came as quite a surprise to Mr. Andes Candies when he received a roughly $26,000 phone bill from T-Mobile.
     So what exactly, would one have to do to receive a $26,000 bill for cellular phone service. What exactly causes an inches-thick itemized bill that costs $27.55 just to mail to appear in one's mailbox? How about 140,000 text messages. Nick and Doug have been texting each other since they met at Berks Technical Institute over ten years ago. It was this overly productive text message relationship that led them to the decision that they should be the world record holders for text messaging. So they went into the wild and wonderful world of the Internet and the largest number they could find was 182,000 text messages sent in one month in 2005 my a person in India. So the were able to figure out how to rig up their phones to send multiple messages at once and off they went. A test run in February taught them that they could send 6,000-7,000 messages in one day, so they decided that March would be the month that they set the record.
      And set the record they did. Sort of. But not really. See, Nick sent 140,000 messages give or take. And Doug sent maybe 70,000. I consulted Dr. Elizabeth Allman, Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, and she was able to confirm that both of those totals are well below the 182,000 that Deepak Sharma sent in India way back in 2005. So how do they think that they are record holders? Well, they sent 217,000 messages between the two of them (I know, the math doesn't match up, but we are very much speaking in generalizations here. Dr. Allman already alerted me to that fact.) and should count for something, right?
     Well, the good people at the Guinness Book of World Records aren't sure yet. But T-Mobile is sure. They sent the bill for $26,000 to Nick for the 140,000 text messages, most of which were short, one word phrases like "lol" or "Hello." Not exactly $26,000 worth of conversation, now is it? Nick, as would be expected, flipped out and called T-Mobile. I would do the same thing if I had unlimited texting and I received a War and Peace-sized bill. T-Mobile, for their part apologized for the inconvenience and credited his account accordingly. Which is good because I highly doubt that oversized cardboard check for $26,000 that Mr. Andes cut to T-Mobile would have cashed. They are, of course, also investigating the charges.
     So what the moral here Big Dave, what have we learned? Well, first of all, your unlimited text plan might not be unlimited. So cool it with the texts to those teenagers you met at the mini-golf course. Second of all, if you have an error go ahead and call the company on it. In this case, T-Mobile probably could have collected and charged egregious misuse or something, but it was just easier to swallow the bill because of the public relations nightmare that it would have caused to charge the guy. Right? And for you and I it's such a small amount they'd be eating they are happy to keep you paying $75 per month for services that only cost them $23 to provide. So they will do an awful lot to keep you around, now won't they? Trust me, $50 per month adds up, not multiply that by how many million subscribers? Think about it. Or text about it. Then you are only 216,999 more away from the record.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wombat Paper

     People in Australia are making paper out of wombat crap that other people are buying as souvenirs.  I am not making this up.





      I am assuming that by now that has had a chance to sink in.  And that you have had the opportunity to pass out and that the friendly local EMTs have been able to revive you and that your Internet connection has not timed out.  Which means we are in good shape, which is more than I can say for the town of Burnie in northwest Tasmania, which is that island that sticks off the bottom of Australia and is the home to the Tasmanian devil.  The town, like many others in the industrialized world, has been hit hard by round after round of job cuts, according to the BBC.  But it has apparently found its salvation in the dirty, smelly feces generated by the wombat, a furry marsupial found in the wild only in Australia.  
     Well, somebody in this seaside town has decided to make paper out of the copious amount of foo that these animals leave lying around.  Actually, to be more technically correct it is all the foo that one wombat, a little guy appropriately named Nugget who lives in a wildlife park near Cradle Mountain in central Tasmania.  Every day his handlers or trainers or someone at the wildlife park scrapes up all of Nugget's nuggets and sends them off to Creative Paper manager Darren Simpson who boils them, sterilizes them, rinses them, rolls them, pats them, then marks them "B" as my niece likes to say.  Then he sells it and tourists buy it.
      In fact they have been clamoring for it.  Creative Paper began by selling paper made out of kangaroo poo but soon it became clear that what the people really wanted was wombat crap paper.  Oh man.  Just the thought of toilet paper made from poop is making my head spin.  Anyway, apparently people visiting want a keenly Australian souvenir to take home, and I am guessing that when the customs people see that on your declaration they don't bother to ask.  I don't know exactly when a boomerang or a Greg Norman hat stopped being Australian enough for the turistas, but whatever.  I am sort of wondering though about who is coming through this beach community.  I mean, I've never heard of it and I am super smart, so I can't imagine that there are many Americans wandering through, but then again what do I know.  Still, I can't help but to think that Americans uniquely would be asking for paper made out of the dung of a small furry animal.  I don't know and I don't care.
      What I do care about is that somewhere out there someone is using a $26 ink pen to scribble out an absence note on paper made from the poop of a wombat.  I suppose that when you think about it in the right way it's just taking the long, less-than-scenic route from Point A to Point B.  I mean, paper starts as trees right?  So the paper is still basically made from the same stuff, just processed by a wombat AND a guy in a paper factory as opposed to just a guy in a paper factory.  Well no, not exactly.  See, wombats don't really eat trees except for the bark, but they eat a lot of grasses and roots.  So I guess that the paper should probably be called papyrus.  Or maybe poopyrus.  Okay, that was bad, I apologize.
      The moral of the story here kids is that people will buy the strangest things for the strangest reasons, so don't be afraid to create something that's a little off kilter.  As long as you can find the right niche to fill you won't be just some weirdo, you will be some weirdo with lots of cash, and that's okay.
      Oh man.  I would like to discuss this with you further, but I have to run.  It's time for me to go make some paper, if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

Okay kids, it's Earth Day. Whoo freaking hoo. Every year a bunch of tree huggers barge into our St. Peaches Day celebration with their green and blue and their save the environment and their hybrid cars and VW busses. But really, it's cool. The only problem that I have with Earth Day is that it has sort of become the cause celebre of 2009, and so it has become extremely annoying.
First of all, we can't even decide on which day is actually Earth Day. Most of the world celebrates it today, April 22, every year. But the United Nations, which maybe should come down from its building in New York and look around once in a while, chooses to celebrate it on the vernal equinox. And why not? I mean, we wouldn't want the world's governing body to go ahead and recognize what billions of its constituents are doing, now would we? No. It's frustrating. The UN is to Earth Day what the US is to measuring things (Get it, because everyone else uses the metric system? Well I thought it was a good one, anyway.) and no one seems to care. Way to put a disastrous pinprick in the balloon of Earth Day, United Nations.
Luckily, like with most other things, not many people listen to the United Nations when it comes to Earth Day and most of us celebrate it today. The problem is that Earth Day has sort of become hollow. It served a great purpose for a great cause when Gaylord Nelson sort of inaugurated it in 1969, but now the activities that it was started to promote have mostly become commonplace. Think about it. It's pretty much second nature for you to recycle, right? Most of us aren't dumping used motor oil down storm drains anymore, right? There are windmills being erected on ridge tops all over the place, right? Even our landfills are being turned around and are used to create methane gas, which is used to power factories and sewage treatment plants, which is the most ironic of all its uses I think. So we have done pretty good.
Of course, there is still a lot of work left to do, especially when it comes to things like our cars, which SHOULD be getting 50 mpg but are still getting 28 like mine. So maybe Earth Day just needs to shift its focus. Maybe it needs to pull a March of Dimes-like presto change-o. When they were able to basically eradicate polio they changed themselves to start fighting premature birth, which is something that will never go away no matter how hard we try. So maybe that's the best direction for Earth Day. Let it focus on renewable energy and that sort of thing so that it can live on forever.
So yeah, go Earth Day. Just please remember that it isn't enough to be conscious of your environment only on April 22, okay? The idea here is to take the idea and principles set forth on Earth Day and adhere to them all throughout your life. Now, I am not saying that you have to go out and buy totally organic biodegradable hemp clothing made by a commune of midgets in the California foothills of the Sierra Nevada. I mean, it's fine if you want to but all I am asking for is that you just maybe don't throw your McDonalds cup out the car window, or just turn off the lights when you leave the room; little things like that which make a big difference once they start adding up. Flying the Earth Day flag (shown above) and plastering your Jetta with stickers of the surprisingly disturbing Earth Day symbol (also shown above) is all fine and good but it means nothing whatsoever if you are filling wetlands for fun, okay? It is as simple as turning your computer off at night, people. So if you are going to talk the talk then be prepared to walk the walk in your life. It's only fair. And it's the only way that you will ever be able to make a difference. And that's just how it is. Happy Earth Day everyone.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Questions I Want Answered

1.) In men's bathrooms there is always a urinal that is set lower to the ground for short people and children. Why is there not a urinal set up high for very tall people or performers on stilts? It seems to me that it's a bit of a double standard.

2.) How come you drive on the parkway and park on the driveway? Screw you. The parkway is not named after semi-permanently stopping your vehicle in one place, it's so named because there are supposed to be trees and flowers and grass and ornamental bridges as part of the deal. That was the idea behind the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut, which was the original one. If you see a "Something Parkway" in the middle of an industrial park or something it's a fucking liar.And your driveway is called such because it lets you drive from your road to your house or garage. This is not that hard people. So I guess my question here is this: Why do people keep asking this stupid question? Why can't anyone figure this out?

3.) Can you really use peanuts to make nitroglycerin or was George Washington Carver just messing with us?

4.) Is there any way that we can lock up the morons who try to say that water should have no taste? Because that's the most retarded thing I have ever heard. Of course your water should taste like something. Even distilled bottled overpriced store water has SOME taste. It might be the taste of plastic and carcinogens from the bottling equipment, but it's still a taste. I can understand maybe not wanting your water to taste like the fluoride solution they use at the dentist, but does it really hurt to have your H2O tasting like some minerals? I don't think so.

5.) Who invented the recliner and where can I send them a gift? Or if they are dead where are they buried so I can put flowers on their grave? Because they deserve it because they are great, and recliners are great, and that sort of greatness should be rewarded. I am going to get my best scientists and my laziest unpaid interns right on it so I can get the info and take action. It's only right.

Monday, April 20, 2009

St. Peaches Day

      Holy shit boys and girls, I don't know if you have noticed but today is April 20, which means that it is St. Peaches Day all throughout the land.  If you have not done so already, you should probably get up, go outside, and throw confetti in your bushes.  That is how Daniel Tosh celebrates Daylight Savings Time and that is the only way to celebrate St. Peaches Day.  You throw confetti in your bushes and then eat a cupcake and watch The Cannonball Run on VHS.  Hey, don't argue with me, that is just how St Peaches Day is celebrated.  In some parts of the American Northeast these festivities are celebrated while wearing a pirate outfit (as shown above), a custom that is rapidly gaining popularity in other areas as well.  After throwing confetti in ones bushes and eating cupcakes and watching The Cannonball Run on VHS while dressed as a pirate St. Peaches Day celebrants generally congregate in hallways of dormatories and youth hostels and chain hotels and play with Legos while people walk by.  Please do not question this traditional celebration of this, one of the greatest holidays ever known to man.  Their origins are mysterious and date back to the turn of the century when St. Peaches Day began to be celebrated widely.
     St. Peaches Day is an ancient holiday, having been celebrated for over 300 hours by people all across North America, from the deserts of Nevada to the flat plains of Lower Michigan to the Piedmont of South Carolina.  The native tribes of Arctic Quebec have been known to celebrate the day with feats of grilled caribou and canned tomatoes.  The holiday is also celebrated in Mexico by the hundreds of American twenty-somethings who flock there to lie on the beach all day long and get laid by random people while chugging cheap tropical drinks.  St. Peaches Day also enjoys a strong following in Hilo, Hawai'i.
     So now that you know a little background information I guess that my question is this: Why are you waiting around to start celebrating this most wonderful of all holidays?  I mean, come on.  It is better and more exciting than Christmas, Arbor Day, and V-E Day combined.  And you get to eat cupcakes, something that no other holiday can boast.  It is easy to start, let me tell you how.  First, print out this post on some of the finest colored construction paper that money can buy.  Then rip it up into tiny little pieces, placing the pieces into a bucket or bowl of some sort as you create them.  Once all the papers have been ripped into tiny pieces, take the bowl outside and throw the pieces of paper festively into your front bushes, whether they be lilac or arbor vitae or some other stupid variety.  If you perhaps live in an apartment or FEMA tent city just use any bushes you can find.  I am sure you neighbor or insurance claims adjuster has some at their home or place of business.  I believe that you will find that once you go ahead with the confetti-throwing the rest will just sort of fall in line, and before you know it you will be celebrating St. Peaches Day like a pro, like the very handsome man pictured above.  Just try it, it is great.  Enjoy.  And Happy Saint Peaches Day to everyone!  I am off to play with my Legos.

Editor's Note: If you want to learn more about St. Peaches Day please click here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Where Are the Peas?

     Hmmm...let's talk about the grocery store, shall we, Company?  I have been know, many times in my life in fact, to wander aimlessly around the grocery store.  Back in the day before I moved the Worldwide Headquarters I used to make a living out of strolling the grocery store in the middle of the night.  So the fact that I spent like two hours wandering aimlessly around one of the friendly local grocery stores yesterday should really come as no surprise.  The reason why I was doing this, though, is a bit off-putting.
     Normally I would be wandering the isles of the grocery store because I have nothing better to do, or because I am trying to get something for dinner but I am not quite sure what I want, or because I am a bit of a hefty gentleman and the grocery store is like my cathedral.  But today that was not the case.  I was simply trying and failing to go grocery shopping. 
     About a week ago I opened up one of the many cupboards that line my Worldwide Headquarters and happened upon a noticeable lack of non-perishable food items.  Oh yeah, I was face to face with hectares worth of brown fake wood inside the cupboards.  So I moved on to the trusty refrigerator where I was confronted with well-stocked condiment shelves on the door, and a six-pack of beer, and a half-inch of milk in a God-knows how old jug, but little else.  I got a very good look at the bare wire shelves that came with my Frigidaire.  In fact, it was about as close to what a refrigerator looks like new as one can get with a currently working unit.  It was what one would call a "bachelor fridge."  This seems appropriate as I am a bachelor, but I like to eat.  And the Unpaid Interns wouldn't shut up so I thought I should throw them a sandwich or two.  So it was time to go grocery shopping.
      And grocery shopping I did.  Back in the day, I used to be a one-grocery store kind of guy; loyal to a fault with the one store that I always went to.  I actually felt like a traitor and a weirdo when I would go to the other store, especially when it was for something my usual didn't carry.  But here?  No so much.  And I am not sure why.  I move fluidly back and forth between the two grocery stores in town with nary a care, and I am not even going to make and suggestions as to why.  I don't care.  I just know that's how it works with me now.  One could say that I am a changed man I guess.
     But anyway, I don't shop very often (as you may have surmised already) so sometimes it can be months between my visits to one particular of my two grocery stores, and in a span of months sometimes things get changed around a little bit.  That's understandable.  But this time it was ri-God-damn-diculous.  I literally wandered around for hours like Moses in the desert looking for shit.  I had a list that I had made out several days ago and had been carrying around in my wallet for some sort of osmosis process or something and I was so confused when I got behind the wheel of my shopping cart that I forgot that it even existed, let alone what was on it.  So that certainly did not help matters at all.  But the real thing that was impeding my progress was the fact that I apparently was unable to figure out where any food item was located.
     First of all, whomever makes the decisions about where to put things in grocery stores must be smoking the reefer in the parking lot before punching the time clock, because nothing makes sense.  See, in the process of learning life we as social humans learn certain grouping skills.  For instance, if we see a pile of Legos lying on the floor we have this tendency to go ahead and pile the blue ones in a little pile over here, and the red ones in a pile over there, maybe the yellow ones in a pile on the other side of the red ones.  Most people.  Not the grocery store guys.  I am thinking that agents from national grocery store chains and the National Grocers Association actually go around from school to school in Canada and America and recruit the kids who are mixing the piles of different colored blocks together to go to a special training center to learn how to mess with the public head by putting things in crazy places.  Because here I am, standing in the middle of this bigass grocery store with no idea of where anything is and no idea where to find it.  I mean, there are some things that sort of get encoded into your grocery DNA, like the fact that the pickles and mustard are always by the ketchup, and that the meat is always in the back, that kind of stuff.  Like marshmallows.  Where do you do to find marshmallows?  They aren't on the big signs over the isles, so where do you start when looking for them?  I guarantee you that they aren't where you first look.  What about french fried onions for your green bean casserole?  Or tapioca?  Tortilla shells?  Yeah, in my supermarket they aren't by the Mexican food, they are by the pasta.  What the hell is with that?  
    And that was the stuff that they haven't moved around.  A while ago the good people at the grocery store decided to move around everything in the frozen food section.  Okay, fine.  I can deal with that.  But what they did after that is just sinister.  Since the last time I was there they took a couple of very small coolers within the frozen food section, which led to my wandering around that section for a half hour looking for frozen peas.  It was so bad that I was actually going back to the cooler where the peas were located before the first big change, which is now filled with frozen pizzas.  Or maybe that was the cooler where the frozen peas are located at the other store, I don't really know.  I was in a state of bewilderment, and I am lucky I was able to get out alive.  
      So I am not sure what I am going to do with myself.  I guess that I am going to have to go to the grocery store more often, like daily or perhaps on a weekly basis.  Maybe I should go scout the place out a day before shopping, maybe take A-Town and have him make a map for me.  I just don't know, but something has to give here.  One of these days I am going to go in there and not come out, and it won't be for a good reason.  Or - and here's a radical suggestion - maybe the grocery store SHOULD STOP MOVING ALL THEIR SHIT AROUND.  Man, that was easy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Ending Puberty on April Eighteenth

      Remember how I was talking the other day about the best way to deal with making a mistake?  Well, I find myself taking my own advice again.  Unless you are still drunk from last night, you have probably noticed that I have come slinking back to the old standard "Minima Dark."  I wish I could have it combined with "Minima Lefty" to make "Minima Lefty Dark" because that is what I really want, but it's not available and you can't always get what you want.  At least that's what The Rolling Stones told me, and you, and everyone else in the world.  So anyway, I hated the dots, you hated the dots, and the American people hated the dots.  Now we are back to the classic black, sophisticated, strong background.  And we have managed to come full circle.  ON April Fool's Day we entered puberty and the dots appeared like so much acne.  It's true, just think about it.  There were blackheads and whiteheads and girls found it unattractive.  And now, as we've gone on in life we've grown up into something more substantial and appropriate and our complexion has cleared up.  Oh, and apparently we are black.  Who knew?  But the bottom line is that the dots were driving me nutso, and I probably look at Big Dave and Company more than all of you combined.  So it had to go.  There's nothing wrong with admitting your mistake and going back to the truster.  So that's what I did.  That's all for today, go out and enjoy your Saturday.  I know I am.


     Invariably, as I travel around I always come upon some car that features a huge, gaudy, GPS screen mounted right in the middle of the windshield where back in the day we used to mount radar detectors.  Always.  And it's always dutifully showing the route that the vehicle in question is taking at a ridiculously small scale.  This is extra-hilarious on the freeway because in general if you are on a trip on the freeway you are basically going straight on the same highway for hundreds and hundreds of miles, so that little screen just keeps showing an arrow moving straight over and over and over for hour after hour after hour, which is the most retarded thing in the world.  Well, not the most but it is right up there.  And I am going to tell you why: If you are on an Interstate and you need a GPS to keep telling you to go straight mile after mile after mile then you probably shouldn't be driving.
     Just in case you haven't figured it out yet, please allow my give this comparison so that you might see my stance on the GPS issue.  I don't have a little screen anywhere on my dashboard region that displays anything.  While that tool in the SUV is staring at the GPS for mile after mile my road atlas is lying comfortably in my back seat next to an ever growing pile of Mountain Dew bottles.  Yep, I prefer the old way of sitting down before I go and figuring out where I need to turn and whatnot.  I don't need a voice and a screen to tell me once I get there.  And you know why?  Because then this type of stuff doesn't happen to me.  I found the following article on a local TV station's website, but it originally came from the Associated Press:

Langlade, Wis (AP) - A motorist relying on a GPS navigation unit found out the hard way that technology is not always the answer.
     Sheriff's officials said the Oshkosh woman was going from the White Lake area to Laona through heavily wooded Langlade County Tuesday when the best routing from the GPS sent her onto a road that forked into a snowmobile trail.
     Several miles down the frozen path she stopped and couldn't turn around in about a foot and a half of snow surrounding the car.
     She called 911 at 10:44 a.m.
     Deputy Keith Svoboda said it took a while to find her and much longer to get heavy equipment in to free the vehicle.  Deputies dropped her at a motel for the night.
     Svoboda said the lesson is, "People shouldn't believe everything those things tell you."

    Well okay then.  This is the first time I have ever heard about this happening but let's be honest, it's happened somewhere before.  Those people were just lucky enough to be able to get themselves out of their predicament.  And it's happened with maps too, I have to admit.  There have been times when even I have been using a map and a road or trail I have turned down hasn't been what I thought it would be.  But the thing about using a map is that you either have to have someone riding with you or you sort of have to stop ahead of time and plan, so that when you are doing the driving you are actually paying attention.  With a GPS?  Not always the case.  This lady obviously wasn't paying attention, because when my GPS tells me to turn down a road that is very obviously dirt or gravel and is very obviously not well traveled, that is about the time I am going to tell my GPS to go f#@k itself.  Oh yeah.  
     The reason that this lady got in trouble is because she is dumb and put too much faith into her technology without knowing how it works.  And she didn't have enough faith in herself.  Anyone who knows a little about computers or searching knows that your GPS is either going to search by shortest route or by shortest time, and that if it's going by route it's not going to differentiate between types of roads.  The GPS won't care if it is a freeway or a deer trail, if it's shorter it will choose it and send you down it.  And sometimes, mapmakers and software engineers put roads on their maps that really shouldn't be.  If you put too much faith in the GPS and the work these people in far off cubicles have done then you are going to end up like the lady in our story: embarrassed, lucky to be alive, and stuck with a hefty extraction bill.
    Now, I know many people who have GPS units and love them.  And use them extensively.  And that's okay.  There is nothing wrong with using the technology to help you get where you are going.  But the key is that you can't put complete and total faith in it.  There are too many x-factors in the real world that can't be programmed into a little screen that suction cups to your windshield, okay?  Maybe addresses are on the wrong side of the street on one particular block.  Maybe two roads have been rerouted so a left turn is now a straight ahead.  Or maybe the little red line you are supposed to be following is my neighbors from walk.  You have to be aware of what's going on around you and be willing and able to use your common sense when things stop feeling right.  If this lady would have just payed attention and stayed on the state highway when she turned off into the woods she would have found her way no problem eventually.  In fact, she would have been seeing signs pointing towards her destination in about a half hour, and everyone would have been happier.  So please use your brains, Company.  Because technology is great but only if you are smart enough to interpret it.  Okay?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Your Feet Smell Like Fish

     Sometimes people are stupid. And sometimes we worry about the wrong things; like our priorities are in the wrong place. And sometimes the government takes itself a little too seriously. And sometimes all of these things come together in like a perfect storm of pure ridiculousness that will literally make your brain leak out of your ear. So you'd better make sure that you have a cup or some paper towels or something nearby, because this is going to be one of those times. And it's all going to start when you read this next sentence: The State of Wisconsin is currently deciding whether or not to allow a recently opened fish pedicure parlor in suburban Milwaukee to continue to operate.
     I sort of feel like a spaceman in a bad 60s movie that is fighting a giant green blob on some obscure, rocky planet that somehow has a breathable atmosphere in that I am not exactly sure how to successfully attack this thing. Like, I could poke it with a stick repeatedly but it would just sink in. I could shoot it with bullets but they would die on the way through and do no real damage like they were going through ballistics gel or something. So I've decided that I am just going to go at it in order. Ready?
      Sometimes people are stupid. Well all know this. You've done stupid things. I've done stupid things. The Unpaid Interns have done stupid things. We all have. So I am not sure why I am so surprised and dismayed that people are letting fish suck on their feet. Here's the deal: A new salon has opened up in suburban Milwaukee where, for a scant $35 you can get a fish pedicure. Now, the fish aren't going to sit there and file your nails and paint then and all that jazz. But what they will do when you stick your feet in the fish-filled tub at the foot of your snazzy chair is suck on your feet like they are in a fetish movie or something. Dozens and dozens of these special garra rufa fish imported from China and Malaysia will take thousands of tiny bites of tough, calloused skin of your gross, nasty sailor feet for 15 minutes causing your feet to feel soft and smooth.
     And people are doing it. In fact, people are driving from the farthest reaches of the galaxy to do it. Okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration. But one of the clients in there on the day the reporter who wrote the article I read was in there drove from about an hour away. But most of the people gathered around the storefront in the mall were basically just curious as to what was going on, afraid to take their shoes off and give it a whirl. Which is smart. Because I wouldn't put my feet in there. Nuh uh. No way no how. Because I know absolutely nothing about garra rufa fish and what they are capable of. The only stories I ever hear involving fish and feet are when people stick their toes in the Amazon and a horde of pirhannas come and strip their toes down to the bone. Yeah, I don't want that at all. So I'd be sitting in the chair at the place with my feet in the tub hoping that no one I know sees me and thinking about the fish devouring my feet and my blood pressure would be about 265 over 180. Who discovered this anyway? What Chinese man was lying around in the Yangtze and was like "Man, these fish biting me all the time are annoying as hell but they make the skin on my back smooth. I bet they would work wonders on my feet!" Except he would be thinking that in Chinese I would assume. Or maybe Italian if he was Marco Polo. But anyway, how was this discovered? I know that many times these fish are used to help cure and relieve suffering from skin diseases, but egotistical prick decided to start using them for their feet?
      Sometimes people worry about the wrong things. And the guy who decided to start using fish to make his feet smoother is definitely worry about the wrong things. Or he's just a genius who is making a PILE off the rest of us worrying about the wrong things. Either way, this is a great example of people with too much money to burn and too much time on their hands. Because I don't know about you, Company, but I don't really have a whole lot of time to sit around looking at my feet. And really have a lot less time worrying about how smooth they are. In fact, I usually go the other way. See, in my mind your feet should be tough and strong because you walk on them all day long. And I actually walk barefoot a lot in the summer so the tougher and dirtier my feet are the happier I probably am. In fact, I wear it like a badge of honor sometimes.
     Now, you are going to get some people who are on their feet all day long: delivery drivers, mailmen, shoe testers, nurses, etc. that are going to say that the fish gnawing on their feet feels like thousands of little pinpricks and that it feels good on their tired and heavily used feet. Fine, I can maybe buy that. I mean, people do acupuncture, right? But for the typical desperate housewife or Office Space cubicle monkey that doesn't really fly, no matter HOW much time you spend in high heels. You've got to have a pretty good excuse to get out of being vain as far as I am concerned. Even if it's made up. Tell me that you are a foot model. Tell me that your wife has a foot fetish. Tell me that you are an acrobat and lots of people handle your tootsies as they throw you up in the air, I don't care. Just make something up. Because I don't want to think that you are egotistical when it comes to your feet. Oy maybe just come clean and say "Hey, I like to have soft feet." and that's fine. I will at least respect you for owning up and admitting it.
     The government takes itself a little too seriously. If this were a soap opera, right now there would be some sort of dramatic music, and an actor or actress who just said some dramatic line would be giving some dramatic start at someone just off to the left of the camera. Or some actor or actress who just got called out on something or just got bad news would be staring painfully at someone or something just off to the right of the camera. And then we would cut to commercial. Because this is where the danger comes in. And it comes in the form of the Wisconsin Department of Regulation & Licensing. Shop (or boutique, please excuse me) owner Gerald Williamson notes in the article that it makes him nervous every time that the phone rings because it might be the State calling with their decision about whether or not to allow the place to remain open. Wait, what? That's right, Gerald and his fish are under the gun, directly in the sights of the bureaucracy. The DRL is trying to decide if the fish pedicure business is one that needs to be regulated, or is even able to be regulated and licensed. I am thinking though that this is horseshit. Of course it's able to be regulated or licensed, and if anyone is going to figure it out it's the boys and girls with the state. I mean, why not license it like any other business using animals for human gain, like riding stables or petting zoos or whatever. Of course they can license and regulate it. If they call you and tell you that they can't, Gerald, then they are lying and they just don't want it around, okay? That's the bottom line. Some states have outlawed them completely, which is a form of regulation. So for now the State is dragging its feet (as usual) and the people and fish affected are living in anxiety. And so the world continues to turn. Maybe Gerald should get a fish pedicure and relax himself, how does that sound?