Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Listen to the Music

So, Company, I don't know if you realize this not too long ago I bought myself a new vehicle. Well not new new, but new to me. Since, however, it was only a couple of years old it might as well have been new, so as you could imagine, it had a pretty nice stereo. Stereo, CD, mp3, big buttons and knobs, neat green lights, the whole nine yards. But...yeah, there's a but. There is always a but. But, I hate it. I shouldn't say that, hate is a strong word. But I really, really, really don't like it. I mean, it had good enough sound, looked good in the middle of the dash, and that was just fine. I still didn't like it. In fact, aside from the way it looked in there the only thing that I liked about the damn thing was this one little button that muted it when you had a phone call or something.
So there. Above, around, and between all of the things I didn't like about the damn factory stereo I managed to go ahead and find on feature that I really, really found helpful and neat. And I liked it. So I put everything down and sort of made a list, and when you compared the two sides the side that said "pros" was much, much shorter than the side that said "cons." So that made things pretty clear to me: If I were going to drive this vehicle for the next five or seven or ten years I want it to be exactly like I want it. So it was off to the store to get an aftermarket stereo.
That's a lie. I didn't go anywhere. I ordered one online. And it came, as all things ordered online or purchased in stores should, with everything I needed to install it save the tools. Oh, and a 100 ohm resistor. There was a 47 ohm model, a 150 ohm, a 200 ohm, 300 ohm, etc. model, but no 100 ohm resistor. Bold strategy. So I figured that out with the help of Jimmy James, who also helped me figure out the terrible instructions and what had to go where, and I set out to put it in. I did, however, have to get a new set of instructions from the manufacturer of one of the parts. Off to a good start then.
I can do car stereos, okay? No problem, not an issue. I have done this over half a dozen times in fact, on a variety of different cars. I have taken the entire dashboard apart at times, an operation that took over two days, and I have put in stereos that have taken roughly twenty minutes. It's a rather simple thing in theory, and I am not generally afraid of it. I have, however, never had the need to splice anything - simple electrical connectors worked just fine, and I have never been asked to do anything with the actual electrical system of my car other than to splice into it. So when I got the wiring harness to hook my sweet new stereo up to my steering wheel controls and it told me I was going to have to cut into all sorts of wires and whatnot to get it to work, and I was going to have program the thing with nothing more than one button and one light, I was nervous. No, let's call a spade a spade here folks, I was flat-out scared.
Maybe that is because this is my first grown-up car. Maybe that is because I never worried if I was messing up my shitty cars. Maybe that is because I was younger and wilder. I don't know. But I was definitely scared. So I rounded up Mike-a-licious to hold my hand and do some soldering on my behalf. To illustrate how nervous I was, I actually disconnected the negative lead on my battery in order to keep things from shorting out. I have never done that before. When the time came to plug the battery back in and actually turn the key away from the relative safety of the "OFF" position, I hesitated. I dawdled. I didn't want to do it. I was prepared to run away with smoke wafting up from the hole where my stereo should be. But that didn't happen. It didn't happen at all. It worked. And it worked well.
So now I am tasked with figuring out how the damn thing works and setting it up for myself, which is half the fun. But I am still wary of the whole thing. I am waiting for wires to melt and smoke to pour and insurance agents to call me and let me know that I am not covered for modifications I did myself. I will, I expect, be able to enjoy things more once I have driven around for a couple of days, maybe a week. Until then I guess I will just have to crank up the music to drown out that annoying nagging voice in my head.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Yak Channel

So, could somebody out there please explain to me why The Travel Channel is so devoted to showing me shows with all sorts of gross-ass food on them? I mean, I don't need to see shows about people eating things that make me want to vomit. They might as well just rename it The Yak Channel because it makes me want to yak all over my keyboard.
Yeah, The Yak Channel. That has a nice ring to it; it really does. I mean, I am sure that there are going to be a fair number of people out there who are expecting something else, and most of them will most likely be upset that they are forking over to the cable or satellite company for a channel devoted to an animal in which they are not interested that live, well, to be honest I don't know where the yak lives. I have no idea to where it is native, but I can only assume that it is the mountains somewhere. Anyway, they will be angry that there is a channel devoted to the yak, but you know what? That anger will be misguided, because it will really be the freshly renamed Travel Channel, which should be called The Yak Channel because all it does is make me puke.
I just saw a picture of a guy kneading dough by hopping up and down with his crotch on a bamboo pole. Now, that doesn't gross me out because it's not like the dough is in his crotch, but that kind of weight and pressure on my family jewels would certainly make me yak. I mean, the noodles that come out look pretty fantastic, but still. Guys, have you ever been whacked in the crotchal region? Yeah, you know what I am talking about.
What's on next? Oh, it's a show where a guy eats gross stuff. How fucking original. What's he eating today? Seems to me it is octopus ink sacks, boiled in broth of course, and zebra testicles in a nice tomato sauce. That can't be right. Here is the deal: just because people eat it somewhere doesn't mean that it's good or that you should be eating it. It probably just means that they were hungry and it didn't make them sick. Let's be honest here people. Hey, Yak Channel guy, back in the days when they would go exploring in the Arctic they would eat the leather of their boots and shoes once they ran out of supplies, just to survive. Are you going to have your next show live on location from Foot Locker?
Hmmm...there must be another show somewhere around here, right? Oh, okay. Here is one where the guy goes out around the world and sees what's going on. He rides a train in India. He goes to a shopping mall in Singapore. He seems to be standing on a street corner in Mexico somewhere. Okay, that's better. This is the kind of show that I would expect to see on The Travel Channel, back before I renamed it The Yak Channel. What's he doing now? Oh, wait, he seems to be eating guinea pig noses cooked over a greasy piece of coal out in the middle of a traffic circle, because apparently they are so much better there than in the restaurant. Moron. No matter what they are still boiled guinea pig noses, it doesn't matter a whole lot where they are cooked. Camel fat on skewer for dessert? Yeah, sure, why the hell not. Blech. Way to be sneaky about that show though by making me think it was actually about travelling around, not just about eating gross-ass things.
So yeah, Travel Channel, that's the deal. You should rename yourself the Yak Channel because you aren't really about travel anymore, you are mostly about making me projectile vomit all around whatever room I happen to be in: living room, dentist office waiting room, airport departure lounge, wherever. It doesn't matter. Because when I see the guy put a handful of beetle larvae in his mouth and describe how they pop when you bite them, I am done. That is it. Call in the janitor with his mop and bucket because that is where this is going to end up, regardless of what you try to say. The Yak Channel got me again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Funny The Way It Is

Well Company, I am not going to give you what you are probably expecting today, and I'm going to tell you way. Let's begin by noting that this past weekend in was in the Chicago area with CaraBeara and The Pharaoh in order to see a Dave Matthews Band concert. He had Willie Nelson opening for him, which was pretty sweet since even if you aren't a fan of Willie Nelson, he is still a legend and at least now I can go to my deathbed saying that I had a chance to see him live. Anyway, we spent a day tooling around Chicago, and all in all I had a fantastic time. The reason that I am not going to give you what you are probably expecting is because, aside from what you just read, I am not going to give you any sort of a recap. I am not going to get into what songs were played and in what order, I am not going to tell you in excruciating detail about the drunken kid who had the seat in front of me, I am not going to give you the rundown of what I did while tooling around the Windy City.
What I am, however going to do is marvel at exactly how the entire weekend experience made me just sort of wax philosophical the whole time through, which is a tough task because I am not ever sure that I can come close to explaining it. As I sat at the top of the John Hancock building with a drink in my hand I had a blog post starting to form and spin in my head. As I sat at the DMB concert waiting for him to come back for the encore I had a blog post starting to form and spin in my head. As I drove into town on the Dan Ryan I had a blog post starting to form and spin in my head. As I stared out the window into the approaching blackness of the thunderstorm as a tornado warning was broadcast across the TV I had this sense that I was in a bad action flick and pretty soon we'd see Helen Hunt and either Bill Paxton or Bill Pullman (does it really matter which at this point? I am starting to believe that they may be the same person) come through trying to take all sorts of measurements, but that's neither here nor there. The point here, Company, is that all through the weekend I had these little blog posts that would grow in my mind and then be forgotten as the weekend carried on.
The thing about these blog posts, however, is, well, there are two things really. First, that they kept coming up scared me. That means that I am starting to look at the world from a blogger's eye, or at least I was last weekend for some reason, which sort of scares me. I am starting to wonder if this thing in taking over my brain. The extremely scary thing to me though, is the form that these potential blog posts were taking, from what I remember about them. They were not rants, although I certainly could have made several good rants out of some of the r-tards that we came across during our weekend, but they all had more like an observational or philosophical bent. I don't know why I this kept happening - I was most certainly having a good time - it's just that every situation that came up sort of triggered that sort of idea in my head. It's really hard to explain; I am not doing an adequate job of it. I am not doing this strange phenomenon justice.
Let's get one thing clear here, Company. I am not worried about this. I am not concerned. I just wanted to bring this issue to your attention. I was in the third largest city in America, filled with fun and interesting things to do, hanging out with wonderful friends, and for some reason my brain was getting all philosophical. Strange.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

So You're A Lazy Sack of Shit...

So you're a lazy sack of shit. That's fine. Just stay away from me. Because, it's one thing to be lazy, that's okay. I am very lazy. If I had my way I would lie around doing nothing all day long. But I am not a lazy sack of shit. This is a lot like Chris Rock's idea of n------ vs. black people. I don't mind lazy people at all. Because lazy people will still at least get up and do SOME productive things. So now I am going to give everyone some tips to not be a lazy sack of shit.
1. Get a job. And once you get a job, go to it. And so a little work while you are there. Seriously. I don't care what job you get. Hot dog vendor. Tollbooth operator. Architect. Just something. And make sure you go to your job. If you get a job then don't go, you will be fired, then you are just back to square one. This is not that hard of a concept people. Go to your job or go to hell. And once you have mastered going to work, make sure that you do something while you are there. Don't get all mad when they ask you to do something. That's the idea. You do things for them and they give you money. I know, it is a complicated system. And why would you want to trade your services when you can lie around your mom and dad's basement and have the state pay your way? Just remember this. Unemployment is for people who lost their job through no fault of their own, and it is to sustain them while they look for another one. Not to sustain you while you try to get to level 71 on World of Warcraft. Disability is for someone who can't work in any job because of a work related accident. Not someone who tweaked their back playing lawn darts. And social security is for old people who have paid in for 50-odd years. So the long and short of it is to go get a job, show up, and actually work. Don't complain about having to work for your money. That's called normal.
2. Get an apartment. Oh my, I know, it seems complicated. But don't get worried. Go look at the classifieds, maybe cruise around town, and find a For Rent sign. Then, sign the lease (remember, you have to do what it says), get a futon and a toaster oven, maybe a twin bed on the floor in the bedroom, and you are set to go. It's okay if you buy beer instead of furniture. It's okay if you have end tables made of used pizza boxes. It's okay if you wear socks, boxers, and your Boise North Junior High School gym shirt all the time while you are home. Just get a place to live that isn't your parents'. That's all you have to do. Now, if that job we talked about above doesn't pay you enough money to get your own place, you can always get a roommate. That's another person who will live with you and pay an equal part of your costs. Just make sure that they aren't either of your parents.
3.) Get a car. Or a motorcycle. This doesn't apply to you if you live in say New York City or Budapest or another city with fully developed public transportation. But if you don't live in a big city like that then you should spend some on the money from that job thing and get a car. It doesn't necessarily have to be a nice car, just some sort of car to get you, you know, to your job. And to the grocery store. And to the movies or wherever. There is bad news however. Getting the car is the easy part. You also have to make sure that you do the things that society says you must do to have a car. You will have to pay money every year to register it with the state. You will have to make sure you always have a driver's license. That allows you to actually drive your 1982 Chevrolet Camaro Berlinetta. And you have to make sure not to use your car to commit a crime. Don't drink alcohol while driving it. Don't run people over with it. Don't drive it at excessive speed everywhere you go. Just follow things like laws and common sense (trust me, if you don't want to be a lazy sack of shit you will have to learn what these are). Or, if those elude you, just sort of do what other people around you are doing. That will help you succeed. Just remember that you have to be responsible for your car. That means that it's your fault if you screw things up. So shape up.
Those are the basics to not being a lazy sack of shit. It's relatively simple. I know that is sounds scary right now. But make sure to follow these few pieces of advice and you won't be a lazy sack of shit anymore. You will be just lazy. Or you will be a douchebag. Or you will be a normal guy. Or hey, you might even become a success. But you won't be a lazy sack of shit anymore, and that's all that the world asks.

This post originally posted on April 4, 2008.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pencil-Related Issues

One time I read a whole book about the pencil because I am an idiot. It was a book that I was rightfully made fun of while I was reading it, and because it turned out to be a whole lot more than a book about just pencils (it sort of became a history of the process of product development and engineering as told through the pencil book) it was really hard for me to finish. Like, I was about four-fifths of the way through and I remember sitting at the break room table and forcing myself to finish the book because I was almost done and there is only one book in my collection (not counting the textbooks) that I haven't finished. Anyway, I read a book about pencils and was made fun of but I bet that I know more about pencils than you do, and that if we were both on Jeopardy! and there was a category about pencils I would kick your ass in it.
The point here, Company, is not my prowess in reading books about pencils, the point is that the pencil, while something seemingly simple, has been studied at length by more than one person and more than one time. Billions and billions of pencils are used in the world every year, by billions of people for a million billion reasons, and yet they still never give you even close to enough eraser.
I mean, one would think that one of those people would finally get frustrated enough with this situation but no, no one seems to have. I have heard over my life tons of people, literally, if you put them on the scale they would register tons, complain that their erasers run out. I just ordered a SECOND case of five extra erasers for Ice Q the other day; it's nuts. I, as I got ready for the non-award winning Big Dave and Company Podcast, I spent like ten minutes raiding every office supply available to me in the Worldwide Headquarters to find a pencil with an eraser that was usable on it. I ended up finding one hidden among some pens that looks like I found it in the street somewhere along the way. This happens over and over again, all around the world, and no one has done a thing about it.
"Now now now, that's not true" I hear you say. And you know, you are right, Company. Some people have responded to the call. There are those little pink or lurid neon erasers that you can put on top of your used up pencil that work pretty well as long as you get the right kind; there are replacement ones if you have a mechanical pencil like I always do, but only for certain mechanical pencils and not the kind I like to use; there are the standard ancient blocks of rubber that I like to use; and then there are those ones that are pen-shaped and you can sort of click them out more as you use them up...those are cool but it's like carrying another whole writing utensil. They are closest to the best though, and I wish someone would make something like that for on top of the pencil I am already using.
That, to me, seems to be the trick. Like, why can't they make a little clickable eraser that could go on the end of the pencil. Or maybe something spring loaded so the eraser pushes up as it gets used. That seems to me like a good idea, because as I see it there is a lot of wasted eraser down below the metal or plastic rim where you can't get at it. I mean, we have put several men on the moon, and we have machines that squeeze the juice out of fruit on our behalf, but we can't make a perpetual eraser, or at least a longer lasting one? That's bullshit. If we can make a machine under Switzerland that will created black holes, we should be able to make a pencil eraser that doesn't drive me nuts.
It seems so simple to me, and I there is totally a need. We need a better eraser to pencil ratio in this society. Because, I don't know about you, Company, but I use a pencil precisely because I CAN erase what I write. If I want something that can be removed I use a pencil, otherwise I use a pen. So basically what I am saying is that the only reason I use pencils is because I plan to use the eraser. Now I know that I am supposed to be smart and articulate enough to write more that stays than gets erased, but my mind is usually racing way to fast to make that possible, let's be honest. So somewhere out there I hope someone is working on my pencil-related issues, because they could be super rich kabillionaires if they could just figure it out. I would assume though, that they will have to make lots and lots of tries at getting it right. I guess they'd better go out and get some more erasers before they start.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Feeling Squirrly

So every morning, for like the past four mornings, I have walked out the back door of the Worldwide Headquarters, lookin' good, in order to go to work and there has been a squirrel sitting on the back porch. Sometimes it is looking at me, sometimes it is looking the other way, enjoying the vista of the backyard, but he or she is there every day and, quite frankly, I am getting sick of it. The reason is I don't think this is a normal squirrel. I think it's bat-shit crazy.
I know you don't believe me, Company, I know you really don't. You think that it's just another squirrel going about its pressing fall business of collecting nuts for the either long, cold and snowy or short, warm and dry (the almanac predicts one, the National Weather Service the other, I will leave it to you to decide who picks which) winter which lied ahead. That's what you think and I understand that. On the surface that's what it looks like; a squirrel going around collecting acorns. But here's the kicker folks: There aren't any acorns on the back porch, okay? I've been there probably a hundred times and I can tell you that there are no acorns there, mostly due to the conspicuous absence of oak trees in the general vicinity. Yet he/she seems to have an acorn in his/her mouth every time we meet. But that is not the only thing that makes this particular squirrel so disturbing. One day, I swear that it looked me in the eye.
Oh yeah, it's true. The thing looked me with the cold, black, beady little eyes of its own and seemed to be considering whether or not to move, like it was testing me and my mettle. And the strange thing is that I almost backed down. It's like he was sizing me up and it almost made me uncomfortable enough to take the other door. I averted my eyes because he was staring into them. That's not right, he's psycho. I say it's a him because one would have to have some major balls to pull a move like that. So every morning I am a little afraid because I know how it's going to go down.
By now, I've got my Fruit of the Looms in an uproar over this thing, and so I won't be so intimidated by the squirrel the next time he tries to pull that shit on me. I will look him right in the eye and give him that "What?" shoulder move that everyone on COPS uses when they are getting in a fight with someone and then it will be on. He is bat-shit crazy, and I will be all pissed off, and before you know it it's going to be like The Matrix mixed with a Jackie Chan movie in that backyard.
First, when I open the door after we stare each other down through the glass, he is going to chuck his acorns at me. That has to be the opening salvo, there is really no other choice. I will, of course duck them by bending over backwards in slow motion while they whiz by my head, missing me by mere inches and impaling themselves in the wall in the hallway. That's a nice opening shot but I am not going to fall for that shit. So I am assuming that I will come after him with the bristle end of a broom, which he will grab and immediately break somehow. Hand-to-hand combat would ensue, and I would probably get a judo chop on him somehow, I am pretty good with the judo chop. I can only assume that he would bite me in and around the neck area, from which I will probably contract rabies, which won't manifest itself until later. I will pull him off and grab him by the tail and swing him around over my head and fling him into the side of the garage.
And so it will go: on and on and on until one of us is a bloody pulp and I am late for work, which will suck. But I am not going to lose to a squirrel. I know what you are thinking: He has been training on that plastic squirrel in the backyard for years, and so he is ready. And that might be true but so am I, and there are few things as dangerous as a pissed-off fat guy who has missed breakfast. So he is in for a real surprise that squirrel. Maybe we would all be best served if he just got the hell off my porch.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kool Cigarettes and a White Sailboat

So I went to the laundromat, my favorite laundromat in the next town over, and was dismayed to find that they had no hot water. I am guessing that the hot water heater was busted, and that's okay. Normally that would not phase me because I wash my clothes in cold water, but I was there to do my towels and bedding, etc, and I usually like the hottest water that money can buy for that stuff. Anyway, I was there so I started washing, well, the machine started washing, and I watched some TV and ate dinner. While I was doing that I sort of started looking at the cork board to see what was new. Every laundromat has a cork board, on which people can post advertisements for things for sale, or services, or adverts for like church dinners and benefit spaghetti feeds and whatnot. None of those, however, is what caught my eye. What I saw, among the ads for lawn service and random note cards advertising used TV's, there was a picture of a sailboat for sale. But not just any sailboat.
Now I am not a sailor, and I have never been on a boat that was powered exclusively by the wind, so I can't tell you what kind of boat it was to save my life, but I can tell you it was one of those little boats that you see on small lakes and beaches, with just an open area to sit along the gunwales and a little rudder to sort of steer the thing. Like, the kind that young kids would learn the basics of sailing on. Usually, they would come with a sail with bright colors and like a number on them, that only the sailing people would know the meaning of and that would always make the rest of us wonder about what it is up there for. This one, however had one striking difference. In place of the mystery number was the logo for Kool brand cigarettes.
You know, Kool, the menthols in the iconic green box? Yeah. Well, they aren't in a green box but they were for years, including all the years that I was growing up, and that was the lurid green color of the sail. And with the Kool logo boldly placed on either side, in a way in which you could clearly see it from whichever way you were standing. I was, not to say the least, surprised to see the logo of a cigarette company there on the sail, but I didn't think a whole lot about it until after my stuff went in the dryer and I took another look at the picture. That's when it struck me: How many packs did someone have to smoke to get the points to get that thing?
I mean, all the cigarette companies had those give-aways, where you would smoke up from like the time you were fifteen and eventually you could get a mirror or a jacket or a truckers hat or apparently a boat. So if it took like 32,000 Kool points to get the jacket, I wonder how many hundreds of thousands you had to have to get a sailboat? Like a million billion? Like eleventy billion? And at like 50 points per pack, that's a lot of packs. That is like hot box chain smoking from dawn 'til dusk like whether you are on break or not, even at the dinner table, which is hard since every public place is smoke free all of the sudden.
I went and looked at the phone number, and it was from the suburbs of a nearby major city, like most people's phone numbers seem to be around here these days, which means someone has the cigarette boat that's not really a cigarette boat at their cabin. The writing on the photo had that characteristic old person writing, you know what I am talking about. That sort of got me thinking more about the photo. The boat had the sail all set up even though it was leaning on its keel on dry land, WAY up a hill from the water in the background. I hate to break it to you, seller, but that sail isn't going to move that boat very far when it's not on the water. Anyway, the boat was not on a trailer, and the ad said nothing about a trailer. The point here, Company, is that the boat is pretty useless because after smoking as many Kools as it would take for one to get the boat there is no way one would be able to haul it down to the water from wherever it was parked, or up on the shore when you were done sailing. Your lung capacity would be so diminished that you'd be huffing and puffing like as soon as you got out of the boat. Also, you wouldn't have the time to put the boat away because you'd be too busy smoking like 184 more packs in order to get enough points to get the matching life jackets.
So if you want the Kool sailboat, it's out there, and it's for sale for a reasonable price. I would advise that you go ahead and get it if you are into sailing or going on the water or maybe if you are into avant garde yard art. Even if you aren't into that stuff get it anyway, I guarantee you that you will be the Koolest kid on the block.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Impeach Sallie Peake

I don't live in Wellford, South Carolina, but if I did that would be the sign that would be in my front yard, on my bumper sticker, maybe on one of those cool novelty t-shits that is white with like red letters and red around the collar and the sleeves...yeah, that would be neat. I wouldn't be advocating her impeachment because of her decision to ban the police in this city of about 2000 in upstate South Carolina, near Spartanburg. It is because of how she acted towards a friendly local television reporter when asked about her declaration.
Let's get a little history here, shall we, Company? I don't like to go into a situation uninformed. On Sept 2, 2009 Ms. Peake issued a two-line memo to members of the Wellford Police Department that stated "As of this date there are to be no more foot chases when a suspect runs. I do not want anyone chasing after any suspects whatsoever." Pretty clear and simple in my mind. She doesn't want police officers getting in foot chases after suspects. Fair enough, she issued this memo after an officer was injured chasing a person suspected of a drug related crime. The city had to pay this officer even though he/she was not able to work, and I would guess that there was a resulting effect on the city's insurance premiums. This incident came on the heels of two incidents in which two city-issued cars were totaled.
I get this. I understand the reasoning of Ms. Peake in putting out this memo, in making this declaration. I really do. I probably wouldn't do the same thing in her situation, but I can totally see where she is coming from, and I don't doubt for one moment that she has the best interests of her community in mind. It is taxing, please excuse the pun, for a small town like Wellford to have to pay rising health care costs, to have to pay for police officers who can't work, to pay for other officers overtime to cover those injured, to pay for new cars, so on and so forth. She is looking out for the personal health of her officers and therefore the financial health of her city. I would guess that most of the crime in her small community are of the petty variety: maybe some drug-related crimes, vandalism, theft, that sort of stuff. And it IS small town, so there is a reasonable assumption that if someone runs from the police they will turn up again shortly. Even the police chief in Wellford says that he believes the department can keep the citizens of Wellford safe even without the ability to chase down suspects on foot.
So, I totally believe that she was acting with the best intentions and with sound reasoning in issuing this memo. I, however, do take issue with the way that she handled some questions asked by friendly local television reporter Chris Cato when he interviewed her for this story. Just watch the video below from WSPA, the television station for which Cato reports, and see for yourself.



It's obvious to me that Ms. Peake is a plain-spoken, no nonsense sort of politician, and she is rightfully defending her decision. The problem here is that she is not doing a very good job of defending her decision, which in itself is just fine too, okay? Where she goes seriously awry, and gets seriously out of line, is when she begins mocking the reporter. That is just not right.
We have all been in difficult situations where neither side is communicating appropriately or effectively and all that does is sort of snowball upon itself until nothing is getting done. I think that is what has happening here, because she didn't see her decision as that big of a deal and she had this reporter who wasn't getting the answers he wanted. And he kept pushing, because that's what reporters do, until Ms. Peake made a bad decision.
When she began mocking the reporter she instantly lost all credibility, and her decision did as well. If you are a politician, which make no mistake Ms. Peake is, unless she somehow became mayor without an election, you have to be prepared to answer questions and give reasoning behind your decisions. Just saying you made this decision to cut costs is not enough. You have to answer the questions and have some sort of decision making process, some sort of logic to back up your decisions and actions, and you have to be prepared to give up that decision making process for review. One cannot, and should not, begin mocking the questioner in the way she did. It was inappropriate. It was rude. And it totally made her look like a fool. If I were Ms. Peake or a member of the Wellford community I would extremely embarrassed to have been involved in something like this, or to have my elected official acting this way ON TV! Hello! People far more important than Sallie Peake have taken falls from much higher levels for far less than what she displayed.
And it's sad, it's very sad. I have the utmost confidence that Sallie Peake did and does do a fantastic job running the city of Wellford, South Carolina. I really do. And usually that would cause some conflict on my part when it came to this situation. But in this case, it does not, because while she may be a competent mayor what she did on regional television while being questioned on a pertinent local issue was inexcusable and embarrassing, and should not be condoned or accepted. I wouldn't want that representing my town. Sorry. I would vote to impeach Sallie Peake in a heartbeat.

Editor's Note: As of 5:15 pm on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 someone had edited the page relating to Wellford, South Carolina on Wikipedia to show the nickname of the town as "Crime Town USA" and it's motto as "We Run Circles Around the Cops." Hilarious.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys

A big part of life - I would argue the biggest part of life - is learning. It starts on day one when you learn you mother's face, and keeps on as you grow up, learning things like language and social norms. The day that you stop learning is the day that, well, you might as well be one leg crotch deep in the grave. So that is why I am so glad that I learned something...um...yesterday morning. I learned that Lucky Charms marshmallows mixed with Cocoa Puffs is WAY too much sweet in the morning.
"Wait, what? They make that cereal? They can't make that cereal. There is no way in hell that happened. How did you come upon that? Did something go horribly wrong at General Mills so that a batch of Lucky Charms marshmallows got direct injected into a box of Cocoa Puffs on mistake? How lucky are you that you got that box? And why the hell are you eating it? You should be preserving it for posterity. Seriously, honestly, did someone forget to flip a switch in the factory or what? Is this a new thing? Where I can I get this?" Wow, Company. I could hear all that from across the room. Quit freaking out, man. Okay? Just settle down. First of all, there was not some sort of major industrial occurrence somewhere in Minneapolis. Second of all, you don't want that cereal, trust me. Please allow me to explain.
Lately, I have taken to buying bargain cereals, you know the kind that nobody every buys because they are in plastic bags instead of boxes with cartoon characters on the front and mazes on the back, because they are a good bargain and at this age I just don't care anymore: if I am going to eat kids cereals I am going to eat cheap kids cereals. If I want to pay up the yin yang for breakfast cereal, I will get something with either the works "fruit," "nut," or "bran" in the title that comes in a tiny little box. Anyway, as I said I have taken to eating these Malt-o-Meal cereals and one of them is called Marshmallow Mateys and they are basically knock-off Lucky Charms. Marshmallows on indistinguishable shapes, frosted oat pieces, the whole nine yards. They also have Coco Roos, which are knock off Cocoa Puffs. When I saw Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys lying in a bad on the shelf in my friendly local grocery store, I wasn't sure what so expect. I though it would be Lucky Charms with chocolate pieced instead of frosted oat pieces. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezie.
What I got was the marshmallows from the Marshmallow Mateys thrown in with some Coco Roos. Okay, I thought, I can get into this. I dig this. At first it was pretty good, I have to admit. I was down with whatever I was eating. The milk was turning chocolatey, as would be expected, and I was recovering my initial shock from opening the bag, and all was well. Then, about three-quarters, maybe two-thirds of the way through the little bowl I was eating, I became very aware that there was way, WAY, WAY too much sweetness in this concoction. I mean, the Coco Roos alone are delicious. The Marshmallow Mateys alone are great. But together it's just way too much. If I were a little kid I would be bouncing off all the walls, including some that haven't been built yet. As it was at about 10 am I crashed like I had drank about fifty Mountain Dews for breakfast. Here's another way to put it: If Marshmallow Mateys is maintaining a pleasant buzz and having your girlfriend drive you home, Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys is blacking out at 8:30 pm and waking up the next morning behind a dumpster in Amarillo wearing nothing but a jock strap, neck tie, and Superman cape with a toothless woman in a tube top asking a man in a mullet wearing a Cannonball Run T-shirt if its really worth rolling you because you obviously don't have a wallet but it's a really nice tie, now isn't it? That's what it's like. And you don't want that.
No, no. You don't want that. It's just too much sugar, it's just too much sweet, it's just too much dessert at breakfast. Plus, you have to drink the chocolate milk that's left when you are done, so that's like another shot that you just don't need. Trust me on this one. Lay off the Chocolate Marshmallow Mateys. Unless you have low blood sugar or something.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's Just Another Manic Monday

Well Company, I believe that it is time to make a startling confession to you. I know that you all look up to me as a celebrated champion of goodness and hilarity, a beacon of enlightenment in the dark forest of the blogosphere, and the most exciting thing to happen to the podcast since the invention of the sound effect, but I am a lot more like you than you probably realize. That's right, Company, even though being crazy famous takes up a terrible amount of my time, I still work a regular job, just like you and your uncle and that guy that lives two doors down and is always screaming "Hey, some of us have to work in the morning!"
I am one of those people, I have been for a little over a year now. Before that I spent most of my working like, after my menial high school job that is, working shift work. Shift work, for those of you who have never done it, Company, is a nasty thing. It's not like where you always work the same hours, say 9 am - 5 pm or even 10 pm - 6 am, no you work vastly different hours each day of the week. Oh yeah, you might start work at five different times for your five different days of the week. And since most of these jobs are in the so-called "red collar" professions (retail, entertainment, and customer service) most of the time your days off aren't weekend days. Many times they are not even together. For instance, your days off might be Monday and Thursday.
Now, for as shitty as shift work generally is, you get used to it, and it has its good points. You get to see all different people and experience all different situations at work. You can use your days off on weekdays to get tons of stuff done. Sometimes it's nice to only have to work a three or four day stretch. Each of those points has a counterpoint though, because sometimes you go ages at work without seeing the people you like, all the stuff you WANT to do happens on weekends, which sucks if you have, say, Tuesday and Wednesday off, and while sometimes you get two or three day stretches, sometimes you get nine and ten day stretches. LAME! Although I miss some of those high points, now I work in an office, Monday-Friday 8 am - 4 pm - pretty standard. And generally I like it. It's easy to plan your life, and you sleep better at night once your body gets used to the hours. And although it can be tough to get stuff done that needs to be done during bankers hours, it is in general really nice. But do you know what I noticed since working more standard hours? Mondays are really, really hard.
I don't know why. I mean, I really struggle on Monday mornings. Check that, I usually struggle mightily on Sunday night because I know I have to get up and get moving tomorrow. I never had this problem. Like, if I had a Thursday and Friday off, and I had to be at work on Saturday morning, no big deal. But now it's like I'm a soldier from the 1800s, and I am standing on my Sunday end of the battle field in say, my British Redcoat army uniform with my rifle complete with bayonet, and there, across the field staring at me is Monday Morning, except it has big artillery guns and I don't stand a chance. That's how it feels on Sunday night about the time supper is done.
It's the strangest thing, because there is essentially no difference between going back to work on Saturday morning after your two days off and going back to work Monday morning after your two days off. I don't get it, but I definitely feel it. I don't know what the hell is going on and I sort of want Robert Stack with his Unsolved Mysteries crew to come an investigate. I mean, isn't there already a book about this? There should be. Maybe I will write one, and then I can ratchet up my fame a little bit more, and I can quit my day job to be a famous author and then I won't have to experience this whole Monday Morning phenomenon, because it is really starting to freak me out, man.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Anne Frank vs. Helen Keller

So, I was watching Clerks 2, a truly monumental movie that touched me deeply when I first saw it in the theatre (stop laughing, I am serious), but which now is nothing more than hilarious the second time I watch it even though there is deeper meaning strung all throughout, within, and around it. So anyway, and I am watching it, and among the things that they argue about, things like Star Wars vs. Lord of the Rings or whether or not you go a** to mouth, is Anne Frank vs. Helen Keller. I am not exactly sure what they are fighting for or about when it comes to these two young ladies, but I suppose that it's as good as any argument, so let's take a look at the pros and cons of both and see what we can come up with. How does that sound?

Anne Frank - A German Jewish girl who was born between the two World Wars, she became famous for her diary chronicling her time hiding from Nazi occupiers in World War II Amsterdam. Her entire family was eventually sold out to the Nazis and Anne died in a concentration camp in 1945.

Pros - Pretty girl; talented writer; posthumously famous; foundation and endowment named after her; not actually who Randall was making fun of in Clerks 2; very good at hide and go seek.

Cons - Died too soon, lack of schooling; spent all of time in Amsterdam in attic; not quite good enough at hide and go seek.

Helen Keller - First person who was both deaf and blind to earn a bachelors degree, back when you had to do more than just pay and show up, she was a highly educated woman who proved to be an important author and political activist despite being both deaf and blind since the age of nineteen months or so. She also made Anne Sullivan not so much a household name but one that could at least be found in Wikipedia.

Pros - lecturer, political activist; author; highly educated; overcame large disability; well-endowed family; on state quarter.

Cons - lecturer, political activist, deaf, blind, Anne Sullivan taught her everything she knows; butt of many, many tasteless jokes; on Alabama state quarter.

Well, I must say that this is a close one. Anne Frank definitely comes off as the more loveable person here, although they both demand a certain degree of impression and admiration and respect for what they did. I, however, get this feeling that Anne Frank would be an enchanting girl on the street getting a flower from a passing businessman, had she even been able to be out and about on the streets of Amsterdam, and that picture would be in Life Magazine. Helen Keller, I get the feeling, would come off haughty and condescending if she hadn't suffered a series of strokes and died in the 1960s and were here right now, but I don't know. I never met either one of them. Anne Frank might have been a total b-yatch and Helen Keller might be the life of the party; I can't really say. I do know that while both ladies have a touching and endearing story, although in vastly different ways, Keller certainly did more in her life to attempt to enrich and advance society and humanity. Then again, Ms. Frank never really had a chance.
So who wins here? How do we decide this one? I am not sure. Helen Keller won but sort of lost when it came to Clerks 2, because that is who they were talking about and, well, it's Clerks 2. So I guess she's got that going for her, which is nice. I am, however, going to declare Anne Frank the winner here because that is what my gut says. I know that Helen Keller did a lot of good things in her lifetime but I just get the feeling that Anne Frank was a charmer, and she brought an amazing story to a lot of people without a stitch of help from Anne Sullivan. Sorry. That's just how it has to be.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Alma Mater

It was homecoming yesterday at my high school alma mater, which I didn't know about until today, which is okay because I wasn't going to go anyway. Since I don't live in or around my hometown, and we apparently don't have a very active alumni group, or at least we don't have a very active alumni group about which I know, I only found out about homecoming because I was reading the hometown paper online this morning and as it turns out my alma maters football team scored a huge upset during the homecoming game. Good for them.
The beat a team that has appeared in the state championship game for each of the last three years, and whom is almost universally vilified. I don't think they are vilified because they are bad, I think it's because they are good in just about every sport. Anyway, my alma mater beat them in a thrilling overtime game last night and as I read the article describing the game and looked at the photos of the game I suddenly had this rush of memories and feelings come over me, if only fleetingly.
First of all, seeing the sights of the stadium: the dark night in the background with the uniforms and the polished aluminum of the stands showing brightly in the stadium lights. The faceless cheerleaders and fans in the background of the pictures. I love it. I played football in high school, although not very well that's for sure, and I went to a lot of them, and having been out on the field like millions of other high school boys even for that short time I can say that I understand why professional football players have a hard time letting go of the game. I saw all those pictures and all the sights, sounds, smells, and feeling came back and I wished I had been there, even if only as a fan.
Of course, I didn't really want to be there and I never would have gone. I didn't grow up in a small town, and I am sure that it is slightly different in a small community, but from what I remember at my high school homecoming was more for the current students than it was for the former students. I don't remember there being a lot of former students around at homecoming while I was in school. Maybe that was because my school was only like seven years old at the time, I don't know. But I also know that, aside from the first year, I can't remember seriously considering going back for it. I think that if I were to be there people might look at me like I am a freaky freak of nature.
So I didn't go back, but I was still pretty proud of what my predecessors had done on that perfectly manicured field on that slightly cool Friday night, and I am sure that I will mention something about it at work on Monday and people will look at me like I need to get a life. Fine. I can deal with that. I will still feel proud and boastful. That is the power of the alma mater: something about that idea of school spirit that is sort of infiltrated into your fabric, if you allow it to be, that will never go away. It is strong enough that I can, almost ten years on, still get excited about a high school football game occurring hundreds of miles away from where I am sitting, I can still have flashbacks when I see the local kiddos getting dressed up for prom.
That's the power of memory. That's the power of youth. That's the power of a 12-6 overtime victory against one of the top rated teams in the state. That's the power of defeating time and distance. That's the power of the alma mater.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Merkin Mania

The merkin, Company, is a public wig. They became popular in the mid 1400s, about the same time that the codpiece did, and were popular among prostitutes and less respectable actors of the day.
Prostitutes wore them because they were involved in a strange sort of circle of circumstance. Since hygiene in, say, 1450 was basically non-existent, with very few people bathing and those people bathing very rarely, especially in Western Europe, so in order to combat things like lice, many women kept their swimsuit areas shaved of hair. I don't see how this was a problem, and it wasn't for the average woman, but for prostitutes it was a hindrance to business. They would wear merkins, or pubic wigs, in order to cover the signs of the various "social diseases" that they might have. So they would be shaven for hygiene, and covered for business.
For those in the theatre community it was a different sort of circumstance that caused merkins to become popular. At that time, it was mostly men treading the boards, as they would say, so there was considerable effort involved for them to play female parts. This was generally combated with female dress and lots of traditional wigs and makeup, but in some of the more risqué playhouses that showed some of the more sensational plays, there could be no nudity or flashing or whatever with male actors portraying the females. Yes, I can sense that some of you can see where this is going. To take care of this "issue" male actors would wear merkins to cover their twigs and berries so they could convincingly play females while undressed. I know that it seems unimpressive from today's standpoint, but back then the lighting was bad and most people were sitting a fair distance from the stage and so you could get away with stuff like that.
These days, however, we don't have quite the same problems that they did back then. We have made leaps in hygiene that were inconceivableat that time. And as for stage and screen women are all over as actresses, in just about every type of movie in just about every situation. So why then, is the merkin still around as a small but very disturbing part of our society? I don't get it. I just don't get it. I can't conceive a situation where one would feel the need to wear a merkin, ever. Even if you were part of a terrible industrial accident explosion that too all your short and curlies away from you, that is still not a reason to ever, ever wear a pubic wig.
It's not sexy. It can't be sexy. I shouldn't say that, I am sure there is a segment of the population out there who thinks that big mounds of pubic hair are a super turn-on, but I can't say that I am among that subset. Or that most people would be among that subset. Picture this: Woman comes home from a long day at the office. She comes through the front door and finds that the lights in the house are low, and there is the unmistakable, constant, soft flicker of candlelight filling the room and leading up the stairs. Also leading up the stairs is a carpet of rose petals, in red, pink, and white, ending at the closed door to the master bedroom. The woman walks in, removing her coat as she does, and she sees her male lover standing there, holding a bouquet of yet more roses and wearing a strawberry blonde merkin. If I am that girl, that's it. That's all. Night over. My juices stop flowing as soon as I see that. But that's just me. Maybe she digs it and they make passionate love, after which he removes his merkin and his toupee and goes to take a shower.
I guess that my point is that I am confused and a little disturbed by the whole concept and use of the merkin, no less so than I was when we stumbled upon it on The Big Dave and Company Podcast last week. If you are a dedicated merkin user and you are reading this, more power to you I suppose, I just don't see how that does anything for anyone. But that's just me. Sorry.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Queen for a Day, King for a Lifetime

Peggielene Bartels is a secretary at the Ghanian Embassy in Washington, D.C. That seems to me like it would be a pretty good gig. She is, however not a queen. She isn't even a queen for a day. She is, in fact, a full-fledged king, and she is a full-fledged king forever. How does that sound?
See, Peggielene is from Ghana, which although a democracy, still has a strong tradition of kings ruling individual town and clans. So when, about 15 months ago or so, when the king in Peggielene's home village finally passed at 90 years of age, the village elders who were left got together and performed an elaborate ritual to decide who would be the new king. They, not wanting to fall behind the womens liberation movement, considered all members of the departed king's family, both male and female. In an elaborate ritual that involved praying, pouring schnapps on the ground (party foul!), and waiting for steam to rise out of the ground while they recited the twenty-five names of the departed king's family. When the steam rose as the name of the kings niece was recited they knew they had found their king. So they got up and made a phone call.
Peggielene was, of course, that niece, and when her phone woke her at 4 am Washington D.C. time and the caller on the other end kept referring to her by the name "Nana," which is a Ghanian term used when addressing people of stature, she thought it was a prank. But it wasn't a prank. Peggielene was and is the new Nana of Otuam, which is a town of about 7000 people. She has an eight-bedroom mansion, which is in a state of disrepair to be admitted, and about 1000 acres of land to oversee, and the power to resolve disputes and appoint elders. She is, it seems to me, a reform minded King who plans to bring the Internet to local schools, complete a water delivery system, and build a library. She also wants to replace about half of the all-male elders with females, a battle that will most certainly draw waves and be very much uphill. She has, however, already lost one battle. When she asked if maybe it would be more appropriate that she were a queen, it was answered that the kingship was the position open. It's going to be a long road.
So as for now, Peggielene is a king in absentia, who is using her vacation time to visit Otuam and cement her power, as it were. Until she retires in a few years she will have to continue in this vein, until she can move there full-time. In the meantime, she is going to have to live with phone calls giving her reports and asking about problems that all seem to come at 4 am in Washington, D.C, which is mid-day in Ghana, which won't change no matter how many times she tries to impress that fact on her subjects. While no one knows how Peggielene will act and rule as king, one thing is for certain: Ghana is probably the only country in which the king answers the phone at the Embassy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Those Silly Danes

Imagine this: a video of an EXTREMELY pretty blonde woman with a nice looking baby in her lap. The baby is sucking on a bottle, as babies are want to do, and all looks peaceful. The video is set up as if the woman is doing this in her kitchen by her lonesome. She steadies the camera, or at least appears to, and sits down and begins.
She is a little nervous as she begins, but she has a look in her eyes and an accent to die for as she starts to tell her story. She tells us that she is making the video to find the father of her baby, August. She tells about how she had a tryst with a man who was visiting Denmark one night and that nine months later, wham! Motherhood. So she feels that the owes it to her baby, and that she owes it to his father, to try and find him. This video was released on YouTube for all the world to see. Don't believe me? Well watch it for yourself then.




So yeah, there it is. Seems like a pretty sad but normal video or at least as far as YouTube is concerned. Here's the twist though: that is not a mother wanting to find the father of her illegitimate son. Nope. That is a Danish tourism video.
Wait, what!? Yeah, I know. That makes no sense. But that is who created the video, that is who had it up on YouTube until it was taken down recently amid a storm of controversy. Luckily, the Internet being what the Internet is, there are copies of it just about everywhere. There are even responses, which doesn't surprise me because that's how people are and quite frankly, I would want everyone to think that I had been with this beautiful woman.
But I haven't. And I have doubts that the son is even hers, although I could be wrong. The woman is a Danish actress, Ditte Arnth Jørgsensen, who does a fantastic job by the way, who was hired by the ad company that was hired by the Danish tourism board, which is called VisitDenmark. I am not going to focus on or talk about how this reflects on Denmark, or the Danish people, or the implications of featuring a woman who had a child as a result of a one-night stand in your tourism video, that's been covered at length by a lot of media outlet type places. What I want to talk about is what a crappy ad this was.
Okay, okay. I am going to attempt to cut you off at the pass here, Company. I know what you are going to say, you are going to throw the modern, Internet-based 21st Century argument at me. And that's fine. I will say it for you. "This is a great ad campaign because it went viral, everybody has seen it and everybody else will see it by the end of the week. It's great because everyone is talking about Denmark, so it is bound to drum up some extra business. I mean, she even talks about some of the things to see in Copenhagen, and plus if I thought I could get lucky with a chick like that I'd be booking my airline tickets in a heartbeat." Well you're a fool. This is a terrible tourism commercial, and I am going to tell you why.
First of all, I am a pretty normal human being, and there is nothing in this video, aside from the very pretty girl and the accent I can't get enough of, that makes me want to visit Denmark, okay? The stark, white efficiency of her apartment kitchen is not going to make me place a call to my travel agent. And neither is the prospect of scoring with women like Ditte, because if I wanted a one night stand I could just go to the right bar in whatever community I am living, and besides, I have no chance in hell of hopping into bed with a woman like that, no matter how many beers I pump into her or how enchanting the statue of The Little Mermaid is. So, sorry, no trip to the Kattegat for me.
Let's get something straight here, Company. I am not a fan of the same old thing when it comes to advertising, okay? I like Cog. I like stuff that on the surface has nothing to do with whatever it is promoting. There is one little caveat to that, though. There has to be something in there somewhere to connect it to what it is advertising. Like, Cog is all about car parts, so in the end it makes sense. Not so much with the VisitDenmark video. It doesn't make sense. It has very little to do with Denmark, aside from the woman and child who are in it, or the association who put it out. We, in the video, do not see a single scene of Denmark. She does not mention any famous Danish sites other than a neighborhood in Copenhagen and the name of a bar. I see no sweeping Danish bridges. I see no quaint Danish cottages, or those row houses painted in sensible pastels. Nowhere does this give me an e-mail or a phone number that I can call for more information. I get no helpful tips regarding lodging or travel. I don't even see anyone having a good time. I see one woman who had a good time one night, one who is not a "bimbo" by the way, and now is spending a lifetime of responsibility for her actions.
This is the main point of the people at VisitDenmark, who claim that the video shows Denmark as a free society where people can take responsibility for their own actions. Great, that's how I base my vacations, on how moral and ethical I can be when I go there. That's exactly how Vegas and Bangkok got to be the thriving tourist centers they are. But that's just me; I guess that I just don't know how the Danes think. Maybe that sort of potential morality just gets the Danes all riled up, but then again the Danes are already living there and probably all know about what it's like in Denmark, so who are they targeting then, the Swedes? Norwegians? I am just not sure where they were going with this. If you are proud of your society, which I assume the Danes are, and should be, and want to tout the fact that there is a great amount of personal freedom and responsibility in your country, that's fine. That's wonderful. But a tourism video on YouTube is not the right place for that.
So where do we go from here, Big Dave? I can hear you asking. Well, not Denmark, I can tell you that much. I suppose that nothing will come of this. The people at VisitDenmark will move on to other ads and after its 15 minutes, after its 15 minutes of being viral, after its 15 minutes of being on every cable news channel, the video and the furor will fade away. Soon everyone will have forgotten it much like we have all forgotten William Hung ("Who's that?) See, you know I am right. Now I just have to find a video on the Internet that actually makes me WANT to go to Denmark.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ten Pins and a Heavy Ball

Ten pins and a heavy ball. It seem so simple, doesn't it? You fling the heavy ball sixty feet down a heavily oiled wood floor and knock down as many of the ten pins as you can. You have sixty three tries to get as many of those pins as possible. There is one catch though...at the edges are these troughs that take your ball around all the pins. It's bowling. It sounds so simple, so easy. It's not.As you may have guessed tonight was my first night of the bowling league that I joined this year. The Ice Queen asked if I wanted to get in a league with her husband, son, and her sons buddies. I didn't want to. Not that I don't like the guys or have a problem being social, I just know how unbelieveably bad at bowling I am.
Oh yeah, I am terrible. Like super terrible. Like, let's-put-a-different-name-on-the-big-overhead-screen-so-that-I-don't-have-to-be-associated-with-the-score-that-is-showing-up-there terrible. I tried to tell them that. The Ice Queen said that didn't matter, they just needed someone who would show up every week. I told her again the next day, and she said that it didn't matter, they just needed someone who would show up every week. I tried to make it as plain and clear and simple as I could how bad I was.
And oh was I bad. It's been worse for me, that's for sure, but it's been better, that's for sure. I have definitely the lowest average in my league, and I wouldn't be surprised if I had the lowest average for someone in a league in the entire state. I should look into that. I am not going to tell you what my average was, because it's shamefully low (I tried to tell them!), as in the "I'm not sure if we should turn the air conditioner on or not at this temperature, maybe a fan will just do" range. It was truly awful, and it was what always seems to happen with me. I am always iffy on the first game, terrible on the second game, and better on the third game. That's just how it goes when I go bowling; it's like an upside down bell curve. If I had thrown in my second game what I threw in my first game, which wasn't good in and of itself, I would have had an average that I might have not been ashamed to tell you. Unfortunately, no. I was down with the third graders who have the big air filled bumpers in the gutters, which would have been nice because I spent an awful lot of time there.
I did, however have a good time. The guys were cool and we told a lot of jokes. And I would suppose that there is nowhere to go but up, although I shouldn't say that because I am sure that I will be able to find somewhere below it on at least a couple of occasions this season. Plus, with my Biblically low average there will be very little pressure for me to perform as we go on through the season, so that is good. I guess we will have to see what happens, but I expect and hope to get better as it gets on and I bowl more and more. I mean, it's only ten pins and a heavy ball, so it can't be THAT hard, can it?

Monday, September 14, 2009

MWF seeks SWM

If this story were occurring here in the United States, there would be, somewhere in the newspaper, an accompanying personal ad that would read something like this:

MWF seeks SWM to replace current husband for companionship. Must like older women.

That would probably be all the more that it would say, and it would be straight truth. The woman would be married. The man would most likely have to be single. And they would have to like older women because I highly doubt that someone who would answer the ad would be older than 107-year-old Wook Kundor, or as she has been affectionately known to her last 22 husbands, Wookie.
Okay, I made that last part up. And since this strange but true drama is unfolding in Malaysia, there probably isn't a cheesy personal ad tucked in the back of some friendly local newspaper or one of those strange fliers that you can get for free at rest areas and truck stops all across the country. But there is the quite aged Wook Kundor, who is very much married, and who is ready to put herself on the market and search for husband number 23.
See, Wook and her husband are sort of like minor celebrities in their part of Malaysia, called Terengganu, in the way that people who do something crazy and get their 15 minutes of fame are celebrities here. The reason why is that while, as we said before, Wook is 107, her current husband, her 22nd husband (that's about one every five years of her life, for those of you who are keeping track), is only 37. That's a little bit of an age difference. So if you think your buddy is robbing the cradle because he's like 32 and dating a college sophomore, think again. He's within the realm of the normal when compared to these two. Her husband, Muhammad Noor Che Musa, whom we will call Noor because I think that goes well with Wook - "Hello, you have reached the home of Wook and Noor. We aren't available to come to the phone right now but please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Thanks!" BEEP - was at one time her lodger according to the BBC, which either means he rented space from her or she rented space from him. To be completely honest with you I can't tell, but I highly doubt it matters. The pair was so popular when they married in 2005 that their wedding photos were even published in the regional media. And all seemed well. Noor said at one time that is was "God's will" that he fell in love with the centenarian.
So, I am sure that you have about a hundred thousand questions. I am not going to answer most of them, I assure you. But the one I will answer is "Why is she looking for a 23rd husband when she is already married?" The reason is that all has not been roses for Noor and Wook since they were bound in the ties of holy matrimony, which are apparently very weak when they involve Wook. She is like the kryptonite to matrimony's Superman. See, Noor has been away in the capital Kuala Lampur being treated for a drug addiction, and Wook is afraid that he's not going to come back once his treatment is complete. And I can't blame her. I've seen it a hundred times: man falls in love with 107-year-old, man marries 107-year-old, man gets addicted to drugs and goes off to rehab, man gets out of rehab and realizes that he is married to 107-year-old, man finds out that you can have relations with someone without their hip breaking, so man never comes back. It's a classic tale. Apparently Wook has heard it too, and with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan coming up, she is feeling a little lonely. So she wants to make sure all is on the up and up with Noor.
With all this swirling in her mind, Wook has decided that she needs to find out for sure how Noor feels about her. So what she is going to do is try to find someone in her village to drive her to the capital to visit Noor so she can discern his intentions. How's that for a shocker, hey? She is going to ask him if he still loves her. And just like a telemarketer, she has a plan for whether he says no or yes.
Should Noor tell Wook that he still feels for her, then she will reconsider her plans to divorce him and find a 23rd husband to fill her emptiness. God that sounded wrong. But should he say he still feels for her she will keep him around. Should he waver, or say that no he does not care for Wook anymore, she will leave Noor and seek out another man to "fill my forlornness" says Wook, who also notes that "Lately, there is this kind on insecurity in me." Which I guess I can't blame her for because she is 107-years-old and I can't imagine that there is a large market for wives over 100 in Malaysia or anywhere really, except maybe Shandy Pines Retirement Community.
I worry though, more about poor Noor. First of all, it's bad enough that you are in voluntary drug treatment in Malaysia, because I can't imagine that it's like Betty Ford here where Hollywood douchebags go and basically have a spa vacation where they get massages and talk about how hard it is to be rich and famous, no, I imagine that Malaysian rehab is much, much less fun. So here he is, in detox or whatever, and you 107-year-old wife comes in and dumps you? For me, that's it. That is where it would end. I would be a confirmed bachelor for the rest of my days because if I can't keep a 107-year-old woman in my life, I would just assume that there is no hope left for me and I would give up women. Maybe I would join the priesthood and just be done with it because I don't know that there is any surviving that blow, you know what I am saying, Company?
So anyway, I suppose that we will just have to wait and see what happens with Noor and Wook; I suppose that we will never quite know, unless of course one of us is watching Terengganu Today on our 1600-channel super-duper satellite TV package while we get ready for work and sees the pictures of the 23rd wedding ceremony for Wook, and then lets me know and then we can talk about it. I am wondering why Wook is going to bother at 107, but I suppose the need for companionship is just as great when you've been around since 1902 as it is when you've only been around since 1982. So I suppose good luck to her, and to Noor her husband, let's hope they both get to where they need to be. Oh, and if you like older women, I hear that Wook is available.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

NFL Opening Sunday

As I sit writing this I am listening to Joe Buck describe new rules that are in place for onside kicks in the National Football League. That means that another season of American football is upon us, and I couldn't be more excited.
It is opening day for the NFL, which is rapidly becoming a benchmark like opening day of baseball is around these parts. Okay, okay, it is Sunday and it is not the opening day of the NFL because the first game was actually held back on Thursday, but let's not nitpick. Let's not argue about specifics. It is opening Sunday and that is just as good.
The coming of football signals the changing of the seasons. Before long there will be a little extra crispness in the air, the last few changes leaves will be in the air, and winter will be right around the corner. Football lends itself especially well to both the television and the radio, and it works well with them in concert; watching on the TV while hearing the description on the radio is a time honored tradition at least as far as I am concerned, even though there is that slight delay.
Then there is one my favorite parts of football, and that is critiquing the announcers. I love the hometown radio guys because I have grown up with them, but since each of the major TV networks gets in on a piece of the football television pie, over the course of the weekend plus Monday night you get to get a piece of everyone. Tonight I am being subjected to Bob Costas and the NBC crew, who I don't care for, but that's okay. That's all part of the deal.
So here we sit, at the beginning of football season and suddenly all is well, suddenly it is another of the American institutions, one of the newer of them, and I am giddy like a little schoolgirl. I am looking forward to the next twenty or Sundays when I can be a vegetable on the couch and just watch football, and call my dad and complain about it. How great is that. I have to go though, because the game is on.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Seven Daughters of Eve

Somewhere upstairs here at the new Worldwide Headquarters, up the steps and to your left, past the little Christmas tree, bend to the right at the box of kitchen utensils, around past the front of the ancient printer, more to the right at the dismantled futon frame, way back in the right corner, deep in the recesses of a box that used to be filled with styrofoam cups for food service use lies a pretty cool book. It is called the Seven Daughters of Eve and it was written by a man named Bryan Sykes.
What he did was go around and collect pieces of the inside of people's cheeks. I mean, it's not like he was wandering around cutting off pieces, that is just how they take DNA samples these days: with a cotton swab on the inside of the cheek. So Mr. Sykes is collecting DNA samples from around the world, in fact, people were actually sending him samples from all over. What he and his scientific cohorts did was analyze these DNA samples for their mDNA, which stands for Mitochondrial DNA. The reason they looked at this mDNA in particular is because males don't pass it on, it is only given from mothers to their children. So, for example you have mDNA from your mother but not from your father, and if you are a girl you will pass it on to your children, if you are a boy then sorry, you are the end of the line. Anyway, since the mDNA is only passed down through the female bloodlines, it directly connects each child to their mother, and it never mixes with the mDNA of the father, so it allows one to trace people back to similar mothers. What the researchers doing this found was something pretty shocking and amazingly cool. They were able to trace all roughly 731 million of us with European ancestry back to SEVEN DIFFERENT WOMEN in history; the seven women he dubbed the "Seven Daughters of Eve."
The "daughters" have names: Ursula, Xenia, Helena, Velda, Tara, Katrine, and Jasmine, and everyone of European ancestry is related to one of them somehow. In fact, they mothered all of us way back to when. They are the ancestral mothers of the lot of us, or at least those of us who are of European ancestry. I am not sure that I can adequately explain how cool this is. Just let it roll around in your brain for a little while: he took DNA samples from all of us and figured out that we all came from seven different people. SEVEN. Most of us can't trace our ancestry back seven generations, let alone back to simply seven people.
Now, some of you creationist types out there aren't going to buy into this whole idea, and that's okay. You are certainly entitled to your opinion and your belief, I won't take that away from you. But however you choose to reconcile your beliefs with scientific discovery, I think you still have to be pretty impressed that it has been able to be boiled down to seven people, who existed God knows how long ago. I can only begin to imagine what their lives were like, and it completely blows my mind to think that those seven women were wandering around the plains or the forests or wherever and they had no idea how important they would become one day. They never realized the consequences of the offspring they worked so hard to birth, raise, and protect. They couldn't have known consciously that the seven of them would be the roots from which Europe spread forth.
The problem, however, is that there are more than seven of these women. See, the researchers on this project only dealt with Europe and the seven genetic "clans" that they were able to identify there. As it turns out, most of the major ethnic groups in the world will be able to be boiled down to similar groups of "clans" so that the seven daughters of Eve will actually end up being the thirty daughters of Eve or the fifty daughters of Eve or whatever. For example, the Japanese, on whom Sykes and his cronies were working at last check, have nine distinct genetic "clans" that have been identified. So I would guess we can expect similar numbers for Aboriginal Australians, Africans, or people of Middle Eastern descent.
So what does this all mean, Big Dave? Where do we go from here? What can we expect next? I can hear the questions loud and clear, but I have no answers for you, Company. I mean, I am not a genetic researcher. In fact I know next to nothing about DNA and using it to trace ancestry or any of that jazz. That will have to be left to people far smarter than I. I suppose that we will just have to wait as the researchers go about their business, painstakingly narrowing down the roughly six billion or so of us into the product of a select few women somewhere in antiquity. We may never know exactly to what it whittles down; it may prove to be too difficult to discern between the "clans" of some genetic group, and that's okay. I still think it's fascinating what they are doing and what they are able to do. And I think that I would totally read the book. I would even let you borrow it if you were interested, if I could find the damn thing that it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

As Seen on TV: NordicTrack Incline Trainer

This month's special promotion features things that I have seen advertised on TV while watching a MacGyver marathon on a network called Sleuth.

Long, long ago they came out with an amazingly new and innovative exercise machine. There were already exercise machines at that time that simulated all sorts of normal everyday exercise activities: rowing, running, cycling, etc. But what was missing out of the "things that you could actually do outside but are paying a lot extra to do inside anyway" stable was one of the most aerobically beneficial activities known to man, and that of course was cross country skiing.
The original NordicTrack, if you were to go look at it today, seems very antiquated. It is actually made of wood, or at least the ski-like things are, and it is difficult to move. But it looks like cross-country skiing on a machine and it feels like it. It is a very good workout. Well, the good folks at NordicTrack, whoever they are, went beyond the original device and began to make all manner of workout equipment, and they chose to advertise their newest invention on the Sleuth Channel during the MacGyver marathon.
What they have come up with is a type of treadmill that they claim will allow you to burn up to five times the calories of a regular treadmill, regardless of whether you are walking, jogging, or running, which are the three traditional things that one can apparently do on a treadmill. It also includes like a little memory card slot where you can put a card with some personal training stuff, so it sets it to where you should be and it has a little voice to encourage you, or maybe to scream obscenities at you if you had been in the Army earlier in your life. But none of these things will help you to burn those five times as many calories, what does that is the Incline Trainer, like its name suggests, can incline up to 40 degrees. What NordicTrack has discovered is essentially walking uphill.
Wow. Stop the presses, this new and exciting information has to get released to the masses as quickly as humanly possible. Of course walking uphill is harder and burns more calories than walking on the flat. Everybody knows that. That is why lazy people always live in an apartment on the first floor. That is why football players run stairs to train. That is why your grandfather always tells of walking uphill both ways to get to school when he was a kid, because going uphill was a lot harder. It is a lot harder. You are fighting gravity people, which is an extra force, so you you are going to use more of your energy. I can't believe that it took the exercise equipment makers until now to figure that out, I've known it for ages. They could have paid me twenty bucks and asked me what is harder than walking and I would have been able to tell them that. What I can believe even less is that they are trying to pass this off as a new and innovative idea. It is not new, it is ages old, it just took until now for someone to come up with an idea other than putting your treadmill up on blocks. But sorry, I am not buying. There are some steps just a block or two away.